Hidden Mysteries: Notre Dame - Secrets of Paris is a hidden object title that allows players to explore Notre Dame while solving a mystery. The art style is nice and the hidden object aspect is well done, if not terribly challenging. There are several puzzles, none of which offer any sort of impediment to completing the game, since they fall in the easy category. The story is fine, although there are a couple elements that aren’t explained well and the twist, which we didn’t see coming, is a bit far-fetched for what the game was originally set up to be.
The story begins at Notre Dame, as the clergyman who is assigned to walk the rounds discovers that the most valuable treasure the church holds, the Crown of Thorns, has gone missing. He calls in the police and the player steps in as a female detective who is glad to have the cover of night because she has some unorthodox investigative techniques. We suppose this to mean that she sorts through piles of junk strewn about Notre Dame (a very unlikely scenario in itself) to find clues and solve puzzles, since there wasn’t actually anything interesting about her investigation, other than her illegal breaking and entering techniques, which could also be what she meant. The story jumps the shark about halfway in. We’re going along, discovering other missing artifacts and inching closer to finding clues to the burgler when we encounter a ghost. Yup! A ghost. We didn’t see it coming and if you play before you read this, you won’t either. If you read this first, sorry about the spoiler. The story ends up being about the supernatural and a thief whose motive isn’t all that suspect, when you get right down to it.
The hidden object aspect is well done. Objects are easy to find within their given areas, and if necessary, the hint is available and recharges quickly, although most players probably won’t need a hint at all, since there’s not much challenge to finding the list of objects. Areas with lists are denoted by sparkles, and each area yields an item that can be used to complete inventory puzzles or open locked locations. There are quite a few locations and players will have to return over and over again to certain locations to obtain all the objects and solve all the puzzles, and there really doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to the order. The map is convenient, letting players know if there is something that can be done in any given location, so we weren’t wandering aimlessly looking for an elusive puzzle we could solve.
As for the puzzles, they are run-of-the-mill puzzles that don’t bring anything original to the table. On top of that, they are extremely easy to solve, and if a player does get stuck, they can be skipped after a certain amount of time. There were two puzzles that stuck out to us as good. The first involved solving equations, roman numeral style, to come up with a solution. The other was a count the tiles puzzle, moving up, down, left and right - although this one presented absolutely no challenge, we enjoyed it nonetheless and would have liked to have seen that puzzle type pushed in difficulty. The rest of the puzzles were average to boring.
Hidden Mysteries: Notre Dame - Secrets of Paris is aesthetically pleasing, if not the most gorgeous title we’ve played. It’s artwork style runs towards the rustic. The music was average and there were no voiceovers, so sound wasn’t anything to write home about. The rest of the game is ok, although extremely easy. The story and the resolution are appropriate for any age player and may be a good starter game for the younger audience or players new to the genre. There’s nothing about this game that strikes us as a must-play-title and for most people, we would recommend playing the demo first to find out if this game would appeal to them before dishing out any dough.
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