The Secret of Grisly Manor in Review – It’s not THAT big of a secret.

One of the genres that fit especially well on an iDevice are first-person adventure games. These echoes of the golden age of adventure games, ones that actually helped usher in the CD era at some point (see my Myst review), are quite playable even on the smallish screen of an iPhone or iPod Touch and are surprisingly popular on these platforms. Enter The Secret of Grisly Manor, promising over 50 locations to explore and solve. Let’s take them up on that offer!

The Secret of Grisly Manor is a first-person adventure game true to the path laid down by Myst and the like. Your grandpa, an eccentric old inventor, suddenly disappears. But not before sending you a cryptic letter, inviting you to visit his remote estate to witness something “truly amazing”. And true to newspaper reports, you find the manor empty when you finally reach it. What lies behind this mysterious disappearance? Can you find your grandpa? Well, there’s only one way to find out…

Playing Grisly Manor is roughly the same as any other Myst-like title out there. You have the mansion and the surrounding areas to explore and solve. The puzzles are a mix between item-based and actual mini-games. The latter most commonly consist of the necessity of finding clues in other locations to pinpoint the code required to solve the puzzle. Overall the difficulty level is quite low and you’re unlikely to encounter any troubles.

Grisly Manor boasts over 50 locations to explore, though how they came up with this number remains a mystery to me. In reality the game boils down to a 2-story mansion with an attic and a few more locations outside. I didn’t do any strict calculations but would estimate the game having little more than a dozen true locations with one or two puzzles in each, plus possibly some clues or items. And if this raised your concern about the game’s length – you’re absolutely right. It took me roughly 2 hours to complete all of it – only to be rewarded with an unexpectedly quick and cheesy finale.

Maybe the game makes up for it in technical terms? The graphics are nicely drawn, though lack Retina support. The interface is quite well done and fully uses touch controls, making the game easy to play. You can toggle the inventory display via the briefcase icon, though you’ll hard pressed to learn anything about the stuff in it apart from its name. The biggest issue I had were the frustratingly long loading times between locations, which is unforgivable on an iPhone 4.

The Secret of Grisly Manor is a decent adventure game if you’re new to the genre and looking for something to hone your skills with. It has enough to entertain you for a few hours and nice enough visuals to make the process enjoyable, at least at its current price of $0.99. However, if you’re looking for something with a solid and intriguing storyline or even the slightest challenge, this is a title I would pass on in favour of more established ones like 1112 episode 02 (TMA Review).

With this I declare The Secret of Grisly Manor officially touched!

App Summary
Title: The Secret of Grisly ManorDeveloper: Fire Maple Games
Reviewed Ver:1.2Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$0.99App Size:13.96MB
  • Nice graphics
  • Intuitive interface
  • Both environment and inventory based puzzles
  • Very short
  • Too easy
  • Cheesy ending
  • Excessively long location loading times


Can’t get enough of the adventure genre for the iDevice? Take a look at these TMA articles/reviews!

  • I agree with you on everything except the comment of it being too easy. I think for the most part the puzzles were decent enough. They gave you something to think about without being hair pulling. I think what this really proves is that there is a reason most adventure games have NPCs with dialog – if you just strip out the puzzle parts and make a game from it then the game will invariably be way too short.

    I did enjoy the game, though the ending certainly was a let down. The developer did promise that the next outing would be bigger and better, so we’ll see how that works out.

  • Louis

    Enjoyable game while it lasted, though the difficulty level will likely vary for different players. I found some puzzles very easy, while others it took me some time to figure out (i.e trying to find the keyword for colored alphabets on the fridge).

    One thing we can all agree on though is that the ending blows :)

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