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Entering a Void
According to my Concise Oxford Dictionary, "Void" is an "empty space". The Void, however, is also the title of the Mystery Trackers Hidden Object Adventure game. Available from the extensive Big Fish Games catalogue, I have been looking at the Collector's Edition of this title which comes with a number of bonus items. As access to these additional features is not available until the main game is completed, I will leave covering the bonus items until the end of the review.
The game provides the usual collection of options prior to starting the game. You can create profiles for different players so that their progress is recorded. Separate settings can be made for the volume levels for background music and sound effects. There are also options to view the game in full screen mode and use a custom cursor rather than the default system offering when exploring scenes.
The game is based around the Void family and their mansion which was built in 1890. Since then the mansion has been the site of terrible experiments conducted by Dr. Malay Void. As a result the building's reputation has justified its name and disappeared into a void. This reputation has not been helped by the disappearance of three world famous celebrities from the mansion. The three celebrities were the famous horror novelist Kevin Sting, the actress Rebecca Thatcher and the illusionist Jerald Springs.
With its exterior dilapidated appearance and the numerous repairs needed to bring the interior back to a reasonable state, the game's various scenes are overlaid by Journal, Inventory, Hint and Strategy Guide features along with an option to access the main menu. Almost as soon as you have gained access to the boarded-up front door of the mansion, the Hint feature will be taken over by Mr. Toad who will provide basic help. Your mouse cursor will change shape to indicate when it is in position to undertake a task with the appearance of an outbreak of sparkles providing the clue that Hidden Object awaits you.
Hidden Object scenes follow the general accepted practise of combing a cluttered scene of miscellaneous items with a text list of the items that need to be found. None of the required items will need any additional actions in order to be selected. At the conclusion of the scene, one of the items found will be your reward and this will be added to your inventory.
Rather than just the old mansion building, the Void residence has some extensive grounds and facilities which need to form part of your investigation. As you explore the house and its grounds, from time-to-time you will encounter a puzzle. While varying in type, these puzzles also vary in difficulty. In several cases the puzzles were so easy that I was able to complete then without fully understanding what was required. A Skip option is available, although not used regularly, should a puzzle prove too difficult.
By completing your investigation of the Void mansion and associated areas that include a fairy garden, tube station and a set of underground caves plus encountering monsters and a mysterious figure, you will unlock the product's bonus items. Along with bonus game play, you will have access to original soundtracks, concept art, wallpapers and screensavers. There is also an option to print and create your own paper craft characters featured in the game.
While the game's graphics, animation features and sound effects are of a reasonable quality, I felt the story line was a little too disjointed for my taste. The game requires a 1.2 GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 751MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later. As mentioned earlier, this title is available from Big Fish Games where it is priced at £10,80.
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