Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Awakening 1&2: The Dreamless Castle & Moonfell Wood (Game review)

Review By ComiKate

The Dreamless Castle & Moonfell Wood are the first and second parts of the now three-part Awakening series, by Big Fish Games.

The Awakening series belongs to the Hidden Object game genre, which means that at least part of your time is spent looking for, well, hidden objects. Other recurring elements are puzzles and searching beautiful locations for certain clues. In this type of game there is no time constraint, you cannot die, nor is there a multi player mode. Instead, it is all about a fun, relaxed entertainment experience.

In short, the target audience is probably more of a casual gamer, or gamers who cannot or will not spend days and days immersed in one game and like to finish what they start in one afternoon or evening. Also, gamers who don’t want to spend a lot of money, or gamers who like to play lots of different games, or simply don’t know how RPGs, MMOs and first person shooters work and don’t care (or dare) to learn.

Within the Hidden Object game genre, Awakening can be considered a hidden object adventure.

In the first part of the series, The Dreamless Castle, you are Sophia, a young woman who wakes up after a long, long sleep to find herself alone inside a castle in a world devoid of people. With the help of clues, mysteriously hidden objects and an occasional goblin she has to find her way out of the castle.

Although the game clearly references the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, it does not follow that plot in any way. Yes, there is a sleeping beauty at the very beginning, but she wakes up, and not because some knight in shining armor came to give her a kiss of life! In that sense I guess The Dreamless Castle could be considered “an alternative ending” to the traditional fairytale, which I have to say has been done very well and has kept me interested throughout the game.

Part two, Moonfell Wood, is a separate game, that starts where The Dreamless Castle left off: you are still the very resourceful Sophia, you have just escaped the castle and you are now about to embark on a new adventure: finding your way through the mysterious Moonfell Wood.

Although the plot of The Dreamless Castle is interesting in itself, Moonfell Wood is even better, in that it felt more integrated and more consistent. The story is more elaborate, the puzzles are more interesting, and the game lets you travel from night time to day time (and back to night time again) in cleverly unexpected ways. Both The Dreamless Castle and Moonfell Wood contain elements that may be interesting for (at least some) geeks, like fairies, goblins, mythological creatures and magic, and of course the implicit occasional reference to Sleeping Beauty. The scenery is beautiful enough, the problems interesting to solve and the music is fitting for a fairytale – dreamy and mysterious.

Of course the hidden object game graphics are generally nowhere near as sophisticated as RPGs and shooters for PC, Xbox, Playstation or some such – but then again, this is reflected in their price points: the average hidden object game costs 10-15 dollars at the very most; lots of them are even below the 10 dollar price point.

Most games are available both for Mac/PC, iPad and iPhone.

I’ve played several hidden object games myself, and to me the Awakening series belongs to the better ones in spite of the occasional too simple puzzle; mostly based on plot, graphics and general atmosphere.

It took me about 4 hours to finish The Dreamless Castle, and about 6 hours for Moonfell Wood.
If you want to try any of them out, you can go to the bigfishgames website and try the first hour of each game for free. Furthermore, I have never had to pay the full price for any of their games because of their many special offers, so if you’re willing to bide your time and wait for the right moment, you could save some money and get a game for 5-7 dollars.

I give both games together a quality score of 8 and a relevance score of 7 – because of the mythological creatures, and also because it could be argued that there is a very subtle messianic symbolism present throughout the story, in the form of Sophia, who is the only non-magical (“sinless”?) creature in the game and is considered the long-awaited saviour by every magical creature in the realm, born to expell the darkness and bring the light.

Quality: 8.0/10

Relevance: 7.0/10

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1 comment:

  1. I loved both these games—they are just right for a long plane trip or even if I am stressed out and want to wander through beautiful landscapes for awhile.