iPhone Game Review: Paranormal Agency Reviewed by JadeDragon
From the creator of The Mystery of the Crystal Portal comes another hidden objects game. This time around is about ghosts and paranormal activities. To solve mysteries and exposing ghosts, Heather Mills, our heroine must peel off the cluttered fa?ade in each location where she is investigating into recent poltergeist attacks on innocent people. The hidden objects play a very important role in moving along the story that's written for the iPhone version exclusively. The prevailing ending is not satisfactory only because the victory but also the long journey that took you there.
By hidden objects game standards, Paranormal Agency has a very meaty gameplay thanks to the 50 plus levels and the sheer number of objects in a scene. All locations are stuffed with items that fit the place but only a hoarder can live in. Most objects are easy to find once you?ve trained your eyes to see them, but there are also many items that disappear in plain sight. With so many items in one scene, Paranormal Agency finds new ways to reuse each location by presenting you with 5 different types of challenges such as shape matching, word matching, type matching and more. In some games, this might seem to be a cheap way of extending the gameplay without adding more locations, but in Paranormal Agency, there are so many items that it seems very natural that it requires you to find more hidden objects. In many cases, the game adds more items for new challenges as well: for example it adds a layer of translucent objects on top of the solid items and you must find them all; or the game adds more bottles when it asks you to find all the bottles from the scene. These little changes make the game interesting.
Paranormal Agency offers two modes of gameplay: timed (classic) and untimed (relaxed) games. Classic gameplay gives you plenty of time to meet the quota, and for the 100% achievers there are achievements specifically given to timed games. The relaxed mode has no timer, which might be just the thing for those only have a few minutes for each gameplay on the go. Either way, you get plenty of hints. Search closely in each location you will find those carefully placed question marks. Pick them up you will accumulate hint points which come in handy in the Classic games when you are running out of time. The game keeps track your achievements both locally and gives you an option to upload them to Facebook.
In addition to hidden object gameplay, Paranormal Agency offers some mini-games as well. These include very different types of games anywhere from memory card matching and puzzle slider to weight balance and untangle lines game. The mini-games are mostly fun casual game variety, and they are amusing and give your eyes a rest from staring hard at cluttered scenes. If you aren?t fond of any type of mini-games you can just choose to skip them.
Graphics & Sound
Graphics in Paranormal Agency is very sharp and colorful, very important aspects in a hidden objects game. Items are easy to recognize and placements mixed with ?right in front of your eyes? and ?where is the darned thing?? Both in-game UI and the map/menu screens have styled design that?s easy to follow. Characters also have their own style though many are very exaggerated. In addition to testing the game on the iPhone, we also tested it on the iPad. While the scene in 2x didn?t look as sharp as on the iPhone, we found the game very playable with good rendering in zoomed view on the iPad.
Paranormal Agency has both background music and sound FX, though doesn?t have big collections in either category. The BGM doesn?t exactly fit the theme of the game, and has a style that sounds like lounge music and island music combine. Though the game doesn?t offer any in-game playlist, you can certainly play your own iPod music by turning the in-game music off. Sound FX is minimal but fits the game quite well.
If you are sucker for hidden objects games like I am, Paranormal Agency is worth the trip. The game offers plenty of gameplay, seemingly endless, yet doesn?t feel boring. Mini-games are easy and diverting. It has sharp and pleasing graphics on the iPhone and iPod touch, and quite decent looking on the iPad. The game offers enough incentives (the achievements) in two playing modes (timed and relaxed) that will lure you back to replay it. And for those who are just curious there is a free version to try it out.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4.5 - Sharp and colorful graphics. Sound: - 3.5 - Music is nice but doesn?t really fit the game?s spirit, and sound FX is minimal. Controls: - 5 - Touch control is smoothly and flawless. Gameplay: - 4.5 - Meaty gameplay with lots of levels. Scenes have a huge number of items and many items are hidden well.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- It?s worth to gather hint points for timed play.