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An Attack of Snakes
Forming part of the House of 1000 Doors series, Serpent Flame has been developed by Alawar's Five-bn team. This particular game belongs to the Hidden Object Adventure genre and is the follow-up title to Family Secret and Palm of Zoroaster offerings. My review is based on the Collector's Edition of the game.
As usual with Collector's Edition titles, Serpent Flame features a number of bonus items. In this case, depending upon how far you have progressed in the main game, you will have access to a selection of wallpapers, concept art, cut-scenes, music, mini games, puzzles, a bonus chapter plus a Strategy Guide to lead you through the various steps required to complete the game. While access is immediately available to some of these elements, others will require you to have encountered them in the main offering or even completed the full game.
Allowing different people to play the game, you can create named profiles to record the progress of individuals. The game can be played in either Casual or Expert mode. In the case of the former you get a 30 second Hint recharging speed and highlighted interactive areas. Expert mode increases the Hint recharging to one minute and does not identify interactive areas.
Some adjustments can be made to the game's playing environment. Audio levels can be set for music, sound effects and ambient environment. Other selectable options include choosing an appropriate screen resolution, full or wide screen and use of a system cursor.
The game opens with a dramatic sequence as you zoom in for a close look at an American style city as cracks begin to appear in concrete and massive hungry snakes begin to appear, feeding off the populace and causing world-wide death and destruction. The scene is then switch to a house floating above a desert area as your character, Kate Reed, a paranormal investigator, awakens to solve the mystery of what is happening to the world. So begins the Serpent Flame.
The various scenes and locations, making up this game, follow a standard pattern. Running across the bottom of each scene, when in adventure mode, are the main tools put to your disposal. Taking up a central position is an inventory with chevrons at each end so that you can cycle through the content when there are too many items to be viewed at one time.
A journal, recording your findings, and a short-cut to the game's menu sits on the left of the inventory. Occupying space to the right of the inventory are a map, Hint feature and Strategy Guide which offers help in the form of text and annotated screen grabs. Incidentally the map featured in this game is the type which indicates locations with tasks to be completed. It will offer to transfer you to a designated destination. Often this feature will work in conjunction with the Hint facility.
Kate's initial investigation reveals that she was rescued from the snake attack damage, under the control of a race known as Nagas, by a mysterious character called Rafael. You quickly learn that Kate is the only person who can stop the onslaught of the snakes and return things to normal. This task will require making use of special keys to enter a portal to visit four different worlds. At each destination you will help Kate encounter other characters, puzzles and Hidden Object scenes as you search for the four required elements of Air, Water, Fire and Earth needed to complete the quest.
As each element is found in turn, Kate will be able to move on to the next world and eventually reach a battle between the snakes and your character. The journey will involve meeting different characters who can help and receive important items in return. These characters are portrayed in full body mode overlaid on the current background scenery. While imparting their dialogue in printed text and spoken formats, these characters have some body and facial movement.
Scattered throughout the game are 20 mini games. These puzzle type offerings are varied in type and generally fit in with the game's environment. A Skip option becomes available just in case one of the puzzles proves too difficult to solve.
Two different types of Hidden Object game play are featured in this title. You will either need to find objects or replace them in a scene. In the case of the former, you work from a list of items in text format. Any item coloured red in the list will require an additional action before they can be found.
Spread over six chapters, plus a bonus one, Serpent Flame is visually impressive and certainly challenging as you explore the different epochs in search of vital elements. There were times when I felt a little lost in the flow of the story line and had to rely on the Hint feature to get back on track. The game requires a 1.6 GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 860MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later. Big Fish Games is currently listing the Collector's Edition of the House of 1000 Doors - Serpent Flame at £10.80.
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