I won’t say that G5 Entertainment can do no wrong, but their crop of new releases over the last couple of months hasn’t let me down yet. As it turns out, The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley is no exception to that rule. I have to admit that I’m just a bit disappointed that it sways towards the more traditional hidden object game format. That being said, it still keeps me going back for more, and in the end that’s all that matters.
The premise of the game is a bit peculiar. You play the everyday man that is basically bored with his life and decides to buy a magic book from a late night infomercial. You suddenly find yourself transported to a mystical valley where you must train to become a wizard and rid the valley of an evil curse. You’ll do this by exploring several locations while collecting items in order to learn 16 different spells (well, it’s actually 16 different levels of spell, so might only learn 4 or 5 spells).
To height the book motif each spell has its own chapter which is comprised of two or more hidden object screens and a mini-game. Hidden object levels have 10 items apiece, and you must collect a certain number of items between all the levels to learn the spell. At the end of the chapter you are graded for your accomplishments, and you can earn a + next to that grade if you find all the hidden objects in the chapter. The levels are timed, and the longer you take to find the objects, the less time you get to complete the mini-game at the end of the chapter (though you can “cheat” and skip the mini-game).
Honestly, the mini-games are kind of blah. One is basically another hidden object game where you search for word fragments to create a phrase. There are different combinations of fragments that will work, plus a lot of superfluous fragments, but you are required to have a certain number of fragments – no more, no less. If you accidentally select an incorrect fragment you can clear the answer board and start over, but sadly there isn’t a way to remove a single fragment from the answer space. The other mini-game has you matching three or more similar elements to clear them from the board. When they disappear new elements take their place, but the rest of the board does not shift. If you get stuck you can tap the potion to shuffle all the elements. There’s nothing wrong with this mini-game, it’s just not all that exciting.
Control is fairly standard and simple. You zoom in and out using pinch movements and drag your finger to pan the screen. Tap on an object to select it in hidden object and “find the phrase” modes, and drag your finger through adjacent similar objects to select them in the match 3 mini-game. On dark levels panning around the screen can be a bit jerky, and sometimes it’s hard to select all the objects in the match 3 board because of the small screen. Overall, though, the controls are pretty responsive.
The overall visual presentation is nice without being too noteworthy. The actual hidden object screens, however, range from very well done to somewhat stunning. The only thing I don’t care for is that the color spectrums tend to be rather dark, and it often makes it difficult to find smaller objects. I would imagine that the bigger screen on the iPad alleviates that problem somewhat, but I haven’t had the opportunity to verify that. The sound effects that correlate to actions are pretty standard, but some of these scenes have so much ambient noise that you really feel like there is stuff going on besides what you’re looking at. I love the music in The Magician’s Handbook. It’s possible I’ve been watching too many movies with my son, but it reminds me of the soundtrack to a Scooby Doo cartoon.
So what this boils down to is that The Magician’s Handbook is another solid offering from G5 Entertainment. There’s nothing revolutionary about the game, and in some ways it even feels like a step backwards compared to many modern hidden object games, but it’s challenging and entertaining enough to draw me back in every time I play. I do hope that if there’s a sequel they come up with some better mini-games, though.
|Title:||The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley (Full)||Developer:||G5 Entertainment|
|Reviewed Ver:||Min OS Req:||3.0|