Friday, November 28, 2014

Game Review - Nevertales: The Beauty Within

Game Review - Nevertales: The Beauty Within
Score: +4/-6
Summary: Interesting and fantastical story. Pacing and variety is good. Interesting use of Achievements for replay value.

In many ways, criticisms in review will apply to many contemporary hidden object games, and are not to be taken as faults unique to this game.
+-- For the most part artwork is very nice, but character animations when speaking, through the use of image distortion instead of actual facial animation, make the characters look disturbing rather than realistic.
- Fuzzy cutscenes, especially if you play on higher resolutions. Example:

Nevertales 1 cutscene screenshot
+ Convenient replays of hidden object games for achievements involving spotting "morphing items". Because this unlocks achievements and further features, it really helps to have the replay available without having to replay the entire game. Also, if you are only missing a morphing object in a hidden object game, you can just locate that object in the replay instead of completely replaying the hidden object game scene.
+ Achievements for replay value: You can replay hidden object game scenes to score achievements with better time and accuracy -- unlike other games, where you typically can't rollback to redo a scene unless you located and backed up your savegame first.
- Sloppy hidden object scenes with multiple possibilities but only one right answer. For example, in the scene below, you are tasked to find a "Leaf", of which there are two possibilities, but the "correct" one is behind the fan.

Nevertales 1 - multiple leaves

In this other example, you are required to find a "Cherry", and there are two in the scene, but the one on the milkshake is incorrect. The entire milkshake shows up later as an objective to find.

Nevertales 1 - two cherries
- Non-intuitive puzzles and click areas. For example, in the scene below, you need to get a "shiny armor piece" to distract a raven. But you have to somehow know to get that piece and then hover your mouse all over the armor until the cursor changes context to know you can grab the dull lustre piece marked in the walkthrough below as "E".

Nevertales 1 - "Shiny Armor Part" walkthrough page 2

Nevertales 1 - "Shiny Armor Part" walkthrough page 1

+- Interesting story with a variety of environments and some tense cutscenes where you really don't know how you will end up. They do try hard to keep the momentum and tension, although this is pretty impossible to do in a hidden object game where you can have as much time as you like. However, implausibly hidden items (e.g., a musical instrument hidden behind a stone in a castle outer wall) make you take the hidden objects games less seriously and pull you out of story immersion.

If you have played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you may spot the Elven Bow easter egg, as well as Azura's Moon-and-Star motif in the game.

Skyrim Elven Bow easter egg

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