|Publisher: PlayFirst Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz Hard Disk: 50 MB Graphics: 800x600
ďWith the plethora of games out there to play, which one is what Iím looking for?Ē This is the problem faced by many gamers on a daily basis. Maybe the last game you played was a heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, graphics card pushing, first person shooter with enough violence to give Ted Bundy nightmares, what could possibly top that? More than likely, not much, except maybe the sequel to Mass Murder, Gore, and More 4. So as your eye scans the list of demos available for you to try, it catches The Nightshift Code. You click to check out the screen shots, and realize that itís only one of those hidden picture games. Your mouse start heading toward the back button on your browser. But hang on there Master of Digital Mayhem! Maybe what you need is something to sharpen a different reflex, not just your trigger finger. Some puzzles to work the analytical part of your brain? Perhaps word-to-picture association? Then go ahead and use your trigger finger one more time, download and give The Nightshift Code a try!
GameplayPlayFirst, Inc. has had some experience making hidden picture games, with at least half a dozen released, so it came as no surprise when I started up The Nightshift Code to find a well animated cut-scene and main menu. You have the choice of playing the story game, where you follow the main characters and story, or the arcade game, where you have the rooms with objects to find and no story. If you decide to start the story game you get a story with a real plot and characters to follow and learn about as you find objects in a wide variety of rooms and search areas. Just to make it interesting, the game gives you the name of an object, for example ďTapeĒ and it tells you there are five of these in the room. But what kind of tape are we talking about? That and other little twists in the game create more of a challenge for the player. You are scored on how quickly you can find everything in the room; the longer you take, the less points you get. When you find an object, you get a few points back. Itís a pretty basic idea that becomes highly addictive.
To have a basic hidden picture game where all you do is, well, find the hidden pictures, can get very boring. As mentioned above, PlayFirst has had some experience in creating these types of games, and they learned that basic lesson. Within the game are six puzzle mini-games, all of which must be completed to progress with the story. While they are all different, none of them are so difficult as to be discouraging; for most kids, these puzzles should be just about perfect and would require little to no adult help. Not to say that they were not fun, just ever so slightly basic.
PlayFirst did add a few variations to the object searches, including a dark room search with a flashlight, searching a map and a stamp collection with a magnifying glass, and even having to jump from room to room to complete a list of items to search for. Out of those three features, the jumping from room to room was my favorite, since you are not sure what is in what room until you've found all of the objects. Refreshingly, this added a tad more realism that I was expecting.
GraphicsThe Nightshift Code does not require stunning graphics and wonderful 3-D rendered cut-scenes to be engaging and entertaining. The still frame, graphic novel-style story line was perfect in telling the story without being overly flashy, any full motion sequences would have felt out of place in a game of still photos and minimal animation games. System requirements are relatively low, 800MHz G4 or better, which was fortunate for my similarly equipped iBook. Even running at the minimum requirements, The Nightshift Code worked perfectly, with the only noticeable slowdown being the loading times.
That being said, the resolution could have been a bit higher for the sake of trying to find objects. Some objects didnít exactly look as they should due to being a bit fuzzy. Many times I would accidentally click on something that I didnít know was there because it was just pixelated enough to be indistinguishable from the surrounding objects. The numbers of a clock on the wall were hardly readable, a label on a can sitting very close to the edge of the screen and should be very much in focus, wasnít, etc. That is, as far as I can tell, my only gripe.
After you do find an object and click on it, it is highlighted and enlarged from the rest of the rest of the scene with a nice halo effect and pleasant correct sound.