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Imagine, if you will, a place constructed between the plants on the ground and the birds in the air. This is Lorelai, a city, where the residents are paired with magical animal familiars. This once happy place has been struck by a strange disease that is turning the previous friendly familiars into viscous creatures. You are challenged by Domini Games to enter this environment, in the role of a familiar tamer, to fight the cause of this disease and restore the equilibrium of Lorelai by playing the game of Spirit Chronicles – Flower of Hope.
Available in Collector’s Edition format, this gaming title comes with a number of bonus items that gradually open up and offer more features as progress is made in the main game. Some of the bonus items, such as Wallpaper, Concept Art and Music, allow immediate access but others, including various storage areas for collectibles, are only worth a visit once trees, creatures and dewdrops have been found. Something similar applies to Videos, Mini games and Hidden Object scene which need to have been tackled in the main game before they can be replayed. A bonus chapter only becomes available once the main game has been completed.
When playing one of its games, Domini Games likes to give the player a choice of actions with certain features. The first such major choice is with the game’s difficulty level. You can select from Casual, Advanced, Hardcore or Custom. Depending upon your choice of level, you are given different rates of charging for the Hint and Skip features, the use of sparkles to identify active areas and the amount of information shown on the game’s Map feature.
As mentioned earlier, you are cast in the role of a familiar tamer who is responding to an appeal for help from your sister asking you to find the cure for the disease affecting Lorelai. Initially you will need to gather the tools required for the tasks you are about to face. An examination of the opening scene should provides the means to find a Journal with sections for notes and tasks, a Map depicting your current location and where tasks need to be completed, a special Bestiary containing the spells required to cure familiars, various Inventory items and a Hint feature to accompany the Strategy Guide that is already in place.
You will also find a button that sits on the left side of the screen and provides a running total of how many magical creatures, enchanted bees and dewdrops collected during the game. The latter items are used to furnish a bedroom, belonging to your sister, at appropriate times during the game. This button will glisten when one of its content types can be found in the current scene to encourage you to keep looking for the required item.
Moving around Lorelai and its countryside, the game provides three different methods to carry out this type of task. On occasions an icon will appear allowing you to return to the previous scene visited. A second method is when the Map feature automatically opens giving you a choice of locations. You still have the more standard method with the mouse cursor turning into a directional arrow pointing towards an exit point.
While continuing with the various tasks, you will need to cure aggressive familiars and create potions and, from time-to-time encounter characters . When these characters have some dialogue to impart, this will be delivered in both spoken and printed format. The dialogue will be accompanied by facial and body movements from the character. In some cases the player will be offered a choice of Reponses that can affect the flow of the game.
Interspersed among the various tasks will be a number of mini game puzzles and Hidden Object scenes. Both of these gaming diversions offer the player a choice as part of their feature sets. When tackling a mini game puzzle, you will have the option of selecting the Easy or Hard version. Generally the Hard option will involve extra elements and more layers to complete than the Easy version. The puzzles are varied in type and usually fit in with the in-gaming location. A Skip option is made available should a puzzle prove too difficult.
When the focus is on a Hidden Object challenge, the game uses various formats of action. Sometimes there is a need to link words in a story to a scene. On other occasions you might need to find a list of required items from a cluttered scene or select a moving image that conforms to a pattern. The player can either accept the Hidden Object challenge or switch to a Match 3 type of game play. You can switch mid-stream between the two formats if necessary.
The combination of well-drawn scenes, special effects and animated characters worked well. I did have one slight criticism with the voice used by one of the main characters. The voice sounded much too young for the character delivering the lines. Other than this, I enjoyed playing the game. You can download Spirit Chronicles – The Flower of Hope from Gamehouse.com where it is priced at $19.99 or Big Fish Games priced at £16.05. The game requires a 2.0 GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM and 1.60GB of hard disk space running Windows 7 and later.
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