Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla in review – Could the title be any longer?

Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla is quite different than what I was expecting. I know hidden object games have come a long way in the last couple of years, but this feels more like an adventure game that just happens to use some hidden object scenes as part of the “action”.  There’s a detailed story intertwined with many interactive sequences, only some of which involve finding mass amounts of hidden objects.  Conceptually it all works, and I know the story keeps me intrigued, but there are a few things in the details that make this journey less than exemplary.

On your way to visit your grandma in Europe, you stop to pick up a package for her from the late Nikola Tesla.  The contents send you on a quest to find the six parts to his greatest invention, which he trusts you won’t use for the cause of evil.  To find this invention you’ll meet several interesting characters who will require you to solve some puzzles and beat some mini games in order to gain their assistance.

The puzzles start out simple, e.g., finding the parts to your phone so you can call your grandma.  As the story goes on you’ll encounter things like needing to build a flower pig for a local bar.  None of the puzzles are necessarily mind bending, though some can get a bit frustrating due to screen size restrictions.  Others are just annoying because you don’t have enough information to solve them, so you’re just guessing at what to do.  Thankfully, though, many of them are practical enough.

The mini games vary greatly in style but are again mostly of the simple variety.  You might have to run a ball through a maze or stretch out clumps of string such that no two lengths are touching each other.  You’ve probably seen them all in one game or another, but I think the devs have picked a pretty decent selection for this game.  The one I don’t really care for is the game where you have to find your ferret, because it’s dull and quite tedious, and it doesn’t advance the plot any.

Controls vary depending on the game you’re playing, but most things are simple point and click affairs.  The sad thing is that there is no consistency in how the controls react – on some scenes it’s actually easier to tap things when the picture’s not zoomed in, and in other locations you can’t seem to tap anything unless you’re zoomed in.  Sometimes you can’t seem to tap things either way, which is the most frustrating situation.  Since the game is not really action oriented, you would think the controls would be a bit more stable.

The graphics overall are very nice, especially the backgrounds.  I like some of the little touches like passing cars reflected in the windows of a shop, for instance.  The people are kind of a mixed bag, but that usually seems to be the case in this type of game.  Now I realize this is supposed to be a hidden object game in many spots, but some of the objects are just too hard to see, and I think that’s because of the small screen size.  Worse yet, when you select help you just get pointed to a general area, and often times you can’t see the object in the area that’s pointed out to you.

The audio is very nice.  The music suits the game quite well, and they actually did an excellent job of voice casting.  The sound effects aren’t bad either, though I think there were some obvious missed opportunities in some scenes.

Overall content wise Laura Jones is an intriguing and entertaining game, and there’s actually quite a bit to do.  It also looks really good and sounds good to boot.  I’m just really disappointed that the controls are so flaky.  I don’t like having to use hints when I’ve clicked on the object I end up getting a hint for 20 times with no response.  I also think they need to make some of the objects just a bit easier to discern from the background.  What works and is acceptable on a big screen doesn’t always translate well to a small one.

App Summary
Title: Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla Developer: Astar Nevosoft, LLC
Reviewed Ver: 2010.06.17 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 66.4 MB
  • Good, involving story
  • Lots to do
  • Excellent audio / video
  • Flaky controls
  • Many objects too hard to see


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