Review Date: March 11, 2010
Developer: Triple Hippo Studios
Publisher: Triple Hippo Studios
Genre: Hidden Object
There's something to be said for a game that doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but instead polishes it to a fine sheen. The Tarot's Misfortune is such a game. While it doesn't do anything new with the well-worn hidden object game formula, what it does it does so well that it's easy to overlook the lack of innovation.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The game tells the tale of Rosalee, who is, naturally, a tarot card reader. After doing a late-night reading for a mysterious man, she ends up locked-up in a prison with little memory of what happened. The rest of the game is spent trying to stop the man and save Rosalee's small town. The story isn't particularly deep, and is told via the occasional infrequent cut-scene. Sticking with the titular theme, in-between each of the game's 12 chapters Rosalee will do a card reading, giving hints at what she can expect next in her journey.
But you won't be spending much of your time wrapped in the game's narrative, instead the majority of the game will be spent finding objects. You're given a list of what you need to find and there's a recharging hint system in case you get stuck. You can also move in-between different areas in the game (provided you've unlocked them) at any time, which is great if you want to leave a particularly difficult section and come back to it later. You'll also be using some of your found objects to solve puzzles. Sometimes it's as simple as finding a key to open a door, while other times you'll have to brew up a magic potion to destroy a plant that's blocking your way or repair a bridge so you can go across it.
Look A Little Deeper
One of the more unique aspects of the gameplay is that the different areas in The Tarot's Misfortune feature multiple layers of depth. This means that as you shift the scene from side to side, the foreground and background move independently. Since many objects are hidden behind the foreground, this means that you'll have to constantly shift your perspective in order to find everything. There are also certain objects that can't be found until you've already acquired certain items, which means you'll have to do quite a bit of backtracking throughout the game. Thankfully, navigating the different areas is very simple, and the game even provides a map in case you get lost.
You'll also frequently find special tarot cards, which take you to a "spot the difference" style mini-game. Here you'll have to find five differences between the two cards presented, at which point the game will give you a hint as to what to do next. But aside from the game's final confrontation, there's nothing else in the way of mini-games to break up the object finding action.
Without a doubt the most striking aspect of The Tarot's Misfortune is the game's absolutely gorgeous art design. The colorful, stylized visuals have a hand-painted look to them. There are also some subtle effects, like a drifting fog or translucent balloons, that both make the game look even better and add a touch of extra challenge to the gameplay. The only time the visuals falter is in the final area of the game, which features some ill-advised and awkward looking character animations.
The Bottom Line
After completing the game, the only real complaint is that there just isn't enough of it. Though it features 12 different chapters, the entire experience can be completed fairly easily in around three hours. But it sure is great while it lasts. This is one of the best looking hidden object games around, and it strikes an excellent balance between being challenging while still maintaining the ever important casual appeal.