Monday, July 23, 2007

G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor Review

G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor, developed and published by Aisle 5 Games.
The Good: Object list changes for successive play, good setting with creepy music, no penalty for an occasional bad guess
The Not So Good: No difficulty settings, repetitive in the long run
What say you? A fine hidden object game for an older audience: 6/8

MY POORLY WRITTEN INTRODUCTION
The existence of ghosts has been a hotly debated topic for quite some time. My opinion on the matter was swayed by the fact-based documentary Ghostbusters. There have been individuals pursuing paranormal activity for many years, and G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor puts you on the frontlines against the forces of evil. Well, it’s a hidden object game where you must uncover clues by finding, surprise, hidden objects. I guess ghosts like a tidy house. My hidden object pedigree goes back to Highlights magazine, which I used to read while waiting at the eye doctor when I was little (you know, like two weeks ago). Will G.H.O.S.T. Hunters provide a quality gameplay experience? What exactly does the acronym stand for?

GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Obviously one of the more important aspects of a hidden object game is the graphics, and G.H.O.S.T. Hunters does a good job at providing challenging levels in which to do your sleuthing. The game is played at a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels, which is high enough to satisfy me. G.H.O.S.T. Hunters features a good variety of environments to search through and a lengthy list of objects to find. The developers use some of the usual tricks in hiding the objects, mostly putting them against a same-colored background or partially behind other objects, but overall the puzzles are well-done and provide a challenge without being overly difficult. Since the game deals with the paranormal, G.H.O.S.T. Hunters features some sinister background music. Although it is repetitive, the door opening creeps me out every time. The music fits the theme of the game well, and G.H.O.S.T. Hunters does have a nice theme that makes your object hunting at least a little bit plausible. Overall, G.H.O.S.T. Hunters is above average in terms of graphics and sound, providing a challenging environment in a good setting.

ET AL.
During your time at Majesty Manor, you will scour numerous rooms for hidden objects in order to uncover clues. You have an amount of time (about half an hour) to find most (but not all, thankfully) of the objects in several rooms (usually three to four). I like that you are not locked in to a single room, as you tend to find some objects if you exit and come back later. Also, the fact that the game doesn’t require you to find every object makes scouring for especially difficult objects less of an impossible trial. These rooms are extremely messy (didn’t Majesty Manor have a maid?) and G.H.O.S.T. Hunters has a high challenge level. The one thing that the game lacks is a difficulty setting; I would like each of the objects to be rated according to difficult and then include those particular objects at each level. As it stands, G.H.O.S.T. Hunters is not appropriate for children or novices as you can’t make the game any easier. The game does come with a number of nice features. First, there is no penalty for an occasional bad guess: the game will reduce your time allotment if you randomly click around, but if you miss every once in a while there will be no penalty. Each level contains a lot of objects and most of them are detractors. However, if you play the same level again in a new game, the object list will change and eventually take advantage of each object in the room. This is a neat feature that gives G.H.O.S.T. Hunters some replay value, something that hidden object games typically lack. After a couple of puzzles, you have an idea of what things look like and where they are likely to be hidden so the game does become easier over time. G.H.O.S.T. Hunters offers a hint system where you a provided a limited number of opportunities to narrow in on an object’s location. The cursor changes into a wand and beeps as you get closer to an object. It’s a neat dynamic that’s more interactive than just highlighting the mystery location. G.H.O.S.T. Hunters ends up being better than most hidden object games and a good choice for fans of the genre.

IN CLOSING
G.H.O.S.T. Hunters is a well designed hidden object game that takes the basics of the genre and adds useful features that make the gameplay more approachable. The theme of the game is well done and promotes the gameplay. G.H.O.S.T. Hunters has better features than other hidden object games. For example, searching through several rooms at once breaks up the monotony of searching a single room for objects you can’t find. The help system helps in place of being too obvious. The game has more replay value than a lot of hidden object games due to the randomization of the object list each time you play. I would like to see more difficulty settings to make the game appeal to a wider audience, but experienced and/or older players will find enjoyment here. You either like hidden object games or you don’t, but if you do than G.H.O.S.T. Hunters is pretty entertaining.