Hoyle Illusions 

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When stage magicians meet in competition you can expect magic to be in the air along with some trickery.

avanquest Hoyle Illusions
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Hoyle Illusions is a Hidden Object Adventure game set in the early 1900s.  The game takes place in New York City as the top two magicians of the period, Johannes the Great and Merlin the Amazing, plan to face each other in a contest to decide once and for all who is the top illusionist.  But this is just the subplot as you take on the dual roles of Peter and Sophie who work as assistants to Johanne the Great.

Now available as part of Avanquest GSP catalogue, Hoyle Illusions was originally released by Broderbund.  The game still requires an online activation with Broderbund by entering a 19-character serial number located inside the DVD box when the game is first run.

After creating a game profile by entering a name, you have access to various customisation options.  You can adjust the volume level for the background music and sound effects.  Other options include deciding whether to play in full screen mode and use a custom cursor which changes shape to indicate when different actions are possible.

Also featuring on the main title screen is a Mini Game option but this is only accessible once you have collected enough of the black Hoyle Playing Cards that are scattered through the 40+ scenes making up this game.  As well as the playing cards, you also need to be on the look-out for the top hats favoured by well-dressed magicians.  Once you have located a top hat, you can pair it with a magician’s wand sitting in the lower left corner of the screen to reveal an item which will prove useful.

The game’s opening sequence sets the pattern for the use of static characters who deliver their dialogue via text which appears at the bottom of the screen as the two illusionists agree to the competition.  It isn’t long before Sophie is kidnapped and Peter is told that he must cause Johannes to die during his performance in order to ensure Sophie’s release.  What happens next forms the main part of this game.

During Adventure mode, the various scenes are overlaid at the bottom of the screen with the tools available to you.  Taking up a central position is the inventory which remains concealed until its area is invaded by the mouse cursor.  Items in the inventory need to be selected followed by a click on the location where they are to be used. 

A rechargeable Hint feature is located to the right of the inventory.  The Hint feature is only active during Hidden Object scenes but it does change to a Skip option when you are tackling one of the game’s puzzles.  On the left of the inventory is the magic wand used to turn top hats into other objects and the number of black Hoyle Playing Cards you have managed to collect from the various scenes.  A great deal of backtracking will be required in this game as you complete the various tasks.  Often items, such as Hidden Object scenes and other clues, will only become available once you have completed set tasks elsewhere.  At times you almost feel as if the game is deliberately trying to frustrate you by allowing actions that were forbidden a few moments earlier when you were last in that location.

Hidden Object scenes, easily identified by an outbreak of sparkles, follow the standard pattern of requiring you to find all the items listed in a cluttered scene.  There is some duplication both in the scene location and the items required.  You will be rewarded with one of the located objects at the successful completion of a scene.  Often this object can be put to immediate use.

Generally the puzzles in this game need to be solved in order to gain access to another room or hidden compartment but not always so.  The puzzles involve a range of tasks that are relevant to the period and illusion element of the story.

Overall I felt that the game was rather bitty.  This was due to it being broken up into bite sized chunks joined together by a static scene of Peter and Sophie appearing to run down an alleyway.  There was also a distinct feeling that the game was light on content.  Most players should be able to complete the game within two or three sessions.

There is the added bonus of being able to play the various bonus games from the main title screen once you have collected enough of the black Hoyle Playing Cards.  Not surprisingly, due to the Hoyle influence, the Mini Games are based on popular card games such as Klondike Solitaire, Three Card Monte and Spider Solitaire.  In addition there is a free game of Gods vs Humans bundled with Hoyle Illusions.

Priced at £10.20, Hoyle Illusions requires a 2.5GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM and 1.6GB of hard disk space running Windows Vista and later.

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OverallAvanquest GSP Hoyle Illusions rated 60 out of 100

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