Playing with Magic 

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Developed by BLAM! Games, Dangerous Game: Illusionist belongs to the Hidden Object Adventure genre. This game is available in Standard and Collector’s Edition versions. My review is based on the latter version which has a number of bonus items.

Dangerous Game: Illusionist’s title screen gives you the option to create profiles for those planning to play the game in your household.  A profile can contain a player’s individual progress plus the volume levels for sound effects, music and voice dialogue.  You can also decide whether to play in full screen mode with or without a custom cursor which changes shape to indicate when different actions are possible. 

Four levels of difficulty are available.  You can select from Casual, Advanced, Hardcore and Custom plus switch between them mid-game if the mood takes you.  The levels have different rates of charging speed for the Hint / Skip options plus helpful hints and a penalty for over-indulging in mis-clicking during Hidden Object game play.

The title screen also lists and gives you access to the bonus items that are included with this product.  Concept Art is the only one of the bonus items which gives immediately access.  Of the others, Tricks will gives you access to some elements during the game but only when you have discovered the special cards that relate to this tricks.  With the other bonus items of Wallpaper, Music, Video and Mini-games, you will need to complete the main game, which is spread over six different locations, before you can gain access.

This game casts you in the role of a young woman reporter who has been asked to cover an Illusionist competition in New York.  The previous competition, held a few years earlier, had ended with a mysterious fire that has yet to be explained.  As you make your way, via taxi, to the hotel holding the event, you are rather worried about what happened the last time the event was held but realise this could be your big opportunity.  On arriving at the hotel you are given the option of accepting interactive help regarding the different elements of the program such as the different cursors and morphing Trick cards which reveal how certain illusions are performed.  You will also learn about a Magic Truth Goggles feature which can be used to reveal items that might otherwise be hidden from the casual observer.

Arranged across the bottom of the screen, when in Adventure mode, are the various tools available to the player during this game.  Taking up a central position is the Inventory holding the items collected or awarded for completing certain tasks.  If any of the items in the Inventory have a “+” sign beside them then an additional action will be required before it can be used.  On the left of the Inventory is a link to the game’s main menu and a map that has the ability to transport the player between locations when the need arises.  The right side of the Inventory houses links to the game’s Strategy Guide and current task plus the rechargeable Hint feature.

The game makes use of overlaid windows when you are shown a view of areas you are examining or holding conversations with the other characters inhabiting the various locations making up this game.  In the case of conversation, these will be conducted with both spoken dialogue, supplied by voice actors, and printed text.  Mouse clicks will be required to move through the different section of the dialogue.

Full screen video animated linking sequences are used to move the storyline along and help explain the transition between locations.  Unfortunately the loading of these sequences and changes of location did tend to slow everything down.  Often I was left with a black screen overlaid with the tools arrangement across the bottom of the screen.  Once a linking sequence was loaded, there was a Skip option to cut it short and get back to the main action.

Hidden Object game play uses a variety of styles for the items you need to find.  Sometimes you will be required to locate objects listed in text format with those coloured blue needing additional actions before being selected or the required objects could be displayed as silhouettes.  There is also an example where the items you require will morph into other objects making them more difficult to find.  On some other occasions you will need to find a designated number of non-specific items either by just clicking on them or by completing a series of tasks that will reveal the required items.  The completion of each Hidden Object scene will result in the player receiving a reward.

Built into the game are a number of puzzles and mini-games.  These interludes tend to be varied in both style and difficulty levels.  In some cases the difficulty was not helped by the rather limited instructions as to what was required to complete the task.  I know I struggled on more than one occasion to understand what was required.

While well drawn and challenging, I was a little disappointed in Dangerous Game: Illusionist.  This feeling was certainly not helped by the occasions when there were gaps before screens were loaded without any reason as to why this was happening.  I was running the game on a system that far exceeded the stated system requirements.  The full unrestricted version of this game will cost $19.99.  System requirements call for a 1.6GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 1.10GB of hard disk space running Windows 7 and later.

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OverallBLAM! Games Dangerous Game: Illusionist rated 52 out of 100

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