Oh, I know all about your sordid love affair with Sting
Play minesweeper while solving a whodunit mystery.
You move a man around various Victorian rooms, and as you do so, tiles light up. The brighter the tile, the more traps are nearby. Right-click on traps to disarm them. This is Minesweeper! After a bit, it adds a few kinds of real-time traps: donít stand on this spot too long or it explodes, that sort of thing. In addition, there are a few specialty pieces, plus a mystery to solve. You solve the mystery by reading clues and talking to NPCS after the room is disarmed.
The main mode, Adventure mode, is short (37 rooms) and at the end you are asked to solve the mystery that took place in the house. Puzzle mode lets you choose a difficulty and places you in a randomly-generated room chock full of traps.
|Fun Factor:||Entertaining. The story is a very nice touch, but I felt a little overwhelmed by the obligation to understand the whole mystery and keep track of everything. I was tempted to buy it, though, and try to solve it. So thatís probably working for them as intended.|
|Pacing:||The main game (Adventure Mode) seems well paced, assuming you arenít a Minesweeper mastermind. However, I got the feeling it was pretty short, and reviews say the same. The Puzzle Mode seems like itíd be okay for a while, but with only three difficulties it might not be enough for hardcore Minesweeper fans.|
|Story:||Yes. A mystery story. You are an inspector from Scotland Yard and must solve it.|
Clean and straightforward menus. The main menu doubles as the loading screen, which is a nice effect.
Gameplay is basically Minesweeper -- click to move, right-click to denote a mine. Fans of Minesweeper can get into trouble, though, because the Inspector actually walks over to where you click. If he chooses to walk on a trap, he dies. Sometimes you must click a path for the Inspector to keep him from getting killed. Annoying!
This problem is made worse when "Quick Walk" mode is on. (The game asks if you want to enable it after you finish a few puzzles.) In this mode, The Inspector still walks to where you click, but now you don't see him walking. So you'll click on a square and suddenly the Inspector will blow up halfway across the room.
Finally, there's some Space Bar weirdness: after you beat a room, you can go examine special items within the room. To see where these items are, you press the space bar. But this is quirky; if you press space bar, then click an item, then release the space bar, youíll see the clue for just a sec and then itíll disappear. You have to press the space bar, remember what items are lit, then release the space bar and click the item.
|Menus:||Simple and elegant. The main menu motif uses daggers; other screens use old-timey-radio buttons to convey the sense of setting. The latter were a bit too small to be clicked on conveniently.|
|Pre-Game Instructions:||Yes. Two pop-up windows full of instructions are shown to you when you begin a new Adventure Mode game.|
|In-Game Tutorial:||Sort of: there are occasional pop-up hints and explanations for new game mechanics.|
|Other Instructions:||There is a "Help" screen available from the main menu.|
|Save Game:||Yes. Auto-save|
|Player Profiles:||Typical. A nice touch is that you pick an avatar to go with your profile. (This is just a portrait on the menu; it doesn't affect your in-game avatar.)|
|Lefty Swapped Mouse:||Yes|
The menus and loading screens are elegant but lacking in some nuances. In other words, typical of a Flash game. The in-game art is serviceable and definitely fits with the game motifs.
|Backgrounds:||The rooms are designed to look like parts of a large Victorian mansion. They do a good job of setting place. The rooms donít really differ too much, as far as I can see, but since youíre so focused on the traps and tiles, it doesnít really matter.|
|Game Pieces:||The rooms are full of trap items which activate as the traps are found -- chandeliers which fall, pit traps, clocks with knives, etc. Some items are reused on later levels, but not too often.|
|Fonts:||Stock gothic fonts. The main menu is easy to read, but the Options buttons require some squinting. A typewriter font is used for the credits screen, which is also a little hard to read. In-game text is fine, though.|
|Music:||The game music could just as easily have been the soundtrack for a Masterpiece Theater movie. Not a lot of tracks, as far as I can tell, but thatís okay.|
|Sound Effects:||All appropriate and nice sounding. Nothing stands out.|
|Resolution (Full Screen):||800x600|
|Quality Settings:||There's a "Fast Computer" flag. I couldn't see that it did anything at all.|
|Cursors:||Normal hardware cursor only|
|Engine:||Flash wrapped in a Win32 library (not PopCap's)|
|Size Downloaded:||8.03 MB|
|Size Installed:||56.6 MB (after running the first time). Mostly "cache files"|
|System Requirements:||Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
SVGA Graphics Card
|Distributer:||All Major Portals|
|Credits In Game:||Yes. Some versions (depending on where you download it) also have expanded credits in the readme.txt file; these include additional Oberon personnel such as the CEO. The list below is the in-game credits.|
Main Menu. Also doubles as the loading screen. (The knives fly in from the side while it loads; when the final knife is thrown, the game is done loading, and words appear on the knives.) In this screen shot, the mouse is over the 'Options and Extras' menu item.
The Options and Extras screen.
High Scores screen.
Create-a-new-player screen. You get to pick an avatar.
Intro story. Itís just this one page.
One of the two pre-game instruction screens shown when you start a new Adventure Mode game. There is a lot of animation going on in the box.
Early game screen.
Relatively early in the game (after a few puzzles), this box shows up and asks if you want to turn Quick Walk on. (Note that I had already found this Option and turned it on at this point; it still asked me anyway.)
Another early level.
A bit later. The map has gotten larger. Note also the NPC that Iíve just run up to talk to. Turns out you canít talk to NPCs until all traps are cleared in the room. They act just like other in-room clues.
An in-game clue. I clicked on a painting after Iíd finished de-trapping a room.
An in-game clue. I clicked on a vent grate after Iíd finished de-trapping a room. I was told that Parker Hears Some Voices, and then this screen. The right and left boxes hold text for each of the two conversants.
Menu for the Puzzle Game. (The Adventure Game has a similar menu, except it just has 'New Game' and 'Resume Saved Game' options.)
What you see if you click 'Help' from the main menu. Note that this is not shown to players automatically; they have to request it by clicking 'Help'.
What the game looks like while paused. It auto-pauses when it loses focus, and does not un-pause until you click.
The Gallery, accessible from the Options and Extras screen, is unlocked early in the game. (You find an envelope in-game and it gives you access to these.)
An entry from the Gallery.
The Story Review button, accessible from the Options and Extras screen, lets you review story screens youíve uncovered. (The 'Introduction' screen is the same one as shown above -- the pre-game story screen.)