By Eric Pankoke on Thu, 09/06/2012
I don’t recall when I got interested in hidden object games, but I think I was pretty much hooked from the first one I played. They were challenging, yet unlike adventure games I didn’t have to worry about any gaps between play times because there was nothing for me to forget that would affect my progress in the game. Eventually, though, it was nice to see hidden object games start to blend in more adventure game style elements, and now it seems like the line is often blurred between the genres. Still, the concept was starting to get stagnant again… and then along came Nightmare From The Deep: Cursed Heart. I could barely put this game down, and thankfully I have the collector’s edition which has an additional adventure now that I’ve completed the main tale.
As far as the story is concerned, this game has it all – love, betrayal, vengeance, redemption and more. Now normally I wouldn’t condone a love story, but throw in a few dead pirates and a skull shaped island and I’m willing to make an exception. The tale is told through journals and by several of the main characters, all of whom happen to be dead with the exception of you and your daughter. Your main task is to free your captured daughter, but in the end you’ll also help reunite the dead pirate captain and his equally incapacitated mistress. Much of the story was told through the keeper of a special treasure chest that required a coin for each part of the tale he told, and I found myself wanting to find the coins so I could hear more of the story.
The game itself is a nice balance of gathering objects to complete objectives and searching for items in hidden object screens. One thing I really liked about this game was that instead of actually searching for the objects in a hidden object screen you could play a game of Mahjong to “find” everything. I would often hunt for as many things as I could find and then play Mahjong to find the few remaining items that were giving me problems. There were also a few mini-games that were interesting and not too taxing. Overall there was a nice variety of game play that kept the game from getting boring and quite honestly put this release at the top of my list in terms of this type of game. The only thing I didn’t care for was the amount of wandering back and forth you had to do. Granted each area has a map that you can find, but the map really would have been a lot more useful if you could take notes on it or tap it to go to a particular location.
If you get through the game and for some reason don’t feel like you’ve yet gotten your money’s worth, there are three difficulty settings that allow you to explore the game again with added challenges. There are also several achievements to earn, some of which might prompt you to play through more than once. With the collector’s edition you can even play each of the hidden object scenes and mini-games without going through the entire adventure, and there’s a bonus adventure that picks up right where the original leaves off.
The graphics are amazing. The backgrounds are extremely well drawn and quite detailed, and the hidden object scenes give you a workout but certainly aren’t overwhelmed with clutter. Even the characters look really good, which is often not the case for this type of game, though the lip syncing is horrible. The sound effects are actually decent, and there’s some nice background noise especially in the bonus adventure. While the voices might not match up with the visuals well, they did a great job of casting the people that provided the character vocals. The music is perfectly suited for the game and at times is hauntingly beautiful.
While no publisher or developer is perfect, G5 has been pretty consistent about impressing me with the titles that add to their portfolio. Even so, I was actually starting to get burnt out by the whole hidden object genre. Nightmares From The Deep came along just in time to rekindle my excitement for this type of game play. An engaging story, a nice balance in game play and plenty to do all make this game worth playing from beginning to end. The wandering back and forth was a bit annoying at times, but overall Cursed Heart does just about everything right.
Overall Score: 10/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 running iOS 5.1.1.