Pahelika: Secret Legends in Review: Questing For A Mystical Book

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I’ve already written may reviews on adventure games, yet in spite of, or maybe because of that I’ve been struggling with how to start this one.  Something I’ve noticed with most adventure games these days is that they struggle to provide a decent balance between story telling, puzzle solving and any of the various extras like hidden object scenes or mini games that they choose to throw in.  Pahelika: Secret Legends seems to do a pretty decent job in terms of game play because it’s mostly puzzle solving with just a few mini games thrown in, which is the way I like it to be balanced.  It even does a decent job of trying to present a story, though most of the communication outside of cut scenes between levels is just your character describing where he’s at.  Still, Pahelika is overall a decent adventure game that just suffers from a few niggling annoyances.review-pahelika-secret-legends-2

Pahelika begins with a brief narrated comic book style intro that discusses leadership, tyranny and redemption, and before long you inadvertently find yourself on a quest to find a mystical book.  There’s something just slightly Jumanji-ish about the whole thing, but it makes for a nice adventure game background.  Unfortunately, once you stray from the cut scenes there’s little to advance the stories short of the main character’s narration when he enters most rooms, though all that does is really give you his point of view on the room you’re entering.  I’m not a big proponent of things like notes or diary pages strewn throughout the locations, but fleshing out the story at a consistent pace is something more of these games need to strive for.  If you don’t know what I mean, check out the old Lucas Arts or Sierra games, or more recently the folks at TellTale Games to get a good feel for the way it should be.

Game play is pretty typical – discover a new location, explore it for items to solve puzzles then solve said puzzles.  Usually the answers to the puzzles are somewhere fairly intuitive or even spelled out in the level somehow, though occasionally the answers to situations felt a bit arbitrary and forced.  There were no hidden object scenes, but it did feel like sometimes you had to hunt and peck for the items you needed because they didn’t stand out from anything else in the scene you were exploring.  Mini-games basically came in three flavors – putting a jigsaw puzzle together, sliding blocks around so that you could move one of them to a specific location and arranging runes based on a pattern that was established by three that were preset for you.  Generally the mini games were easy to complete, but you always have the option to skip them after a set amount of time.  Overall the game play felt pretty balanced though there were a couple of instances where I had no clue what to do and one time the hint button told me it had no hints for me no matter which room I walked into.

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The interface is also pretty standard.  Tap an item to pick it up, and then either drag it from your inventory to where you want to use it in your current scene or tap the item and tap the destination location.  You can also drag items onto each other to combine them if appropriate.  Most of the time this wasn’t a problem, but a couple of puzzles are a bit too small and can get a bit frustrating trying to place objects in the appropriate spots.  If you’re one of those folks that like achievements no matter what the genre there are 18 of them for you to earn.  You can also create multiple profiles so several people can play at the same time, which is a feature every adventure game should employ.

Visually Pahelika is quite pleasant.  As I mentioned before some objects can blend in a bit too well or be a tad small, but as a whole the graphics are very well rendered with a nice level of detail.  The sound effects aren’t bad, and there is typically quite a bit of ambient noise throughout the levels.  The music is extremely well written.  I honestly didn’t notice it much the first time I played through the game (maybe I had the sound down too low), but as I replayed the first three worlds while writing this review I realized that the songs can be quite beautiful at times.

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As a freshman effort from IronCode Gaming, Pahelika: Secret Legends is an extremely solid starting point.  The engine interface is polished and fairly solid, the aesthetics are professional and the game play is pretty well balanced.  I’d like to see a bit more story throughout the game instead of just between worlds, and if you’re only going to have a couple of different styles of mini-game strewn throughout please don’t make any of them be sliding block style games.  Otherwise I can say that everything I’ve experienced on this journey has me excited to check out part 2, which is already available on the App Store.

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App Summary
Title: Pahelika: Secret Legends – A Search and Find Hidden Object AdventureDeveloper: IronCode Gaming
Reviewed Ver:1.1Min OS Req:6.0
Price:$4.99App Size:90.2 MB
  • Solid, polished interface
  • Balanced game play
  • Sharp visuals
  • Excellent music
  • Objects sometimes blend into the background too well
  • Occasionally difficult to determine how to proceed
  • Story could be unveiled at a better pace

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