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A Curse Concealing Castle
One of Jack’s ancestors was the infamous Conte Gille de Brais. While out hunting one day, the Count was attacked by a wolf when suddenly a mysterious stranger came to the Count’s rescue. This stranger was a demon who demanded that the Count should enter an agreement in return for the help he had received. This agreement, signed in blood, stated that the Count would become immortal in return for sacrificing an innocent member of his family on a regular basis.
To mark this agreement, the Count’s beard turned blue and so the legend of Bluebeard was born as he married and then sacrificed six wives in turn to ensure his part of the bargain was kept. Now it seems you are near the head of the line to be the next victim to be sacrificed by the dark hearted Bluebeard and your only hope of survival is to track down Bluebeard and somehow break the curse by visiting Bluebeard’s Castle and face the horrors that dwell there.
As usual with games of this genre, you can create profiles for individual players and make adjustments to the game playing environment. You can adjust the volume level for background music, sound special effects and environment. However, be aware, any adjustments made to the background music will also affect that used by the spoken dialogue which accompanies the on-screen printed text. Other options allow you to select playing in full or proportional screen mode with a standard or magnified cursor along with the appearance of subtitles, tool tips and sparkles.
Individual players have a choice of three difficulty levels. In Casual mode the charging of the Hint and Skip features are fast while glints and sparkles help identify objects and interactive areas. Challenge mode reduces the charging speed rate and the appearance of glints and sparkles. Expert mode is even slower when it comes to charging and there are no glints. This mode should be reserved for the more experienced adventurer.
Once passed the rather plain opening background scene, an optional tutorial will introduce the player to the various cursors indicating when possible actions are available. These cursors indicate when you need to use an object in the inventory, zoom into an area, talk to another character or interactive with the environment. Arrows will indicate the directions in which you can move while available tools are positioned across the bottom of the screen.
Taking up a central position in this area is the inventory displaying objects in your possession. To the left is your journal, which automatically updates itself, and the current task. Later a map will be added showing locations you can transport to at a click of the mouse. The Hint feature and access to the game’s main menu are on the right.
As mentioned, the game does feature a map which can show the available locations surrounding your current position. However you will need to find the various sections of this map as you move around the castle. Once found the pieces can be put back together in order to gain access to the map’s functionality.
This game does involve a great deal of moving around and returning to locations previously visited with the Hint feature proving particularly useful in this respect. When activated, the Hint feature will show an overlaid window of where you need to visit next with the appropriate section highlighted.
Various puzzles are dotted around different locations, blocking access or needing solving for a variety of reasons. The puzzles generally require at least one, or sometimes several, item(s) to be added and used in different ways. Instructions as to what is required are fairly sparse although by clicking on the Hint feature you will be shown the end solution but without any indication as to how to reach that point. Fortunately there is a Skip option that does not appear to penalise the player for its use.
Hidden Object game play is of the standard variety. You will need to find all the objects listed in text format that can be found in a cluttered scene. Clicking on an item in the text list will reveal a miniature silhouette of that object. While most of the objects will be listed in white text, any coloured yellow will require an additional action before they can be selected. You will be rewarded with at least one of the found items at the conclusion of each Hidden Object scene.
Bluebeard’s Castle Son of the Heartless certainly held my attention. I was particularly impressed with the puzzles which were varied in style and often different from the usual diet found in similar games. You can download a time-limited version of the game to try out before purchasing the unrestricted offering for USD $9.99 from sites such as Gamehouse.com. System requirements call for a 1.6GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM and 740MB of hard disk space running Windows 7 and later.
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