iPad Game Review: Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD Review
Reviewed by JadeDragon
To call G5 Entertainment's new game Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD a hidden objects would only do partial justice to the gameplay. In the spirit of adventure games, Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD takes you on a journey that literally requires you to figure out each step along the way and help save a life of a young mother. The game has a balanced mix of hidden objects gameplay, puzzles and adventure element, and it manages to keep your interest from the beginning to end. The graphics and audio provide sufficient power and polish to complete the gaming experience. The game is developed by Artifex Mundi and published on iOS and Android by G5. The game is also available for Nook and Kindle.
The opening cutscenes starts you on the journey into a mystery of a young mother's disappearance, and the location she disappeared, the House of Fear, in the creepy carnival only added to the lore. As a detective, you're tasked to trace her steps and follow into another realm or dimension to find out why the carnival master kidnapped her and who was the behind the act. Unlike most hidden objects games, you'll need to figure where to look for clues in order to move on in the game. Hidden objects games are very easy complete with hints and the option to skip. The game offers equal number if not more of puzzles to gain important items for the next step in the game. Puzzles include memory game, connect pipe and many more, and they're all quite easy if you aren't a complete novice at puzzle games.
The most interesting element of the gameplay is the adventure parts where you have to figure out what items to get, from where and to fit what scene in order to move on to the next scene. The adventure gameplay offers good variety including freeing a fortuneteller from a sword laden box, drug a piece of meat to feed to the lion who was guarding the path you must go through, and finding necessary items such as an oven knob to get the saw stuck on the roasting chicken, a napkin that has lock combo to unlock a lunch box, etc. The game is so well designed with the clues and solutions that you'd never feel bored through the game. If you do get stuck, the game offers a 70-page solution guide that offers detailed step-by-step cheat detailing what exactly you must do.
The graphics style has a slight watercolor feel to it and they look good on the iPad with Retina Display. There are 48 locations in the game, each scene fits into the big picture. The locations between the two realms mirror each other, but each has distinct look and feel. In our realm, the scenes look more carnival-like, colorful, exaggeration of fun items and face. But in the other realm, items and figures are darker and morbid, including an act where you must find a tool to cut down the hangman and take an item from his body.
The hidden objects scenes have large items, easier to see than in most hidden objects scenes, and the style of the scenes match the game's graphics style. Puzzles are sharp and game boards are usually large. The touch controls in the game are very responsive and the title screens, in-game menu and guide are also extremely well done.
The background music has the typical carnival themed style in our realm and gets darker in the other realm. It certainly adds to the unsettling feeling when the story makes an unexpected turn. The voice acting was also quite good, adding to the overall dramatic storytelling. The game offers sufficient amount of sound FX for all gameplay elements.
If you're tired of pure hidden objects games but don't want to leave the genre entirely, Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD takes you on an intriguing journey where you must solve puzzles and mystery to save someone's life. The game offers quite a few interesting puzzles and adventure gameplay in addition to hidden objects, and grabs your attention from the start and never lets go. The graphics are stylish and audio capable. The game is free to try for the first few scenes and it costs $6.99 to unlock the entire game content. It offers achievements as well as Game Center Support.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4.5- Sharp graphics and smooth animation. Sound: -4.5- Proper background music, very good voice acting and good sound FX. Controls: -5- Touch control works flawlessly. Gameplay: -4.5- Plenty to do and gameplay mixes many elements in and blends them well together. It could be longer though.
Playing Hints and Tips:
If you can't figure out something, check the built-in guide. If you don't want to play the puzzles you can skip them; and if you don't care for hidden objects games, you can play card game instead.