Monday, July 16, 2012

Mystery at Mortlake Mansion

Having become inexplicably hooked on simple "hidden object" computer games recently, I played "Mystery at Mortlake Mansion" by Stella Games this weekend as a free download via  Doing it this way entails frequent interruptions in gameplay for 30-second commercials from ad service MetaCafe.  That's not a criticism of this specific title; just a factor to be aware of when you play a "free" downloadable game from Pogo.

The visual art concept and renderings of "Mortlake Mansion" are terrific, especially the wide-shot scenes of the various rooms in the mansion house (each one duplicated in a darkly magical "shadow world").  This is the strongest feature of the game.  The music lends to the cartoonishly gothic atmosphere without becoming overly intrusive or repetitive.  The puzzles are entertaining and at the right level of difficulty.  Several are more challenging than they appear at first glance, and the degree of difficulty increases slightly as you proceed through the game.

I appreciated the map function which indicates in which rooms you have active puzzles waiting for you to solve or objects to retrieve that are necessary to complete the required actions in other rooms.  The flow of gameplay is well thought out.

The occasional speaking parts (protagonist; raven; spirits) did not live up to the rest of the game, and I found myself impatiently waiting while bits of dialogue loaded and finished.  I would sometimes read ahead and click out of them.

I experienced just one technical glitch: the large game cursor was sometimes accompanied by a smaller, regular-sized cursor on the screen.  The large cursor controlled the action; the small one was an annoying distraction.

In summary, the visual art, music, storyline, and puzzles in this Poe-like production are best in class.  I merely came to wish the raven would speak nevermore.

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