Review Date: October 31, 2010
Developer: Elephant Games
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Genre: Hidden Object
A creepy mansion. Missing celebrities. Bizarre creatures. Mystery Trackers: The Void has it all. Developed by Elephant Games, this hidden object game blends some creative mini-games and beautiful visuals with a unique and compelling story. With a helpful hint system it may be a little too easy for some, but Mystery Trackers is definitely worth further investigation for genre fans.
Enter The Void
You play as an unnamed detective who's part of a mysterious group known as the Mystery Trackers. As their name implies, this group does one thing, and one thing only: track mysteries. In The Void, the mystery revolves around a century old mansion, home to Dr. Malleus Void. Not only do people believe the doctor created all manner of bizarre experiments while in the mansion, but three prominent celebrities have also gone missing there: a writer, a magician, and an actress. It's your job to find out just what happened.
There's very little dialog in the game, due mainly to the fact that you'll encounter only a few characters along the way. And these are mostly just the disturbing creations of Dr. Void. So instead, most of the story is told through journal entries, which you'll find scattered throughout the game. This means that there's quite a bit of reading involved if you want to delve deep into the story, but it also means that if you want to skip the narrative and simply focus on the gameplay, you can.
The game itself is a mixture of a hidden object game and a point and click adventure. You'll be exploring the mansion from a first person perspective, scouring the environment for clues and usable items. Frequently you'll come across HOG scenes, which task you with finding a dozen or more objects amongst a slew of other objects. Once complete, you'll be able to keep one of the found objects, which will be used later on. The HOG scenes are relatively easy, thanks in part to the hint system, which is both very helpful and recharges rather quickly.
A Mystery Wrapped In A Riddle
Aside from the HOG scenes, you'll also need to figure out how to use the items in your inventory to proceed. Most of the time the answer is fairly obvious--i.e., if you have a key chances are there's a lock somewhere that needs to be opened--and, again, the hint system does a great job of pointing you in the right direction. Even if you don't take advantage of the hints, though, the game still helps you along by subtly highlighting areas of importance. And if you attempt to leave an area before everything is complete, the game will suggest that you investigate a little further.
There's also a rather large assortment of mini-games to complete. These run the gamut from traditional HOG games like sliding block puzzles or putting together torn up pieces of paper, to much more creative and imaginative ones. You'll be picking locks and wiring electrical devices. Unlike the rest of the game, these mini-games can actually be fairly challenging. However, you do have the option to skip any of them if you wait a minute or two.
Mystery Trackers is also one of the better looking HOGs out there. The environments are varied and incredibly detailed, and you'll come across strange creatures like a gigantic troll or a terrifying talking teddy bear. But there are also a number of first person sequences that really help immerse you in the game. You'll witness a fast paced car chase first hand and be able to take in the view as you travel upwards in a tram. The level of polish on display is very impressibve.
The Bottom Line
While it can be a bit easy at times and the story is a little heavy on reading, Mystery Trackers is still definitely worth playing. It's packed full of challenging mini-games and plenty of objects to find, not to mention an interesting story and unique world to explore. It also ends on a fittingly mysterious note, that suggests there just might be some more mystery tracking in our future as well.