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Letters From Nowhere: A Hidden Object Mystery for iOS Review
      #45909 - 01/14/14 02:55 PM

Letters From Nowhere: A Hidden Object Mystery (not to be confused with Letters From Nowhere 1 or 2) is G5's first attempt at bolting the freemium business model onto a hidden object game. It doesn't succeed.

Gameplay

Unlike it's predecessors, the full version of Letters From Nowhere: A Hidden Object Mystery (LFN3) is free to download and play with no additional content to unlock via IAP. Of course, nothing's really free so, as expected, there's a catch. Unlike typical hidden object adventure games where you can spend relaxing hours lazily playing through the game, LFN3 is loaded with game timers and in-game currency (stamps) that will require you to either continually stop/start your game, or pony up copious amounts of real money. This is all summed-up nicely by a line from G5's own App Store description: YOU CAN UNLOCK ADDITIONAL BONUSES VIA IN-APP PURCHASE FROM WITHIN THE GAME! (caps and exclamation point were not added by me). I understand the need for developers and publishers to be paid for their hard work, and I've even come to realize that freemium actually works quite well on some types of games. However, hidden object games tend to be more relaxing and thoughtful affairs, and don't survive the transition to twitchy adrenaline bait very well. These games also tend to sell quite well at a premium price point so I'm a little puzzled as to why G5 felt this was necessary.



Anyway, once you strip away the business model, you are left with a pretty standard mission-based hidden object game complete with a few simple mini-games. LFN3 does manage a few new tricks like mixing up the clues; sometimes they're silhouettes, sometimes they're object names, and sometimes they're just vague clues. Whenever I started a mission, I always enjoyed it, in spite of feeling rushed to find things quickly. This quickly changed to irritation, however, whenever I found myself back at the map and unable to keep playing. If you can stick with it, you will eventually play through 24 different locations on hundreds of quests. Another departure for G5 is Universal support. This may be due to the fact that the freemium model doesn't allow you to play on multiple devices because consumable purchases are tied to the device where they were purchased. A Cloud Save feature would fix this, but something tells me they don't consider this to be something that needs fixing.



Graphics

LFN3 is a pretty game, especially the main map screen, which looks fantastic. Retina-enabled devices are fully supported, as is iPhone 5/5s/5c widescreen support. The locations also look nice, but as with most other hidden object games, zooming in results in a decrease in image sharpness so it's not really much help.

Sound

The sound and music are pretty standard fare for a hidden object game. It's pleasant but it doesn't make you want to reach for your headphones.

Conclusion

If you enjoy hidden object games but don't have the money to buy a full game, this is as much content as you're ever going to get for free (barring the occasional temporary price drops). Also, if you tend to like your gaming in bite-sized chunks, LFN3 is going to be right up your alley. The rest of you, though, are likely to find Letters From Nowhere: A Hidden Object Mystery to be less enjoyable than almost everything else out there due to the need to continually spend real money or wait for game timers.



Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 4 - Nice graphics, especially on the main map screen. The zoom capability is as disappointing as ever, though.
Sound: - 3 - The sound and music are both decent, but nothing to write home about.
Controls: - 5 - An accurate touch interface makes the actual gameplay frustration-free.
Gameplay: - 2 - A potentially good game hamstrung by a clumsily implemented freemium business model.

Playing Hints and Tips:

If you're a compulsive gamer, stay away; You will spend quite a bit of money to play this game for long stretches of time. When searching for hidden objects, don't tap them until you have found at least 3 as collecting objects in rapid succession yields significant bonuses. Returning to the game daily will yield in-game bonuses so take a few moments to at least launch it daily.



App Facts:

Developer: G5 Entertainment
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Price: Free with consumable IAPs
Buy App: Letters From Nowhere: A Hidden Object Mystery

Reviewed by Tom Slayton









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