Azada tells the story of a great-uncle trapped in a magic book, with the player breaking the spells binding by solving puzzles inscribed on magic pages that have been scattered about his study. Each page is one of about twenty puzzle types, all familiar to those who have played puzzle games in the past. In all, there are one hundred "pages", each from one of the puzzle types.
Azada really stands out amongst its competitors. It provides more puzzles of greater complexity than any other game I've encountered in its price range. None of the puzzles are terribly unique, and most, if not all, can be found elsewhere. As to difficulty, the puzzles are easier than many other games specializing in them, but they do get harder,and the variety ensures that everyone will be challenged a good portion of the time (I, for example, can't do Simon puzzles to save my life). However, each of the better versions of the puzzles are in games in which those puzzles are the sole offering. For example, the Mystery Case Files games have better hunt puzzles, but no line-and-box or mastermind puzzles.
This brings to my favorite puzzle in Azada: its unique take on the hunt puzzle. Typically, as in the MCF series, one is given a list of items with no real relation to the story, each other, or, in some cases, what the item is actually called. In Azada, there are pictures of a few items, each of which is then used with other items both in the inventory or in the screen to solve a set of logic puzzles. These are not Rube Goldberg-esque problems, but actually make a practical sense (like replacing fuses in a workshop). While I would probably be happy with a game full of these, having just a few during each sequence avoids burning me out on them.
However, this leads to a problem when it comes to replayability. While most of the puzzles are randomized or designed such that replay is feasible, these logic puzzle/item hunt sequences remain the same. This is unfortunate, because second and third games are just as enjoyable as the first, except for this one element.
Two other problems lie in the story and graphics. This game has the potential to have an excellent and involving story of a man trapped in a book. Such things have been done beautifully by everyone from Jorge Luis Borges to Futurama to D&D games. This is not the case here. Pressing "skip" won't cause you to miss anything. Another issue, related to this, is the graphics. While the static images are well-done, and even very attractive and interesting, once ANY animation sets in, one realizes how static the entire game is. To put it bluntly, moving sparkles and a few fades do not draw positive attention to anyone's graphics, and here, they detract from it.
The sound, on the other hand, is quite good. The cues given in response to the player's actions are clear and intuitive and the music, while sounding a bit like the lesser Harry Potter films, is fully orchestral and adds a bit to the ambiance.
Fundamentally, I'd say that Azada is an excellent game to pick up and play, both for adults and children. Because of the variety, it easily lends itself to the "just one more turn" syndrome.
Pros• Large variety of puzzles
• The puzzles are fun and engaging
• The static images are beautiful to look at
Cons• The animation is poorly done and doesn't mix well with the static images
• The puzzles aren't as complex as those in games devoted to one puzzle type