I know it's possible to have more than one really good game in a given genre but as far as hidden object games on the iPad are concerned The Cursed Heart has set an extremely high bar that's going to be hard to reach let alone beat. Tales From The Dragon Mountain doesn't even come close in that regards, and in a way it's unfortunate that I chose this one as my next hidden object game to play. On the other hand, it actually does a couple things really well, and in the end manages to suck you in until the final battle with Strix. You just have to look past a few things like aging graphics, relatively short play time and overly simple mini-games.
You play Mina, the granddaughter of a human tasked with protecting a magical kingdom from evil forces. If you're already starting to feel the cliches creeping in, you're not alone. That's not to say there isn't anything original about the Dragon Mountain but there's definitely a lot of "been there, seen that" to be had. The game is divided into six chapters that range from decent size to if you blink you'll miss it. If you breeze through the mini-games you could complete your journey in a couple of hours playing relaxed mode. On the plus side, you don't spend enormous amounts of time needlessly traipsing through twenty rooms just to get one quest complete like a lot of adventure games do. I’d rather have short and to the point than all over the place just for the sake of length.
Speaking of which, another thing this game really did well was that it eliminated hidden object screens in the traditional sense of the concept. Even when you have screens where there is a list of things to find, every item you collect has a purpose and goes into your inventory. To pick items up you simply tap on them, then tap them again from inventory to use them. You can also interact with objects and speak to other characters by tapping. Mini-games are some combination of tapping and dragging, which for the most part works well except that on occasion when you have a mini-game where you must construct an object from pieces the pieces can sometimes get stuck off screen such that there isn’t enough exposed for you to drag the wayward piece. I’ve had to restart a puzzle once or twice because of that.
When I first played through the game I wasn’t overly impressed with the visuals. As I’ve been going through it a second time to actually listen to some of the music I will admit that the graphics are starting to grow on me, though they still don’t quite live up to the standard I’ve come to expect from a G5 published game. Some scenes seemed unnecessarily dark, and there was a time or two when I had to use a hint and still couldn’t tell what the object was that I was tapping. The sound effects are fine and fortunately don’t get annoying at all, but nothing really stands out either. The voices aren’t too bad except that Malik’s is a bit irritating. I frankly didn’t pay much mind to the music the first time around, but as I’m going through part of the game again to complete this review I’m noticing that the background music is actually very pretty.
Ultimately what you end up with in Tales From The Dragon Mountain: The Strix is a solid adventure that doesn’t wow but certainly doesn’t waste your time. With all the hidden object games that appear on the market between G5 and Big Fish Games this is probably one that will get lost in the shuffle, but if you have a couple of hours to spare and are in the mood for an interesting if somewhat typical fantasy adventure, you could do a whole lot worse than The Strix.
Overall Score: 7/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 running iOS 5.1.1.