Haunted Legends 

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Putting a curse on an Undertaker can produce strange results.

A question!  Who would you select as the central character is a game entitled Haunted Legends?  In the case of ERS Games Studio, the decision was taken to place The Undertaker in the central character role for the company's Haunted Legend title which belongs to the Hidden Object Adventure genre of game play.

This game is available in a choice of Standard or Collector's Edition formats.  Following my usual practice, I will be looking at the Collector's Edition of the product.  The Collector's Edition of this game comes with a number of bonus items.

Some of the bonus items are available immediately while others require a certain amount of progress before you are granted access to them.  In the case of the bonuses entitled wallpaper, music, concept art and screen savers, you can dip into their content immediately.  However for mini games, Hidden Object scenes and video sequences, these only become available after they have been encountered in the main game.  There is also an option to view a number of bonus scenes once the main game has been completed.

As usual with games of this type, profiles can be created so that different players can play the game with their own settings when the mood takes them.  As well as recording each player's progress, profiles can contain the set volume levels for music, sound effects and  dialogue supplied by voice actors plus whether the action is viewed in full or wide screen mode with a custom cursor and a choice of three levels of difficulty which are classified as Casual, Advanced and Hard.  Depending upon the chosen level the charging speeds of the Hint and Skip features will vary while, in some cases, sparkles will be used to identify areas that  need further examination.

No doubt you will be pleased to hear, if you have not already guessed, that you are not cast in the role of the Undertaker.  That particular role goes  to a hard-working, on-screen character.  Instead you will need to act as a detective sent to check on the strange goings-on affecting a local fishing village following a request from Mrs. Fisher who, it turns out, happens to be the Undertaker's wife. 

According to Mrs. Fisher the troubles started when a strange, small man turned up at the village and made an agreement with the Undertaker that, in exchange for the Amulet of Prosperity, the Undertaker will give the stranger a mirror in return.  However when the Undertaker decided to check that the Amulet actually brought prosperity, he reneged on the deal and held on to the mirror.  Weird things began to happen.  The Undertaker found that he is unable to stop working.  Furthermore when the moon arises, so do the dead that have been recently buried by the Undertaker with the result that all the heavy work carried out by the Undertaker, from his establishment, appropriately named "Six Feet Under", was undone and zombies made an appearance.  This is the situation in which you find yourself on arriving at the village.

Running across the bottom of screens, showing the various locations making up the village and surroundings, is an area holding the tools available to your detective character.  Centrally positioned is an Inventory holding the item you collect during the game.  This feature can be set to always remain in view or be hidden until it is called upon by the cursor invading its area.  Chevron are available in case you need to cycle left or right when there are too many items to be viewed at one go.  Sandwiching the Inventory are menus and Strategy Guide options on the left with the Hint/Skip features and journal on the right.  The journal automatically records findings and discoveries made by your character.

As you mouse cursor moves around each scene it will change shape to indicate when certain actions are possible.  These actions include talking to another character, picking up an object, examining an item or exiting in a particular direction.  S

Depending upon the chosen action, the scene will change to suit the situation with animation and overlaid windows being used.  From time to time a special effect will be applied.

Hidden Object game play, indicated by an outbreak of sparkles when in Casual mode, switch between two different types.  You will either be asked to look for items that match a silhouette or work with a text list of objects.  In the case of the latter, any text coloured orange will require an additional task before it can be selected.  At the conclusion of such scenes, you will be rewarded with one of the found items.

Along with the various Hidden Object scenes, this Haunted Legends offering contains 17 mini games.  These mini games are reasonably challenging and show innovation.  Included with the mini games is a Destiny Fish that requires to be covered with scales concealed within the game.  You also need to be on the look out for a mischievous monkey that has a role to play.  Zombies, however, are rarely seen and are best regarded as a minor player that add little more than flavour to the gaming action.

Available from Big Fish Games, priced at £10.80, Haunted Legends: The Undertaker requires a 1,4 GHz processor with 1024 MB of RAM and 980 MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later.

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