Almost two years ago I did a review of the 2003 PC game called ‘XIII’, which took a French intrigue-filled graphic novel and brought it to life in a unique graphical style. Late last year the game made the jump to the iOS platform as a hidden object adventure. Let’s see how it did!
Imagine waking up to discover you’ve led several different lives.
Based on the comic book series by Jean Van Hamme and William Vance.
A man suffering from amnesia is found washed up on a beach by an elderly couple. He has to unravel who he is and where he has come from, the only clue to his identity being the numerals “XIII” tattooed on his neck.
You are XIII, a man with a host of enemies and who faces danger at every turn as he goes in search of his past.
Pursued by mysterious strangers and wanted for the assassination of the President of the United States of America, his life becomes a whirl of conspiracy and intrigue.
Pay close attention to everything around you, because it will no doubt be your only chance to piece together XIII’s enigmatic past.
Use your inventory to escape from the most hazardous of situations.
Are you ready for an adventure unfolding at breakneck speed?
Superb, realistic animated scenes adapted from the comic book series itself
Simple and intuitive gameplay
An interactive inventory
A range of mini games: Puzzles, Match 3, Sliding Blocks etc
Compatible Game Center
Since replaying and reviewing the PC game (and having read the graphic novel between getting the game in 2003 and the last play in 2010), I have also seen the 2008 TV mini-series featuring Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff (interestingly it is Kilmer on the cover despite being a relatively minor character). What I discovered was that the shooter game was the loosest interpretation of the story, so I was intrigued at how this adventure would play out.
You start with a page-by-page style introduction featuring panels that spring to life showing the events as President Sheriden is assassinated and leading up to the discovery of XIII by the kindly older couple who has lost their own child to war. You work to figure out who you are, what is going on and also how you possess such talents for violence and espionage.
The gameplay is a strictly linear hidden object game with some occasional puzzles to mix things up. By ‘linear’ I mean that the game almost always presents you with an item to find and you must find that item before you are told the next item on the list, and so on. There are times on each screen when you get a few items that stack up so you can find them in any order, but way too often you are stuck with a single item on the screen to find. And the way it happens, it isn’t fun but frustrating.
If you get stuck there is a hint system that can have up to 6 hints, with a timer that has to elapse before you can use another hint. So if you are just ‘done’ with an area and want to burn hints to get out, you can’t do it. You can regain hints by finding stars that appear momentarily on screen on each screen, which means that you will seldom fall below 4 or 5 hints. But if you do there are some mini-games that let you gain more hints as well.
The mini-games and puzzles are very much a mixed bag. There are timed elements where you will need to shoot the target pursuing you and logic puzzles like figuring out codes. Neither provides much challenge, but at least break things up.
I did like that some items were not random finds but actually key items you kept with you to use later on in the game, but that did little to offset some of the more egregious object hunts. The worst of these is when you needed to find your safe deposit box, and the game made you step through about twenty other numbers before finally getting to your own location – yes, you REALLY had to just tap on box 221, 508, 770, and so on in a sequence that probably took nearly five minutes of sheer tedium.
The bottom line is that the game felt like it had been designed as an after-thought. The designers wanted to present the story, and then wrapped it around some hidden object elements and puzzles half-heartedly. Having come off such excellent games as G5’s ‘Letters from Nowhere’ to replay and finish this, only further reminds me of how many better hidden object games are available.
The story remains excellent and intriguing, and if you are interested in the story this is not a bad way to experience it … but if not, just watch for it to hit $0.99 again and then snap it up for a bit of fun.
Review: XIII Lost Identity
Where to Buy: iTunes App Store for the iPhone and iPad
Price: $2.99 iPhone / $4.99 iPad
What I Like: Excellent espionage story; well-developed characters; great voice acting and cutscenes;
What Needs Improvement: Sub-par hidden object game; frustrating hint system waits too long; overall mundane feel to the gameplay.
Source: Personal purchase