Currently I'm enjoying the latest game in the Dark Parables series, Goldilocks and the Fallen Star.
If you don't already know this hidden object game series, it features storylines inspired by fairytales. Early games more strongly followed the classic stories but later games were more interested in plot and mystery and exciting events.
There are two key traits that set this series apart to make it one of the BEST hidden object games out there today.
Gameplay is not sloppy
Yes, this is important! If you've ever been frustrated and stuck only to discover the solution really doesn't make sense, then you've experienced it. For example, one solution in Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show involves using a carpenter's saw to cut metal screws off. Really? They couldn't even give you a proper saw for cutting metal.
Other more common signs of sloppy production involve items in hidden object scenes that are named incorrectly; and having more than one type of item in a scene that is valid but only one that is clickable -- and then they penalize you for clicking the "wrong" one.
So far I haven't experience such in this series, and that's a great sign of quality control. Plus it won't jar you out of your gameplay while immersed in the plot.
A very interesting concept for standalone casual games is a strong sense of continuity. Characters from previous games do make appearances, and when it happens in a story-relevant way, it is very fulfilling and doesn't feel like a deus ex machina -- it provides a strong feeling of reward for having played through the previous games.
Here is an example from Dark Parables 4, where someone you helped three episodes back comes to save your ass.
The game doesn't shy away from there being exciting crises and actual combat. As the protagonist you are really a non-combatant, so they've woven it into the storylines in a very good way that doesn't require you to be actually on the front lines so much, or in such a way that it involves solving a puzzle.
Hidden Object Games are not combat games and games of this genre often handicap themselves by not being able to have it in the story -- resulting in often very passive stories. The Dark Parables series has a workaround and they get better with this aspect in later games, resulting in an uncover-the-mystery gameplay experience that feels more exciting.
Of course the Collector's Edition has all sorts of extra that many hidden object games have nowadays to provide value and replayability, such as the ability to replay hidden object scenes, awarding trophies for excellent gameplay, and bonus stories to uncover more of the background or give you a prequel or sequel to the main quest.
However, the qualities I mentioned really set this series apart and make it very worthwhile to play them from the very beginning. If you are unsure where to start with hidden object games, you can't go wrong with this series.
And fortunately, even the first game has excellent artwork, so you won't feel like you have to suffer through a primitive hidden object game compared to what's contemporary.
Obviously ten games is a lot to commit to, so there are a couple of things you can do:
- Don't buy the regular version! Instead, play the trial version available on Big Fish Games.
- Always get the Collector's Edition. You'll regret missing the extra stories later and probably end up spending more to access them.
- Don't buy any Strategy Guides to help you when you are stuck. They are in the Collector's Edition and in any case you can find them online and even on the Big Fish Games website.
- Watch for special offers. Big Fish Games just had a fantastic 4th of July special which we announced on our website. If you are tight on cash, wait for these and in the meantime play the trial versions.
Now click one of the pictures on the right to access the free trial of one of these excellent hidden object games now! We've linked to the PC games, but they are available also for handhelds (such as android, iPad, and iPhones) so you can take the game with you wherever you go and savour at your leisure.