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A Game of Ancient Secrets
When serious incidents of crime occur in Victorian London who do you send for? As these events predate the Ghostbusters, it has to be the dynamic duo created by e-Funsoft Games. So the word was sent out for Morgan Johnson and his faithful companion, Jack Brown, to return to London and solve the spate of bombings that forms the basis of Gaslamp Cases 3 subtitled Ancient Secrets.
As with the other titles in this Gaslamp Cases series, this third title belongs to the Match 3 genre. Along with the ability to create profiles, so that the progress of individual players can be recorded, this game allows you to make certain adjustments to the game playing environment. Volume levels can be adjusted for the game's music and sound effects. Options are available to view the game in full screen mode and have a tutorial mode. The game can be played in Relaxed mode or with a timer feature for levels to be completed within a specific time limit.
The game's introductory sequence, combining story book style images and a commentary, can have the effect of raising expectation. The commentary is both printed and spoken by a voice actor. However the spoken aspect does not appear elsewhere in the game and you have to make do with just printed dialogue in the various scenes featuring different static characters.
As usual with Gaslamp Cases, the actual investigation procedure, undertaken by Morgan Johnson and Jack Black, is based around a series of Match 3 grids that accommodate a range of embellished tiles plus blockages of the permanent and temporary type. The tiles are embossed with images appropriate to the game's story line. Some tiles will be overlaid with a spoke wheel arrangement that can make it difficult to distinguish the image underneath when creating matches. The overlay will be removed when the tile forms part of a matched group.
Each grid comes with its own specific target of the number and type of tiles which need to be removed from the grid. This challenge is shown positioned to the right of the grid. Situated to the left of the grid will be the power-up tools to assist with the removal of tiles. The type of power-ups will depend upon the grid and will need to be powered by making progress.
With a story line spread over five chapters, the game consists of 70 Match 3 grids which need to be completed by achieving their associated challenges. Tiles are removed by the standard method of swapping twp adjacent tiles to create groups. At the conclusion of each grid, you are awarded stars which can be used to purchase one of the current four upgrades that are available for each chapter. All four upgrades must be carried out in order to proceed to the next chapter that could involve the investigation visiting other countries.
If, as can sometimes happen, you arrive at a situation when no further moves are available in a grid then a automatic shuffle will occur. While this procedure was usually carried out successfully, there was one occasion (Level 3 - 11) when the displayed screen went into a loop and refused to accept any more action. When I shut down the program, a message regarding "Exception_Access_Violation" appeared. Replaying the level without an automatic shuffle allowed me to continue with the game.
Apart from this incident, the game provided a reasonable Match 3 challenge. However the game would have benefitted from spoken dialogue throughout. I downloaded by copy of the game from Gamehouse.com where it is available for $9.99. The game requires a 1.5GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM and 139MB of hard disk space running Windows 7 and later.
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