Sometimes a title tells you all you need to know about a game – in the case of G5’s Alchemy Mysteries: Prague Legends, we know it is a casual game because of G5, that it is a mystery involving alchemy, that it looks back into history and that it takes place in Prague. We quickly also learn that the game centers around an orphan named Eva who returns to Prague to claim an inheritance and hopefully learn more about her past and her real family. But just after entering the house strange and mysterious things occur! Let’s take a look!
Type of app: Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure (HOPA) Game
Platform/where to buy: iPad (iPhone version here); available in the iTunes App Store
Developer: JetDogs Studios / G5 Entertainment
42 enigmatic levels to play through
24 mesmerizing mini-games
15 inspiring achievements to earn
Two difficulty levels: casual, advanced
Game Center Support
New iPad Retina Display Support
iPhone 5 support
Major features: With many hidden object games, it seems like a limp framework of a story is draped over a standard set of gameplay mechanics, with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ games generally hinging on how well the mechanics play out. In fact, I have enjoyed drab stories with great mechanics quite often, but have always found that poor mechanics means a lousy game.
Until now. With Alchemy Mysteries, we have a game with some clunky mechanics, but an oddly engaging story that draws you in and makes up for the oddities in presentation and performance.
Pretty much everything in the game is standard genre fare, with hidden object areas and puzzles. The issues were with the implementation. There are inconsistencies in the graphical feedback system, with some items sparkling when interaction isn’t possible while others don’t sparkle when you CAN interact – this leads to extra tapping around.
Also, when you try something that doesn’t work you get no feedback or suggestion: it just doesn’t work. You can think you have the right tool, so perhaps you aren’t hitting the right area or something. There is no way to know. These inconsistencies thread throughout the game, making it too often a confusing experience that has you questioning whether it is you or the game that is the cause of getting stuck.
Another point of confusion is the lack of distinction between single-use and multi-use items. In many hidden object games an item is gone when you use it – sometimes it makes sense (like a plant used in a potion), other times not (scissors). I have gotten used to this in more recent games, but in Alchemy Mysteries I got stumped until I realized that one piece of paper held multiple clues – and I came across it by pure luck while perusing the journal for other things!
The 3D panning view is a great addition, as it the explorable world. The way the developers laid things out and implemented the movement system makes it feel more like a traditional adventure game. Even though you are simply sliding from place to place, the impression is more immersive.
That immersion helps carry the story – as noted you are trying to find your past and at the same time discovering things about yourself and your family you never knew. It is not obvious what is happening, and exploring and letting the plot unfold is a load of fun.
Ease of use/Overall performance: If you are familiar with the hidden object genre you will have no problem getting going with Alchemy Mysteries. It is a fairly standard genre game, with hidden object scenes, objects in rooms, puzzles, and so on. The only difference is the use of a fully 3D space, meaning that within a room you can turn left and right to interact.
Would use again/recommend?: Definitely! As I said, the mechanics are not the best butthe story is very well done and the overall experience is solid and worth playing.
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: Nothing
Source: Publisher provided review code
Price: $6.99 (iPhone version is $4.99)
Here is the trailer: