A Tale of Mermaids and a Purple Tide
Available from Big Fish Games in Collector’s Edition format, Dark Parables The Little Mermaid and the Purple Tide is a Hidden Object Adventure game. As usual with a Collector’s Edition title, this game features a number of bonus items. Some of these items, such as Picture, Music and the Strategy Guide, are available immediately while others require you to make progress or even complete the main game before you can gain access. For example Puzzles, Movies and Hidden Object scenes can be replayed once they have completed in the main game while the Souvenir Chest and the bonus game of Trusty John and Kung Bluetooth are only unlocked when the main game has been completed.
Profiles can be set up for individual players allowing for adjustable volume levels for music, sound effects and voice dialogue. There are further options enabling the game to be played in full screen mode with a custom cursor that changes shape to indicate when different actions are possible. Four levels of difficulty are available as you select from Casual, Normal, Hard or Custom. With the latter level you can cherry pick from features such as the speed of recharging, the appearance of helpful glints and sparkles, a map that can show areas of interest and a penalty for mis-clicking during Hidden Object game play. The chosen level can be changed during the game.
You are cast in the role of a detective who has been sent to investigate the appearance of a purple tide which destroys everything in its path, including people, along with reports of mermaids appearing and talk of the Kingdom of Prasino. However before you can reach your destination and start working, a large sea monster appears and capsizes your boat. You finish up washed ashore on the Island of Crete where you discover a trapped mermaid and the game, spread over six chapters, begins in earnest.
Your view of the well-drawn scenes in this magical world is overlaid across the bottom of the screen with the tools available to you. On the left are the recharging Hint feature and a Parable container that holds the sections of Dark Parables with their different look at popular stories. Sitting on the right is a map that can be used to instantly transport you to another location. Taking up a central position is the inventory with chevrons at either end for when you need to scroll through the items collected. At various points during the game you will need to combine items in the inventory to create something you will need to complete a task. Tabs on top of the inventory can be used to check on the current objective and access the game’s Strategy Guide.
The mouse cursor can come to your rescue by changing shape to indicate when you can examine or explore areas, move to other locations, pick up an object or listen to one of the characters inhabiting this strange world. Real voice actors are used to deliver the dialogue and you are given the option to hear more or end the conversation in order to get back to other aspects of the game.
Fortunately you have access to a map which can instantly transport you between the various areas. This is a very useful feature as you will need to visit the various locations on multiple occasions. As well as collecting the different items that are conveniently left lying around, you will need to be on the look out for the sections making up the Dark Parables. From time to time you will receive an award for achieving set targets.
You do have some leeway in the order in which some actions can be carried out but this is not always the case. Certain options only become available once you have located specific items. At the conclusion of some tasks you will be presented with a mini-game. Generally these types of offering are both innovative and challenging. A skip option becomes available if a puzzle proves too difficult.
Hidden Object game play takes the format of requiring you to locate bits and pieces scattered around a cluttered scene. These images are divided into three groups. Once all the items in a group are located they will join together to form an object. The three objects then combine to form something you will require later in the game.
Various cut-scenes appear throughout the game and these can be replayed from the Movie section on the Extra’s option. As with the conversations, you can skip any of the cut-scenes if you are keen to get back to the main action.
It is quite easy to miss out on some of the Dark Parables items as you progress through the game. Fortunately you can revisit the necessary scenes by clicking on the Dark Parables option in the Extras menu and search for the items you are missing. You can also search for other items you may have missed from the Souvenir Chest once you have completed the Bonus Game.
While the game is challenging, I felt the story line, especially with the main game, was lacking in its ability to really involve the player in what was going out. Unlike some titles which I enjoyed playing more than once, this particular offering does not fall into that category. Currently priced at £10.80, the game’s specifications call for a 1.6GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM, 862MB of hard disk space with support for DirectX 9 running Windows XP and later.
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