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Onslaught of Fire
"Dark Realm - Queen of Flames" is a Hidden Object Adventure game. Developed by Mad Head Games, this offering casts you in the role of Valera, the daughter of the village's Blacksmith. You are set the task of discovering who is in charge of the mysterious floating figures who are attacking and setting fire to the village of Northpearl.
I have been looking at the Platinum Edition of the game which comes with a number of bonus items including a bonus chapter that become available when the main game is completed. Other bonus items deal with Collectibles, Making of the Video clips, wallpaper, sound tracks, a card gallery, Hidden Object scenes and a Northpearl jigsaw. Apart from wallpaper and Hidden Object scenes which are available once they have been encountered in the main game, all the other bonus items require the main game to be completed before you can access their features.
As usual with games of this genre, you can create profiles to record the progress of individual players. Adjustments can be made to the audio levels for music, ambient sound, effects and voice dialogue. You can also turn on/off options for full screen viewing, aspect ratio and a hardware icon. When playing the game there is a choice of four difficulty levels. Rather then the usual naming method for these levels, Mad Head Games uses different type of fire with Spark, Flame and Blaze being the titles plus Custom where you can adjust settings for a tutorial, map with or without indications, sparkles and Hint/Skip recharging speeds.
Following an animated intro, which can be skipped if you do not fancy sitting through it whenever firing up the game, you are immediately thrown into the action. Strange figures, with staring eyes, start to attack the villages, including your father the Blacksmith, before setting fire to the various buildings. Fortunately you quickly take possession of your late mother's special boots, which can render you invisible when danger threatens plus various magical elements to help you as you encounter different scenes overlaid with animations and an area running across the bottom of the screen that holds useful tools.
Taking up most of this area is your inventory displaying items you have collected. If any of these items feature a plus (+) sign then it can be examined and combined with another object. To the right of the inventory are tabs for accessing your invisibility boots, magic medallion, achievements gained, Hint feature, Guide book and the game's main menu. Further assistance is provided by the game cursor which changes shape to indicate when a possible action can be applied at its current location.
The game is spread over eight chapters of visually impressive locations with an emphasis on the different aspects of fire. As you move around the various scenes of this game and you encounter other characters, some dialogue will take place. Delivered in both spoken and printed text format, the dialogue will be accompanied by an overlaid video of the character. In order to progress through the dialogue, mouse clicks will be required.
As you move around the village of Northpearl and the site of the combustible action, you will encounter a selection of Hidden Object scenes and mini games. Variety is the name of the game with regards the way Hidden Object game play is handled in "Dark Realm - Queen of Flames". In some cases you will need to find objects listed in text format using different colours of items identified by the use of capital letters in an illustrated story. Rather than just find objects, sometimes you will need to replace them within a scene.
Mini games also have their part to play. Again some variety can be seen in the type of puzzles on offer. Brief instructions, regarding what is required to solve the puzzle, is provided. However sometimes I struggled to make sense of the instructions and what was actually required.
Fairly early in the game, help does arrive to assist Valera in her quest to solve the mystery behind the attacks on Northpearl. After all there are numerous floating figures causing damage as structures are destroyed by fire and villagers are turned into zombie-like creatures obeying orders plus whoever is behind the attacks. Valera assistance comes in the form of an archer who suddenly appears.
In conclusion lets consider a contradiction regarding the game's title. The gaming site from where I downloaded my copy of the product had it listed as "Dark Realm - Queen of Flames Platinum Edition" yet the game's title screen referred to the game as a Collector's Edition. Why this contradiction occurs, I have no idea but it makes no difference to the game's content or how it plays. Whether Platinum or Collector's Edition, the game has some nice touches but really failed to impress me. It is the type of game that I found easy to put down when other matters demanded my attention.
I downloaded my copy of the game from Gamehouse.com where it is available for $19.99. Game specifications call for a 1.6 GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM and 1.28GB of hard disk space running Windows 7 and later.
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