iPad Game Review: Lost Souls: Enchanted Paintings HD Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Lost Souls: Enchanted Paintings is a hidden object/puzzle game from G5. It features a kid-friendly, light fantasy setting, high production values, and a pleasant, if formulaic, story.
For those of you who are not familiar with the genre, hidden object games are designed to give the player a relaxing and mildly challenging gaming experience based mostly around finding a semi-randomized series of objects scattered throughout a variety of static locations. Games of this type are often sprinkled with puzzles to break up the searching in order to keep it fresh and interesting. Although Lost Souls doesn't break any new ground, it manages to distinguish itself by its high level of polish and excellent variety in mini-games. While these mini-games are not especially challenging, I can't really complain because it never really felt like they were meant to be. Lost Souls is a casual game, and is meant to provide a relaxing, satisfying, and pleasant diversion; a goal that it achieves with flying colors.
Your overarching goal is to work your way through a variety of locations (paintings) in order to collect the objects you need to achieve your ultimate goal, which, in this case, is to free your child from the central painting where he has been painlessly and in a completely blood-free manner, imprisoned by an evil sorcerer. The majority of the gameplay (time-wise, anyway) is taken-up by the hidden object component. Each time you play, the list changes, so it would take a significant number of playthroughs before feeling truly repetitive. This object hunting is skillfully broken up by a tightly integrated series of mini-games that actually feel like they are part of the story for a change. You will need to find tools and special objects along the way that will allow you to manipulate in-game items correctly to advance the story.
A great deal of thoughtful features abound to make this as fun as possible for as many people as possible. First, you can set the game's initial difficulty before you begin. Second, Lost Souls' in-game hint system is quite generous, as is the large, friendly SKIP button on each of the mini-game levels. Second, the game is smart enough to tell you if you are wasting time in a location where there is nothing to do. And third, Lost Souls thoughtfully includes a strategy guide, which is accessible from within the game's main menu, although this last feature is only available to those who purchase the collector's edition (or upgrade to it). Lost Souls fully supports Game Center Achievements, which should be good news for all of you achievement hounds and obsessive completionists.
Lost Souls: Enchanted Paintings is the first hidden object game I've played that supports the new iPad's retina display, and, boy, does it look great. Everything is crystal clear and razor sharp, making the search for even the tiniest of items a breeze. Unfortunately, however, it doesn't support zooming so if you're playing on a 1st or 2nd generation device, you're at a distinct disadvantage. Although each location is essentially static, there are nicely animated touches to prevent you from feeling like you are looking at a still image. Water ripples, grass waves, sunlight twinkles... Another nice touch that goes a long way toward preventing you from blindly tapping everything in sight is the inclusion of glowing sparkles that alert the player to objects and areas which are interactive.
While the sound effects don't exactly stand out, the soundtrack fits perfectly. It's pleasantly airy with a mystical quality. I wouldn't go so far as to call it actual music, but it certainly adds to the game's charm and immersion factor.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
The game is free to download, although the full game requires purchase. The basic game can be unlocked for $4.99 (25 locations) and the premium version costs $5.99 (34 locations + the strategy guide previously mentioned).
If you enjoy hidden object games this should definitely be on your "buy" list; especially if you have a new iPad. Also, if you have children who enjoy these types of games, this one is quite accessible for all ages. If you like your adventures to be a bit of a challenge, however, look elsewhere because this one isn't really designed to stump you.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Retina graphics look amazing on the new iPad. Sound: - 3.5 - Great soundtrack but sound effects are not a standout. Controls: - 5 - A clean, intuitive, and accurate touchscreen interface. This is not a PC port. Gameplay: - 4 - Quite enjoyable but may not be challenging enough for hardcore adventure gamers.
Playing Hints and Tips:
If you're looking for a relaxing experience or setting up the game for a youngster, choose the easiest setting. If you're stuck, use a hint. If there's nothing left to do where you are, it will tell you without emptying the hint meter. Some hidden objects can be found behind or within other objects so use common sense while you are searching by tapping on drawers, boxes, cabinets, etc.