iPad Game Review: Hamlet HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG features, Shaders or Product Placement HD (Hamlet HD) is a silly point-and-click puzzle adventure based so loosely on William Shakespeare's play that if the game had an entirely different name, you would never draw a connection between the two. In this game, Hamlet was accidentally squashed by a time traveler who has assumed the responsibility of rescuing the lovely Ophelia, from an alien, whose name happens to be Polonius. Yeah, I told you it didn?t have much to do with the play. It is, however, a well-crafted and whimsical puzzler that doesn?t take itself very seriously. This is a good thing.
The genre of Point-and-click adventures is going to have to rename itself in the coming years as gaming shifts more and more to portable platforms. Let?s start right now. Hamlet HD is a touch-and-tap adventure that tasks you with saving Ophelia from Polonius. Each screen is a standalone puzzle and must be solved without any instructions. This results in a great deal of trial and error. If you are a rat in a maze, this would be maddening. However, this game is so lighthearted and forgiving that it works really well.
There is no inventory (yea!) in Hamlet HD so everything you need to solve a puzzle will be right in front of you. Sound easy? It isn?t. The artwork has a sort of uniform 2-D look, much like a storybook, and you can?t really tell what can be manipulated by just looking at it. Additionally, a sizeable number of the puzzles rendered me hapless even after using the generous hint system to solve it for me. Be warned: This game takes you deep down the rabbit hole so don?t expect logic to always rule the day. There is fun here, however, and a great deal of it.
The graphics of Hamlet HD are charmingly drawn and loaded with personality. In fact, they aren?t so much graphics as animated illustrations. As I alluded to earlier, this whole game seeks to recreate the feel of a picture book, and it succeeds. While game?s full title speaks truly (i.e. no shaders), the graphics are crisp, bright, and smoothly animated and I have no doubt that this simplistic style is a design choice, not a constraint of the developers.
The sound effects of Hamlet HD are nicely sampled and (thankfully) not overdone. Most of them are simply ambient, however, some of them will help you solve the puzzles. The overall quality is excellent, and do a GREAT job of not becoming annoying or repetitive while you stare at the screen scratching your head. The music doesn't play continuously, however, I enjoyed it very much whenever it did. If you are a fan of Tim Burton films like Pee Wee's Big Adventure, you will enjoy the manic yet whimsical soundtrack.
Hamlet HD is a very enjoyable point-and-click, er, touch-and-tap adventure. The graphics are stylish, the sound is pleasant, and the premise is original. Some of the puzzles may leave you scratching your head, but the generous hint system will steer you away from frustration; even if the solutions occasionally result in a facepalm.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5): 4 A fun puzzle adventure game with original graphics, good sound, and a wacky premise.
Graphics: - 4 - personality-drenched 2-D graphics make this game unique. Sound: - 4 - Subtle ambient sounds that don?t get on your nerves. Lively theme song. Controls: - 5 - You touch and you tap. What?s to go wrong? Gameplay: - 4 - Clever if occasionally maddening puzzles. A good hint system saves the day here.
Playing Hints and Tips:
There is no penalty for mistakes as you learn the rules and behaviors of each puzzle. When you think you have run out of things to tap, don't forget to try tapping your character, or even his thought balloon!