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iPhone Game Review: Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall
      #34762 - 10/03/09 10:36 AM

iPhone Game Review: Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall
Reviewed by JadeDragon

There have been quite a few good hidden objects games for the iPhone and iPod touch, with games like The Stone of Destiny and Yard Sale Hidden Treasures leading the pack. Big Fish Games has published a few hidden objects titles as well, the latest one being the Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall. As far as hidden objects games go, Nocturnal is highly styled game with heavy gameplay that includes 30 different locations and a few mini games that are well integrated into the game. If you like finding hidden items in urban setting under visual backdrop of dark nights, then Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall is the game for you.

Gameplay

If Barnabas Collins had roamed in Boston instead of Collinsport in ?Dark Shadows?, these would have been the scenes we saw. Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall offers us a window into the secret world of the Nocturnal who live for centuries. Though not vampires, they roam only in the darkness of the night as the virus inside of them can?t take the rays of the sun. You will follow Claire, who has just gotten infected by the virus, on her journey to search for answers and for the path to become a Nocturnal. And the answers lie in the hidden objects scattered around the city.



Unlike many hidden objects games, Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall has dominating urban settings at night. You will search in places like a dark alley, graveyards, a Chinatown street corner, a subway station or a cathedral. All places fit in perfectly with the story which is told in comic book style, and objects in these scenes fit the character. You will find nautical things in the night harbor, oriental banners and lanterns in Chinatown, and shovels, wolf and skeleton in the graveyards. Hidden object selections are clever and creative, and many of them are hidden well. If you are patient and know how this type of games works, you likely won?t need any hints, but there is a good number of hints available if you need them. There isn?t a visible timer in the hidden objects game, which is nice for those who hate being rushed, but there are speed bonuses if you are quick enough to find all the items required.

In addition to finding hidden objects, Nocturnal mixes in mini games that also fit in the game like puzzle pieces. Lock picking game gives you colored blocks and you must guess which color goes into which block. There are five colors and it shouldn?t take you more than 5 tries to unlock the puzzle. Scrying Device game is essentially a memory block game where you peek at the blocks and match two of the blocks with the same picture, letter or icons. Extraction Chamber is a flashing memory game in which four different color globes flash sequences that you must remember and repeat exactly to advance in rounds. While mini games are fun to play, they also serve a purpose: you can earn hints by completing the mini games in the fashion that are required. It?s indeed a clever game design.

The game offers multiple player profiles for score rankings, but they are only local rankings. No global scoreboard is available in the current version.



Graphics

The graphics are sharp and highly styled with night themes. While scenes are snaps of night around the city or indoor settings, the places are well illuminated and easy to see. The game has lots of additional items to the ones you must find, making the gameplay more challenging and more interesting. The mini games have simpler graphics but quite polished as well. And the story telling comic book is a nice touch. As graphics go, the Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall has the full package.

Sound

Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall has low beat lounge music that isn?t all that memorable but does a good job not to distract you from your gameplay. There is an option to play your own iPod music. Sound FX is very simple. While most sound FX is pleasant, the Extraction Chamber has a jarring sound that?s startling. You can turn the sound off, but in this particular mini game, sound effect actually helps the memory along with the visual.

Bugs:

The game has some noticeable bugs including:

1) Crashes on an iPhone 3GS
2) Sound volume changes in the Extraction Chamber mini game that can become very annoying when it gets super loud
3) One of the instruction screen gets stuck and doesn?t refresh

Hopefully these bugs will get fixed in future updates.

A gameplay video of the desktop version (the iPhone/iPod touch version is a direct port):



Conclusion

Nocturnal: Boston Nightfall is destined to become one of the best hidden objects games for the iPhone and iPod touch thanks to its highly styled themes and scenes, and its substantial and interesting gameplay. The game has interesting mini games and great graphics. The current game price is higher than many great hidden objects games, which might prevent some folks from trying it.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: -5- Unique themes and highly styled scenes.
Sound: -3.5- Nice BGM, but sound FX is simple with one distracting sound in Extraction Chamber mini game along with a bug.
Controls: -4.5- Touch control is very responsive.
Gameplay: -4- There is a lot of items both as props and hidden objects. Some levels could be even harder. Playing mini games to earn hints is a smart design. But, no global ranking

Playing Hints and Tips:

-Don?t tap on the screen blindly, you will get a score penalty.

-Though you don?t see the clock in hidden objects game, the game gives you time bonus if you finish the level in certain speed. So if you are seeking to top others in high scores, this is easy money.

App Facts:
Developer: Big Fish Games
Release Date: Sep 15, 2009
Price: $4.99
Buy App: iTunes App Store


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