By Eric Pankoke on Sat, 10/19/2013
Paranormal Hotel HD (Free, $6.99 to unlock full game) is yet another G5 adventure game. Like many of the newer releases, it gravitates towards the actual adventure side of things with few mini-games and no hidden object scenes. The story is captivating, but the game play isn’t quite as strong as what I’ve come to expect from G5’s adventure offerings. There seems to be a lot of back and forth and dialogs with not so much puzzle solving in between. It still keeps me wanting to play, but more because I’m curious about what’s going to happen rather than looking forward to the next set of puzzles to solve.
In the game you play a detective that gets called away from her vacation to help solve a mystery at a castle in France. The thing is, while your boss and certain other parties want you there, the native lead detective and the mistress of the castle would rather you vacate the premises. What follows is a tale of secret societies, hidden agendas and self revelation. The story is quite intriguing, but keep in mind that it is really more about exploring the supernatural than about solving a traditional criminal mystery, just in case you’re not as much into the former. For those that are or just want to try something different, you should find a lot to like here.
First and foremost this is an adventure game, so besides walking around and talking to people you’ll be collecting objects and solving puzzles. For the most part what you need to do is pretty logical, so the game moves at a pretty decent pace. Sometimes it’s kind of difficult to tell what objects you need to pick up, and at other times you know that you need something you see—for instance the candle lying on the chest when you first enter your hotel room—but the game won’t let you take it because you don’t need it yet. It’s understandable from a plot perspective but kind of annoying from a player point of view. The interface seems a bit flaky when it comes to selecting items in your inventory, but ultimately it’s workable without much fuss. Thankfully many times the items just won’t show up until you can actually take them.
Talking to NPCs the first time through is a bit laborious because you have to click on a topic to further the discussion even though you only get one topic choice at a time. This does come in handy later, however, should you need to or get the chance to review the conversation. The other facet of the game is the mini-games that pop up which you have to solve before advancing further in the game. You can actually skip them if you like, but the reality is that there is only one that might give you reason to hit “the button,” and personally I think the mini-game was expecting a level of accuracy that was too hard to achieve. The rest of the mini-games seemed a bit too easy, even if you didn’t know what you were doing. The primary goal is to simply finish the adventure, which actually seemed a bit on the short side compared to some of G5’s high-end offerings, but there are also several achievements to earn if you want to work toward them.
Overall the visuals are decent; but that’s sort of a balance, as some scenes look really nice and others actually seem a bit grainy and dated. The character designs are good but not exceptional, and there’s nothing that really stands out as taking your breath away. The sound effects do their job, and in some scenes there are actually ambient noises that make things seem a bit more alive. The voices are good but sadly only the intro and closing animations are spoken. The music is good and is probably the most consistent part of the aesthetics.
I enjoyed Brightstone Mysteries: Paranormal Hotel HD, but honestly, not so much for the game play as for the story. The mini-games were mostly too easy, and while the object puzzles started off pretty strong and actually kind of interesting, the latter half of the game felt like you were basically wandering between locations and talking to people. The audio and visual elements of the game weren’t of consistent quality, and even at their best paled compared to some of the other recent offerings from G5. I’m not suggesting you gloss over this title, but from a publisher that has some pretty incredible IPs under their belt, this certainly wouldn’t be my first pick to play.
Overall Score: 3 Stars