Saturday, December 13, 2014
Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors Review - SPOILER WARNING
In this post we will discuss one of the innovative features in Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors (and Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel), the third game in the Nevertales hidden object game series.
Stop reading if you want to play the game and don't want it to be ruined for you.
In general, hidden object games are linear stories with unlimited time for you to solve each puzzle. It is standard now to allow you to skip puzzles.
For these reasons -- particularly the fact that you have the luxury of time because these are meant to be "casual" games -- there is often little or no ability to inject real tension into the game.
The earlier Nevertales tried hard to invoke this sense with surprising turns of events and sudden "danger" to the character you played. I say "danger" in quotes, because in general you have unlimited time to figure out what to do, so the sense of danger and overall story immersion rapidly deteriorates.
Something that they added in Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors was choice. In various scenes, you are given a choice of what to do. This is typically non-existent in hidden object games because the story is typically linear (probably to make sure you do not accidentally progress too far by picking up the wrong object or solving the wrong puzzle too soon). When you are suddenly presented with a choice, such as whether to tell your mother the truth or lie to her, it invokes not only the shock of novelty in a hidden object game, but the promise of consequence.
And here is where Nevertales ultimately fails, because there is NO consequence to your choices.
I think there could have been great potential here if your choices did ultimately have some effect, even if in just the end-game cutscenes. Of course, it would be even better if your choices branched the game into completely different tasks, even for a little while before going back to the main story.
This was actually done in Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel, where your choice determined the outcome. There were other minor choices in the game as well, again ultimately of no consequence to how the game played out, but at least there were different scenes to be seen.