Eventide: Slavic Fable (Collector's Edition)
Year Published: 2017
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Developer: The House of Fables
Eventide: Slavic Fable is a hidden object game that is, per the subtitle, based on the myth of the Fern Flower, a legendary plant that supposedly only blooms on the eve of the Summer Solstice and brings good fortune to those who can find it. Boruta, a devil creature from Polish mythology, is after the Fern Flower and kidnaps Baba, your grandmother, to perform a ritual that will grant him immortalty. Baba is likely based on Baba Yaga, but is not evil in this story, so as her granddaughter, you must rescue her from Boruta and save the Fern Flower.
Putting out fires in a Slavic Mythology-themed park
Eventide, like many other House of Fables/Artifex Mundi collaborations, is a gorgeous adventure with hand-drawn backgrounds and lots of animation and lighting effects to bring the lush environments to life. The problem with Eventide is that it's largely a rehash of two earlier games, Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood and Grim Legends: The Forsaken Bride, in both the similarities in the settings and the puzzles. While those games had a genuine mystery that kept the player's attention, Eventide is pretty much just "Save the Grandmother". The novelty of being based on Slavic mythology is certainly unusual (and it had to happen sometime considering how many HOG developers are Polish or Russian), but more could've been done with it. Some characters like Boruta, Baba, and Leshy, do originate with the fables, but I've seen complaints that the (unintentionally creepy) squirrel-kid does not, and indeed, my searches did not turn up a "Lilacus" anywhere outside of this game.
It may partially be because I've finished Enigmatis 2 and Grim Legends that Eventide, with its nearly-duplicatd puzzles, felt much shorter and easier. But it's not just my over-familiarity, some things were definitely stripped down. Grim Legends, for example, had a mini-game where you shoot arrows at sandbags to lower a drawbridge that actually required a minor amount of skill. This puzzle reappears in Eventide, but the timing element has been removed.
There is no shortage of weird critters in this game
Eventide contains both hidden object and fragmented object scenes. Curiously, some hidden object scenes attempt to justify the random item picking by hiding pieces to a lock behind them. For example, in one scene a part of a Grandfather Clock is behind each item on the list and when you've found them all, the clock opens to reveal something you actually need. It's a sign the developers were trying to make this genre element make more sense in context, something few outside of the Midnight Mysteries series have done. But only a handful of the HO scenes attempt this, and it makes me wonder why other story details weren't given the same level of attention. The game's lore states that Boruta needs the Fern Flower for the immortality spell to work, yet he doesn't have it when he begins the ritual. Then, when you confront him...I don't want to reveal spoilers, but it feels like a detail about the flower was changed at the last minute.
Eventide has optional flower and card-collecting sidequests, and the Collector's Edition has a bonus chapter. While it's always good to get a bit more playtime for your money, the bonus chapter here exemplifies the limitations of the game's chosen myth. It shows how Baba, when she was a child, first found the Fern Flower. That's just it - it's yet another similar quest for the same item in the same part of the woods, complete with helping the same forest creature with his steam bath problems. Surely, there are more orginal stories in Slavic mythology they could've borrowed from.
Finding items in a stained-glass window. The artwork was clearly the focus of the dev's efforts.
The reviews for Eventide tend to be overwhelmingly positive and that's not without good reason. It's very pretty and will have you doing the same things you love doing if you enjoy the hidden object genre at all. If it was the first modern HOG you ever played, you'd likely be impressed with it. The problem from the standpoint of a HOG veteran is that the games it rehashes (Enigmatis 2 and Grim Legends) are far better recommendations. Eventide is more of the same, but with its simplified gameplay and story that focuses on cute talking animals, it feels more suited to children and novice players than anyone else.