Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi Review

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by on June 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi is the latest Midnight Mysteries title to be released. It’s a hidden object adventure title that looks at famous historical authors and uses their literature and their real lives, along with some literary license, to craft a mystery around their life and death. Devil on the Mississippi uses Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens), William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe as its inspiration. The game is a lot of fun, although not quite reaching the stellar caliber that Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials did.

The story begins with Mark Twain, who goes by Samuel Clemens almost the entire game, since this isn’t about his pen name, but his real life, appearing to the player and asking for help. He’s being chased by some evil presence. After serving Mr. Clemens some tea, we are whisked off to a world inhabited only by ghosts, some who were real and some who were fictional creations. The story really revolves around Clemens’ claim that Shakespeare did not write his own works, and of course, there’s some deals with the devil involved in the whole conspiracy. However, the entire game does not take place on the Mississippi, as the title might mislead players to believe. Instead, in addition to looking around Clemens’ own life, we travel back to Shakespeare’s life as well, searching for proof that Shakespeare did not write the plays he’s credited with. There is a lot of truth and fact dispersed among the game, but it’s so mixed up with the fictional bits, it can be hard to determine what is true and what isn’t. For example, Samuel Clemens did, in fact, outlive most of his family. But one of his daughters was still alive when he succumbed, surviving him by more than fifty years.

At its core, Devil on the Mississippi is an adventure title. It is chock full of puzzles, some of which provide an actual challenge. Puzzles range from simple ‘put the pieces in the right place’ types to a more complex ‘figure out the patterns for these numbers’ varieties. There are puzzles that require the player to stack pieces, without them falling, which we found very entertaining and could see an entire casual game with just that premise being quite fun. There was also a battleship style puzzle that was entertaining. All in all, the puzzles in this title really shine, both with variety and with enjoyment. We could have done without the puzzle that requires the players to match up identical objects on two sides, since it really didn’t present any challenge at all and was sort of annoying because of how many objects were being matched, but it’s a minor nitpick, since it’s really the only puzzle we hated.

Outside of the standard adventure game puzzles, there is inventory manipulation, and for a twist, the Midnight Mysteries titles have a combination box. This allows a player to take two objects they’ve collected and combine them by placing an object in each box and hitting the plus sign. Many games allow for this type of puzzle, but the inclusion of the box makes it seem more interesting. It’s generally fairly obvious when two objects have to be combined and the inventory puzzles themselves are never very complicated. If a player tries to use an object that requires they collect more of that type of piece first, as well, the game will tell them how many pieces they need altogether. Most inventory items are gained through completing a hidden object scene, although some are just found in the world and often can be found by looking for sparkles that denote items that can be collected.

The hidden object gameplay is entertaining and can provide a certain level of challenge. There are key items in each scene that are added to the inventory during the collection and, after collecting the list of items in each scene, one main item must be found and that item is always added to the player’s inventory. There are also hidden object collectibles, in the form of ravens (which give the player additional hints) and four leaf clovers. When the player collects 70 four leaf clovers in the story mode of the game, they unlock the unlimited hidden object mode, which allows them to play each scene individually and collect every item available in a timed mode. There is other bonus gameplay that unlocks by completing story mode, such as a bonus scene that adds more to the story and a find ‘dem bones mode that takes players to one area of the game and hides bones to be found in several places. There are achievements, and a couple of them are quite hard to obtain, so that adds replayability to the game as well.

The graphics are very well done. The setting is dark and dreary. All scenes take place at night, adding to that ambience. There are some pop-out scenes, where bats come flying at the screen or the devil jumps out, which are a nice touch. The music is appropriate, but we wish voice-overs were added to the game, since there’s a lot of reading to be done. There’s a journal where the story and objectives are outlined, and those can give hints to what to do in the game, but generally, it’s just there to explain the story – which at times can be confusing. For example, it took us a second playthrough to really understand what Samuel Clemens premonition regarding the Pennsylvania and his brother truly meant. However, once we understood the story, it was fascinating.

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi is a good hidden object/adventure title. There are some areas they could have improved – mainly in the delivery of the story. For some reason, even though we love this game, it feels like it misses the mark from where Salem Witch Trials left us, and we’re not entirely sure why. Perhaps the story with Salem Witch Trials was just that much more compelling or the gameplay was executed better. Not comparing this title to its previous stellar release (which is our highest rated hidden object title to date), but to other hidden object games out there, it stands above the crowd. It’s well worth the play and the purchase price and anyone looking for a game with a lot of playtime and a replayability factor won’t be disappointed with Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi.

Score: 8.7

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