A Family Business
Located on the outskirts of a small town at the end of a winding path, the Katz property had been designed by Wilhelm Katz to house steam powered machinery to manufacture small boiler units to drive all types of transportation. Adding a decorative appearance to the factory was an assortment of bronze farm animals. The mansion part of the structure was added later and was lavishly decorated with ornate woodwork, fine art and impressive furniture.
With his vivid imagination, Wilhelm was able to design and create a mechanical flying pig as a present for his daughter Victoria’s second birthday. She was so proud of her present that she showed it to everybody and soon orders flowed in for this magnificent toy. Soon the factory was making all kinds of mechanical funny beasts. On the death of Wilhelm, control of the home and factory passed to Victoria who continued to expand the structure with more rooms and facilities.
At first the factory continued to prosper. Gradually though, things began to go wrong. You are then called in to help Otto, the plant manager, sort out these problems and help in the organisation of a grand banquet that Victoria was planning to hold.
Options are available to make adjustments to the game playing environment and create profiles for individual players. You can adjust the volume levels for music, environment and sound effects plus play with a hardware cursor. Apart from the introductory sequence that features spoken and scrolling text, all the other dialogue in the game is of the printed variety. Further options allow you to enable a penalty for mis-clicking when searching for objects and the fast-charging of hints.
There is a choice of two levels of difficulty. Easy level will not penalise the player for any mis-clicking and has a faster recharging of the Hint feature. Normal mode does instigate a penalty for mis-clicking and has a slower rate when charging the Hint feature.
Running across the full screen view of the various locations are the tools available to the user. Perched on the left are links to the game’s main menu and a Logbook that automatically reveals interesting background information regarding the storyline. Situated on the right are a map, which can be used to instantly return to a previously visited scene, a musical box hint feature, acting like a Geiger counter as it plays faster the nearer it comes into contact with a desired object, and a Continue button that will glitter when it is available to take you to the next location.
Positioned in the central area of the tool bar is the name plate of the current location. The name plate doubles as your inventory storing the items you have collected or are awarded. It will automatically switch between its two modes when the appropriate occasion occurs.
Although you do need to move between areas of the factory and domicile locations, your freedom of movement does tend to be limited. Arrows will appear indicating possible directions while an outbreak of glitter will indicate the optimum choice. As mentioned you also can use the map feature which uses layers to represent the various levels of the building.
Hidden Object game play, as you might expect, is heavily featured. You will be presented with a list of objects to find within a scene. Often the scenes are intricate and decorative while you will be asked to find small objects. Sometimes you will need to find a specified number of a single small object, such as a bunch of keys, spiders or bees, within a scene. On other occasions you will get a text list, with additional items appearing as others are found, or images of objects concealed within a scene.
In some cases the scene will spread over more than a single room or require you to work through several layers in order to find all the objects. At the conclusion of each Hidden Object session, a Performance report will appear, often following a delay that may make you think the game has hung, showing the number of objects found and the time taken.
Sometimes a Hidden Object session will be followed by a puzzle. You may be asked to place the found items in their correct locations as part of a mechanism. Other types of puzzles included linking elements or moving objects around. You also need to be on the look out for hidden flying pigs. All the pigs will need to be found to complete the game.
I found the game to be lacking in any addictive quality. I never felt that I was being drawn into the story despite the ornate graphics and well drawn scenes. It also relied too much of finding rather small items that were extremely difficult to find even with the Geiger counter Hint feature.
My review copy of the game was downloaded from Gamehouse.com where it is available as a time limited trial version before deciding whether to pay $9.99 for the unrestricted version. The game requires a 1GHz processor with 2048MG of RAM and 1.66GB of hard disk space running Windows 7 and later.
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