Forgotten Places: Regained Castle in Review: A Tale Worth Remembering

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When it comes to hidden object games, Big Fish Games and G5 Entertainment seem to have dominated the mobile market.  However, if more developers / publishers start turning out games like Forgotten Places: Regained Castle, the “big two” might actually start facing some serious competition in this genre.  The game is certainly not without its flaws, but it’s one of the best “third party” hidden object games I’ve played in quite a while.  This is actually the second in a series, and I hope it does well enough to warrant a third installment.

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The game starts off with a cliché, as the protagonist receives that ever ominous “letter of doom” from a loved one that brings her to a location that has naturally been run down over the years.  Adventure game predictability aside, the story is still interesting enough to keep you playing, as the mysterious death of your guardian brings to light some troubling family secrets.  The story is told through a combination of interaction with other characters, news clippings and other articles that you find lying around the premises, and a couple of odd but compelling animated flashback sequences.  I was a bit disappointed that there were some obvious translation problems in the English text, but at least it was nowhere near “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” standards.

As has become the norm with this style of game, the game play is broken down into three areas: object based puzzles, hidden object scenes and mini-games.  This particular offering falls under the category I like to call “better balance”, meaning that the majority of the game play focuses on object based puzzles.  And, given the large number of screens you’ll explore in Regained Castle, that’s a lot of objects to find and manipulate.  The hidden object screens are fairly standard, and unfortunately forego some of the more modern nuances like embedded mini-games or manipulating items to get the item you’re actually looking for.  On the other hand, they also don’t sport some of the more annoying traits like shadow lists instead of words or the ever bland “find 15 of the exact same type of object”.  The mini-games are the worst part of this mix.  At best they are a distraction for a few minutes, but there are a couple of times where they are downright frustrating.  Creating the philosopher’s stone near the end was passable but made no sense to me, and as a general rule one should never put any variation of the “jump objects until only one remains” puzzle in a game.

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There are a couple of interface features in Regained Castle that I really like.  The first is what I call the “hold hint” feature.  If you keep your finger on the screen for a couple of seconds, as long as you’re not touching an interactive spot, you’ll get a display of icons that reveals every exit, area that you can explore and item that you can interact with.  The other element that I truly appreciate is the interactive map.  It shows you every location that has a quest you can work on, and it even lets you jump directly to that area.  Now the “purists” among you might consider one or both of these features somewhat akin to cheating, but the beauty is that you don’t have to use them.  Personally, I took as much advantage as I could of both.

Once you complete the game you’ll unlock some extras.  While the concept is a nice bonus for the players, in this particular case I was fairly underwhelmed.  What you’re treated to is the ability to replay the hidden object scenes as well as being able to flip through the diary of the major plot points that you noted throughout the game.  You can also peruse the collection of butterflies you acquired, assuming you took the time to find them at each of the locations you visited.  I suppose it might be entertaining for a little while to re-conquer some of the hidden object stages, but otherwise there’s no real reason to revisit any of the information presented in the extras area.

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The visuals in Regained Castle are quite appealing.  The backgrounds are finely detailed and there are nice little touches of animation strewn throughout the locations.  The characters are also well designed.  The animation in the few cut scenes looks a bit stiff, but otherwise the graphics are very polished.  Unfortunately about all I can say regarding the sound effects is that they are not really memorable one way or the other.  It would be nice if there were voiceovers, at least for the conversations.  Thankfully the music saves the day in the audio department, with a soundtrack that does a good job of complimenting the mood of the game, and which at times actually sounds a bit eerie (I like creepy music in games).  In fact, the ability to listen to the soundtrack outside of the game proper would have been a welcome alternative to browsing through all the butterflies I had captured.

Forgotten Places: Regained Castle is another fine example of how to make a hidden object game (though given the game balance it might be more appropriate to call it an adventure game with hidden object scenes).  The aesthetics will get you hooked and the story will keep pulling you back in.  There’s plenty to do and the interface makes it relatively easy to get everything accomplished without feeling like you’re spending most of your time traipsing back and forth.  The mini games could use some tweaking and the extras could stand to be a bit more “extra”, but overall Regained Castle is the complete package when it comes to this sort of game.  I wonder what the next Forgotten Place will be?

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App Summary
Title: Forgotten Places: Regained Castle – A Hidden Object Adventure (Full)Developer: Andriy Pertsov
Reviewed Ver:1.1.3Min OS Req: iOS 6.0
Price:$4.99App Size:478.21MB
  • Interesting story that draws you in
  • Game play that leans toward object based puzzles
  • Useful map and “hint hold” system
  • Nice visuals and music
  • Mini-games need to be revamped
  • The extras don’t feel very “extra”

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