Vampire Saga: Pandora’s Box in review – When you mess with the undead…

As hidden object games are becoming more popular on the iPhone, it’s nice to see variants coming out that are more than just a combination of searching for objects and playing mini-games. In the case of Vampire Saga, it really feels more like an adventure game that just happens to use hidden object scenes in order for you to find some of the key objects for solving puzzles in the game.  Additionally, it actually has a gripping story.  Combined with excellent visuals and stirring music, Vampire Saga: Pandora’s Box is probably one of the best hidden object games to come along in a while.

Tyler knows it’s going to be a bad day when he arrives at his grandfather’s house to witness what looks like a minor war zone.  His wildest imagination wouldn’t have prepared him for the tale his grandfather weaves, however.  Discover the fate of two generations as you interact with a tale that spans multiple countries and the turn of the century.  You’ll have to explore the grandfather’s destroyed house, two 19th century ships and part of an abandoned island before the game is through.

Getting around is simple.  When there’s someplace to go, a symbol of stairs or a door or footsteps will appear that you can click on.  Finding the hidden object areas is easy as well, since there will be a sparkle about them.  Finding things to interact with outside of the hidden object areas isn’t always easy, however.  Sometimes they’ll sparkle and sometimes they won’t.  Sometimes you have to click on just the right spot to get under something instead of next to it, as an example.

Once you’re in the hidden object area you can double click to zoom in or out, and drag your finger to slide the screen around.  Often it seems like objects are more responsive to being picked up when you’re trying to drag the screen than when you’re actually clicking directly on the object.  There are only a couple of mini-games to play, and the first one – which requires you to pick a lock with a hairpin – is nearly impossible to manipulate.  I’m not a big fan of the controls.

There were a couple of features of Vampire Saga that I did really appreciate.  When you’re zoomed in on a hidden object screen, the names of objects you’re looking for that are on the screen will be highlighted.  When you’re not on the hidden object screens you can still use the hint button, and it will tell you if there’s nothing to do in a particular room at the time you press it.

The visuals are pretty sharp indeed.  The backgrounds look great, there are some nice effects on some of the scenes, and the objects are generally pretty easy to determine once you know what you’re looking for.  The main thing I don’t care for were the cut scenes.  The 3D rendered characters are okay but not great, and the “animation” in the cut scenes often seemed stilted.  It’s almost like they would have been better off with static screens.

On the other hand, the sound effects are typically spot on.  A lot of times this type of game is weak in that department, but the audio guys did a great job on Vampire Saga.  The music is pretty incredible, and could quite easily find its way into the sound track of the next big monster flick on the silver screen.  I especially liked the music during the grandpa’s journey.

I had some issues with the controls, which at times were more of a nuisance than they should have been.  That aside, I was quite captivated with Vampire Saga.  Even though I thought I knew the whole story ahead of time, I didn’t want to put the game down until I got to the end.  I was actually a bit surprised.  If you’re a fan of adventure games or hidden object games this one is definitely worth your while.

App Summary
Title: Vampire Saga: Pandora’s Box Developer: Seller: Alawar Entertainment, Inc
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: Requires iPhone OS 3.1.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 97.9 MB
  • Engaging story
  • Excellent visuals
  • Superb music
  • Somewhat problematic controls


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