Hidden object adventures continue to evolve on smartphones and tablets, with PC games being ported that are more complex, more interesting and have better stories. The success of games from folks like G5 Entertainment has resulted in an explosion in the category. The latest one to try to capture the Kindle Fire gamer’s interest is the Magician’s Handbook, which I already reviewed for the iPad. Let’s see how it does!
Remove the evil curse in this captivating adventure by finding hidden objects in the dark and mysterious Cursed Valley! The fabled “Magician’s Handbook” has fallen into your hands. You are beckoned to a dark and desolate place whose true name has long been forgotten. Search beautiful, hand-painted backgrounds for cleverly- hidden enchanted objects. Use special incantations to slowly reveal the pages of the sacred book.Lift the curse from the haunted valley to discover its true name in this brain-bending, hidden object adventure with unlimited replay ability!
● 13 Enchanted levels to explore
● Unlimited replay ability
● 2 Gameplay modes: casual and apprentice
● 12 Challenging mini-games
● Exciting secret items to unlock
● Gorgeous hand-painted Backgrounds
In my iPad review of The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley I praised the variety of challenges and near-perfect balance throughout nearly the entire game, but found the end sequence out of proportion with the rest of the game and felt the ‘old school’ lack of a deep story diminished the experience compared to top games of the genre such as ‘Letters from Nowhere’. This game is a Kindle Fire port of the identical game, so most of the review is the same, until I look at specific details related to the Kindle Fire.
There are several kep elements to a hidden object adventure: the story, the object searches, and the puzzles. Of course, the way these are presented in terms of graphics and music also can add (or detract) from the experience, as well as achievements, social integration and more! So let’s dig right in!
The story of The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley is pretty basic, but at least takes an off-kilter approach. You are a normal person bored with his life, and decide after watching a late night infomercial to take the plunge for $19.99 and buy ‘The Magician’s Handbook’. Once you open the book you are transported to a Cursed Valley where you must train as a wizard in order to remove the curse and free the people of the valley. And … that is pretty much it – after playing games like ‘Special Enquiry Detail’ and ‘Letters from Nowhere’ it is definitely thin, but it remains fun as I’ll explain.
Each ‘chapter’ in the book consists of learning a new spell. You are given a cool description of what the spell involves and why it is important to your quest. Learning the spell involves two parts: finding items and solving puzzles.
The hidden object portion is pretty standard yet quite challenging. There are a dozen total locations in the valley you will encounter throughout the game, with each spell requiring between two and five locations containing ten or more items. Once you have found the required items you can move on to create the spell or continue until you have found everything.
Finding items can be reasonably challenging – even after you’ve visited the same location in more than a half-dozen chapters! There are obvious items, items that blend into the background, things only partially exposed, and items obscured in the shadows. To help you along you have two tools: a hint system that slowly refills, and also a spell that will help remove distractions. Throughout each area there are objects scattered everywhere, some that belong and others that stand out – you might have an umbrella on a railing, or a piece of pie in a fountain. The trick is to find everything – and if you are playing on the harder difficulty you need to do it in time.
Playing on the Kindle Fire adds to the challenge. Whereas on the iPad you could view an entire area at once and only worry about panning around that screen, with the Fire you will need to zoom in and scan around to find items – so when things are obscured it is even more challenging.
After you have found all objects in the area (or at least enough to learn the spell) you move on to learning the spell. This involves completing one of four mini-games such as a word search or match three, after which you are ready to move on to the next area. Some spells are immediately beneficial – such as one that illuminates an area which is helpful when searching a dark dungeon.
Once you have completed learning all spells you are tasked with finding the hidden tablets and completing the final tests to remove the curse from the valley. Surprisingly I got really stuck finding the last tablet for quite a while since there is no help available, but eventually got through and completed the game.
I say it is surprising because one thing I loved about the game was the near-perfect balance. I was always challenged but never frustrated, and the way the game slowly ramped the challenge worked well for me.
Aside from the inherent challenges added using a smaller screen, I never ran into an issue with playing on the Kindle Fire. Installation was fairly quick, load times were reasonable, and performance was solid throughout. The only thing of concern for Kindle Fire users is the app size of >80MB. Since we only get 1GB of total app space, it is definitely a concern. But fortunately it is quick and easy to uninstall and reinstall apps from the Amazon Appstore!
Overall The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley is a fun game that will give you several hours of hidden-object challenges. I did find it a bit ‘old school’ in how the story was less involved than many new games in the genre, but it made up with loads of lore about the spells you were learning and about the location. In that way it provided a great diversion and was solid fun throughout. If you are a fan of the genre definitely check it out!
Here is the trailer for The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley:
Review: The Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Price: $4.99 (there is a free demo here)
What I Like: Perfectly balanced; solid challenges; revisiting same areas never got boring
What Needs Improvement: Relatively weak story compared to recent games; relatively large for a Kindle Fire app.
Source: Publisher provided review code