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Publisher: PlayFirst    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Graphics: 800x600

Nightshift Legacy: The Jaguar's Eye
March 24, 2009 | Michael Scarpelli

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The comic-book format for the story is very effective.

The Levels
Each of the levels in Nightshift is pretty dense with objects, which is good because youíll be visiting each of them a bunch. The environments themselves are well-rendered and the objects inside them are fairly well done as well. There is still a bit of blockiness and blurriness on the smallest items, but this appears to be a sort of standard for this genre of game. Still, though, at times it is frustrating to learn that the object youíve been asked to locate is hard to find not because itís well hidden, but because itís poorly formed (or partially off-screen, as happens with a few items).

The strongest point for the levels are some of the sort of unique level variants. The Mayan Codex level is great. It has an authentic look, all while maintaining the gameís level of challenge for finding objects. The hand-sketched level is another that both looks great, and makes for a challenging piece of gaming. Using a magnifying glass to hunt through an old city map and box of antiquities and heirlooms make for some very challenging levels. Despite what you may think, you might need to actually use that glass to spot everything in those levels.

The ending stages for each level involves a ďscavenger huntĒ that asks the gamer to find objects scattered across each of the three locations that comprised that level. Having to hunt through various locations, using your memory to try and gauge where the hidden objects are located, is a pretty gnarly bit of challenge as well.

The close out each level, youíll be presented with one of a couple of mini-games. All fun in their own right. Thereís a couple sorts of word scramble, a unique picture jigsaw puzzle (that uses layers of depth as part of the puzzle), a logic puzzle and a lock-pick puzzle that involves constructing the proper key to open a lock. These puzzles are a nice break from the standard searches and are engaging and varied enough without being too difficult to make for a really fun diversion.

The Difficulty
Nightshift is not terribly hard. The hidden object levels are not punishing, and the end of level mini-games are all pretty doable. ButÖ itís also not super short. An easy game without much content is not a good deal. A middling-difficulty game that presents a rich story and a lot of contentÖ well thatís a solid deal.

You may recall that my gripe with Hidden Mysteries: Buckingham Palace was something that could be finished in about two and a half hours, and the demo is an hour long. That means you are paying $20 for a 90 minute game. No good. Nightshift will take you about 6-8 hours (maybe longer) depending on how aggressive you are with the game and how skilled you are with hidden object titles. This makes a $20 price tag infinitely more palatable. Replay value of course just depends on how much you want to find different hidden items, as thatís the only real incentive to go back through the game.

Part of what keeps the game from being something you can blaze through is that the hints are not plentiful. They are doled out in a time-based system, that I like. Itís flexible, will keep you from getting stuck forever on a single item and will prevent the player from just speeding through everything with tons of hints. You are given three hints for a level, and these hints will simply highlight a space on the screen an object is located in (if there are multiple objects it is random which one will be highlighted).

The Bottom Line
I really liked Nightshift Legacy: Jaguarís Eye. It had an interesting story, likable characters, well-integrated gameplay, challenging levels and fun mini games. It was long enough to be satisfying and easy enough to be playable. There are far worse ways to spend your gaming money. This one ranks up there with Mystery Case Files for me, which is pretty high praise.

• Well-rendered levels
• Good storyline
• Fun mini-games

• Some of the gameís length comes from just revisiting locations over and over
• Objects can be hard to find due to obscurity at times

Nightshift Legacy: The Jaguar's Eye
Publisher: PlayFirst
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