Left In The Dark: No One on Board is a hidden object adventure game that firmly subscribes to the old saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Left In The Dark is a Hidden Object Adventure game that puts you in the role of a private investigator trying to get to the bottom of a series of nautical accidents and strange goings on. Those familiar with the genre will be right at home here as it doesn't monkey with a winning formula. Because of this, Left In The Dark doesn't break any new ground, but its high production values and apparent desire to give the throngs of hidden object fans what they want has resulted in another winner but at the cost of originality. To be fair, it's nearly impossible to significantly change the gameplay of hidden object adventures without landing squarely in another genre, so I'm inclined to cut them some slack here. Game mechanics are quite straightforward, and gamers who have played other games can safely skip the tutorial with this one. There are three difficulty levels (including a relaxing untimed mode), a generous hint system, and the ability to cleanly zoom into hidden object scenes; three things that I consider mandatory for this genre in order to reach its broad audience.
The story is spooky and prominently features a hooded figure with hooks instead of hands so you may not want to hand this one off to your 5-year old unless you're nearby. There is no actual violence, though, and no gore. Although Left In The Dark is technically a hidden object adventure, if I could, I would reverse those to components because the focus here is definitely on adventure and less on finding hidden objects. Of course, even when not formally placed in a hidden object location with listed objects to find, you should always be looking for hidden or unusual pieces of the environment because your success will depend on it. I actually found this game a bit more challenging than most in the genre, mostly due to it's less linear puzzles than you usually find in these games. Expect to return to previously visited locations repeatedly in order to progress through the adventure. If you get stuck, tapping the hint lantern will only consume a hint if you are actually at a location where there is something to do so feel free to use this with impunity, at least to confirm that there is nothing left to do where you are. The mini-games are quite enjoyable, although not particularly challenging. If you don't enjoy them, however, you will be given the option to skip any puzzle after a timer has expired. Left In the Dark features 68 locations, 14 mini-games, and 13 achievements so there is plenty of content here to ensure you get your money's worth.
Left In The Dark supports retina graphics on supported devices (iPad 3 or later, and Retina iPad Mini). The locations are all well-drawn, although minimally animated as are most in this genre. The hidden object portion of the game allows lossless (objects don't get blurrier as they get larger) zoom in as you search, which will help immensely, especially on non-retina devices.
The sound effects of Left In The Dark are excellent. They provide a great deal of atmosphere, and really help to pull you into the game. The music, unfortunately, often felt like it was trying to artificially (and unsuccessfully) create tension during some portions of the game; which was tiring, bordering on irritating. For this reason, I turned it waaaaaaay down as I played.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Left In the Dark is free to download. If you enjoy it, you can unlock the full game with a single purchase of $6.99.
Hidden Object Adventure fans will likely consider this an insta-buy due to its strict adherence to the genre's default formula, while those new to the genre will find it to be highly accessible and exactly as challenging as they choose to make it. Those looking for a fresh take on hidden object adventures, however, will need to keep looking.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Nicely done graphics make this adventure a pleasure to look at. Sound: - 3 - The sound effects were great, but the music was a bit tiresome. Controls: - 5 - It works exactly as you'd expect it to. What more could you ask? Gameplay: - 4 - Unoriginal but only because they stuck with what works.
Playing Hints and Tips:
While random tapping is discouraged by the game, don't be shy about tapping on everything that looks even slightly suspicious. if you don't, you will likely get stuck. Even some hidden object locations will require you to interact with objects that aren't on your "find" list so experiment and be thorough.