I was still warm in the afterglow of the awesome iOS game ‘Letters from Nowhere’ from G5 Games when I started another hidden object game from them called Spirit of Wandering. Given the innovative style of the former game, I really didn’t expect Spirit of Wandering – a stock standard hidden object adventure – to live up. If you read my review of the iPad version you know the results were mixed. Now the game has launched on the Mac, so let’s take a look!
Sail the seas with a pirate captain in search of her missing love in this adventurous, hidden-object quest! After an attack by the Flying Dutchman, the crew of the Spirit of Wandering and captain’s companion, Jack, were imprisoned in the spirit world. Use powerful tools such as the Crystal Orb, a trusty compass and the help of fellow prisoners to find hidden objects that are drifting between the two worlds. Remove the lingering curse and save those stuck in the spirit world!
6 Gorgeous settings
24 Challenging locations
Over 450 hidden objects
90 cherished items to discover
Since Spirit of Wandering is a direct port of the iOS version released in January, this review will reiterate much of what was noted for that version. I will comment on specifics as I go along, and then finally comment on the port itself at the end.
The Spirit of Wandering is a pirate ship headed on an adventure with the captain (our hero) and her love Jack at the helm … but then the ship is attacked by the Flying Dutchman (yes, THAT one). All the crew is lost and our captain is left stranded and alone, and sets out to find her Jack – but knows she will need all the help she can get and so sets forth to find the rest of the crew first.
The story itself sets up a ‘person per area’ quest feel to the game which lends itself well to the structure of a hidden object game. The game is divided into six ‘chapters’, one per character, and is subdivided according to finding three or four critical items that need to be combined to bring back the spirit of the character at the center of the chapter.
There are 24 locations as mentioned, with all of them encompassing typical port locations: on shore, docks, on ship, and under water. The image quality is very high throughout, though some areas are really gorgeous while others are fairly mundane and look like the same screen you’ve seen a million times before in similar games. Even within the game you are constantly seeing the same room for an entire location, and there are several that feel like they are very similar but slightly tweaked from another location.
There are three ‘hidden object’ elements to the game: the core game consists of finding between 5-7 objects, then finding a ‘cherished item’ … which then allows you to find the next set of 5-7 objects. When you have found all 5 cherished objects for that location, you unlock one of the critical character items … and then move to the next item in a similar location and repeat the process.
Once you have found all of the critical items, the character swirls into view and you are rewarded with their story … and a ‘treasure round’. This is critical to the game, as I will explain in a second. After maximizing your gold you return to the core game and the next character to unlock.
The gameplay mechanics of finding items has two elements: standard items and ‘cherished’ items. Each area has you looking for a number of ‘standard’ items, which are shown as outlines in the lower right corner. Your task is to find the item that will fit into each outline – but beware that the item might need to be rotated to fit! So while you might have something simple like a spear or set of keys, a whetstone improperly rotated might look entirely different.
Expect to spend most of your time chasing these sorts of issues: the actual part looks nothing like the outline due to rotation; the object is partially obscured so you can’t see the entire thing; or it blends so well that it is really difficult to see. It can be really frustrating at times but you will sometimes find yourself unable to use a hint for reasons I’ll mention later.
Once you find all of the standard items, a glowing orb illuminates in the lower left corner. You drag this mystical eyepiece onto the screen and it helps point the way towards the cherished item in the spirit world. When the ring illuminates on the edges you know are close – and when it shows a fiery edge you are right on top of the item! The item phases in and out of view so it can be tricky to see, but with patience and perseverance you can find them all. This was easily my favorite part of the game.
Spirit of Wandering offers the usual achievements, Game Center tie-in, Facebook tie-in and per-chapter reminder to rate the game on the App Store. You are definitely praised for doing things correctly and quickly in the game … but there is also a punishment for struggling.
Whereas some games have hint-timers and points and so on … in Spirit of Wandering everything is related to gold. Finding all objects gives you 10 gold, the same as finding a cherished object, and then there are the ‘gold rush’ levels where you tap like a mad-person trying to accumulate as much gold as possible in the time alloted. You do all of this because the punishments are in gold as well.
On one screen you are supposed to find a ladle … but there are FIVE! Three wood and two metal, but all of a shape that just might work for the shape. But if you try to just tap on all three in succession you will find yourself penalized in gold – the game discourages random taps by taking your gold. And if you need a hint … that will cost you 50 gold! That is the combined amount you get for all cherished items! If you need more than a few hints over the course of a character you will find yourself in dire need of gold and perhaps unable to seek more hints.
What is missing in Spirit of Wandering? Puzzles, combinations, and anything else that twists the gameplay and challenges you to think. The game is just a strict repetition of ‘find standard’, ‘find cherished’, repeat 5 times, go to gold level, repeat 6 times until credits roll. At this point I really expect a game to offer a bit more, even at the lower price point asked for this compared to games like Letters from Nowhere.
In terms of the Mac port, everything came across very well – the graphics look great either windowed or full screen, the controls are very precise and easy to use, and the game loads quickly and never crashed on me once.
I would also have been more satisfied if I liked the core gameplay mechanic more. Somewhere between the repetition, the frustration of similar looking parts and the punishment by gold, I actually put the game aside for a couple of days and wondered if I would finish. Since I hold myself to a strict standard of finishing anything I review, you can tell that I pushed through. And actually the last couple of chapters were more enjoyable – the story and lore came together, the design of the levels were the best of the game, and the feel was might lighter and less punitive than some earlier sections. I was suddenly swimming in gold and having fun.
Spirit of Wandering is not my favorite hidden object game – not even in my top 5, to be honest. I would recommend games like Letters from Nowhere, the Treasure Seekers and Mystery of the Crystal Portal games, and Special Enquiry Detail for fans of the genre. But if you have already played all of those (and you should), the free demo mode is a great way to check out the early parts of the game and see if it is for you.
Here is the trailer for Spirit of Wandering – the Legend:
Review: Spirit of Wandering – the Legend
Where to Buy:
Price: $6.99 (available)
What I Like: Solid story; interesting twist for finding cherished items; some levels are beautifully designed
What Needs Improvement: Repetitive gameplay; punitive gold system; lack of variety in some areas; similar looking items make finding them annoying
Source: Publisher provided review code