|Publisher: PlayFirst Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz Hard Disk: 45 MB Graphics: 800x600|
Introduction"Hey- you got your point-and-click adventure in my hidden-object game!"
"You got YOUR hidden objects in my adventure game!"
Okay, I realize that I've just dated myself with that reference to a 1970's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial. For those too young to recall it, it showed two people colliding, one holding a jar of peanut butter, the other with a bar of chocolate. Then they accused each other of polluting their treat. Of course, this soon led to the groundbreaking discovery that peanut butter and chocolate taste great together.
PlayFirst has attempted a similar feat with their game Dream Chronicles 2. They have added elements of classic point-and-click adventure games to hidden object games that are currently popular. Have they succeeded in making a crossover that will appeal to the fans of either type of game, or will one side (or both) complain that their favorite treat has been ruined?
First, a word about target audience. When reading reviews of casual games like this one, keep in mind that the reviewer is usually not representative of the target audience. It's rare to find a purely casual gamer who is also a game reviewer, any more than you'd expect a sports novice to do play-by-play coverage. I try to be clear in this review where my "hardcore gamer" prejudices come into play.
GameplayDream Chronicles 2's gameplay mostly involves visiting a series of locations, and clicking on objects you find there. You can then use the objects or combine them to build things, say a broken toy wagon or a piece of machinery. There are also some sequence memorization puzzles (similar to the musical game Simon) and some "click buttons in the right order" puzzles. Solving a scene unlocks the next puzzle or advances the player to the next location.
For most of these puzzles, you will spend a lot of time looking for hidden objects. The pieces needed for most puzzles are scattered around the screen, and in the later levels the pieces are smaller and harder to find. The pieces may even show up in areas that you recently passed, requiring you to backtrack to a previous scene.
Unlike many adventure games, where part of the puzzle is to explore and figure out what to do next, Dream Chronicles 2 does not leave you guessing. The puzzles are solved in a particular order, and the steps for most puzzles are explained to you by the narrator, or by an invisible fairy companion (more on that later!) This constant hand-holding was annoying to me, but clearly the target audience here is casual gamers.
The only way to lose Dream Chronicles is to give up. You cannot make a bad decision and "die", nor can you destroy an item by using it incorrectly. In fact, objects you need will always be found nearby, and will all get used up before you proceed to the next section of the game. It's a bit odd to have a hammer disappear after you use it on the one item that needs hammering, but it certainly simplifies things for the player.