Stray Souls – Dollhouse Story is a hidden object/adventure title. The production value is stellar. The story is haunting, the hidden object gameplay is excellent and the adventure aspects are polished. Two things take this from a perfect game to a must play imperfect game, and those are its length (it’s pretty short and leaves us wanting more) and the lack of any extra features, like trophies or bonus modes.
A newly married couple are settling into their home when the unthinkable happens. The husband, Sam, opens the door, sees a box and immediately disappears. His wife then embarks on a journey to discover what happened to him, in the process, learning about his history and some secrets he failed to mention. This journey takes her to a haunted town, where she must save Sam from destruction. The story really shines. The ending is excellent, although a bit abrupt. All along the way, elements that might be confusing are explained, so we were never left wondering about anything relating to the story. It’s a very satisfying tale, if a bit on the scary side.
There are three major elements to the gameplay: hidden object scenes, puzzles and figuring out what to do next in each scene. Some of the guesswork is taken out through different elements in the game. Hidden object scenes are sparkly. In the journal, which keeps track of progress and clues, there’s a map section. The map highlights scenes that have something that can be done in them in green. The hint system recharges quickly, one or two minutes depending on the difficulty level the player chooses. The hidden object scenes are well done, keeping with the scary theme of the game. They are relayed in word list format and are never so confusing or convoluted that a hint is absolutely necessary. The puzzles are generally fun to figure out and never too difficult. Of course, that said, they aren’t very innovative either. The most interesting puzzle was one in which we had figure out how to move a skull from the top to the bottom without it getting caught by moving squares that moved every time the skull was moved.
The adventure aspects to the gameplay really had us thinking back to the horror games of the mid 90s fondly. Figuring out which objects to use in which areas was usually not too difficult, but occasionally, we had to stop and think it through. The great thing about this part of the game, though, unlike some of those aforementioned horror adventure games, was that everything made complete sense in its use. We use a shovel to dig up dirt, a crowbar to break up boards and electrical tape to connect wires together. We really appreciate the use of logic in a game. There was also a collectible aspect, called Beyond Objects. These items changed appearance on the screen, but unfortunately, there was no reward for collecting all thirty-six.
The graphics and sound were all very well done, setting a scene and a tone for the game that was meant to put players on the edge of their seats. Overall, Stray Souls – Dollhouse Story is an excellent title and well worth the purchase price. If we had to nitpick, extra modes would have been on the top of our list. No game has ever gone astray adding in trophies and timed unlimited scenes. Even without those extras, which we always, always, always knock a game for not having – this title is fantastic. An intriguing and spooky story and great gameplay are awaiting you, so don’t wait any longer – go play it.
|Big Fish Games:|