Romance Of Rome in Review – When In Rome…

I know I’ve been touting in my last few hidden object game reviews about how I like the fact that this style of game is becoming more adventure game like as time passes.  However, it’s still good to play a hidden object game every once in a while where the focus is on finding objects.  That’s not to say that Romance of Rome doesn’t have any additional elements going for it, of course.  I just appreciate the fact that the game remembers what it is like to be simpler in nature, without a mini-game lurking around every turn.  Romance Of Rome is lots of fun, and despite the name isn’t very “girly” at all (okay, maybe just a little with the romance).

You play the role of Marcus, a young man who wants to make his name known in the fabled city of Rome.  There also happens to be a girl you’re interested in, but that’s the mushy stuff we won’t talk about.  While the story’s not overly crucial to game play, it’s interesting, and I love the fact that the cut scenes are told like comic books.  You’ll also meet and converse with several characters along the way, as relayed via in-game dialogs between the other characters and a little portrait of yourself in the upper right corner of the screen.

If you’re familiar with hidden object games (aka HOGs), most of this will be old hat.  You get a list of items to look for, and as you find each one in the scene you tap on it.  Some objects become inventory items, and to use them you click on them in your inventory and then click on the scene where you want to use them.  Thankfully “hotspots” on the screen have yellow borders, and unlike a lot of these games, they make it rather obvious where these areas are.

There are also relics that you need to find, but I don’t believe those are in the list of items.  The game will tell you when you’ve found one, however.  Everything seems fairly responsive, and you can actually tap some objects without zooming in (if you can see them).  My main gripe is that it seems like half the screen is covered with interface, but you get used to it after a while.

One thing new to this hidden object game is the idea of status.  As you complete tasks for people you’ll earn status points.  You also gain status through things you buy.  You earn money either by finding it lying around or by finding the items on your list.  The thing I haven’t quite figured out is what impact status really has, because you are basically forced to buy all items in a particular act before you can move on to the next one.  It’s a neat concept, but I would have liked to see it fleshed out some more.  Maybe you shouldn’t be required to buy everything, but your ability to acquire tasks is not as strong if your status is low.  It just seems like a gimmick more than anything else at this point.

The visuals naturally are top notch.  The backgrounds are beautiful and the characters are actually well rendered for the most part.  The comic book style cut scenes look good.  There are, of course, some objects that are ridiculously hard to find because they blend in to the background too well, but I think that will be true no matter what hidden object game you play.  There could be a bit more animation in the background, but overall Romance Of Rome is very pleasing visually.

The sound is quite nice as well.  Every scene has little ambient noises that livens things up, and the developers did a decent job of picking voice actors.  It would be nice if everything they said matched the printed dialog, but you learn to ignore it after a while.  The music is nice to listen to, and I’m really enjoying the song that plays on the main map.  The instrument part of it kind of reminds me of a track from the old game Shadow Of The Beast.

In the end there’s nothing revolutionary about Romance Of Rome.  However, that’s part of its charm.  It manages to take the hidden object game back to its roots and remind us why we fell in love with the genre in the first place.  Aesthetically the game is very polished, and it handles user interaction rather nicely.  The only real way to improve upon this one is to actually make some use of the status system.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Romance of RomeDeveloper: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver:1.1Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$4.99App Size:Size: 95.0 MB
  • Fun without mini-games
  • Interesting story and characters
  • Excellent visuals
  • Status system
  • Same afflictions as other hidden object games
  • Status system not fully utilized

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