Ferrum Secrets: Where is Grandpa?
Year Published: 2015
Publisher: EJRGames
Developer: ZigZag Soft & Black Shell Media

It's not unusual for me to occasionally stumble across bad games that make me question my hobby. It's far more unusual to find games so bad, they make me question my sanity. Ferrum Secrets: Where is Grandpa? eschews the traditional hand-drawn 2D backdrops of most hidden object games in favor of a Made-in-Unity 3D environment that you can move around and interact with. I actually find that idea intriguing, but it is abundantly clear that the developers were in way over their heads and not up to this task.

Ferrum doesn't have many secrets to uncover - just a lot of bugs.

I'll spoil the whole plot because the game barely has one: You've learned that your genius inventor grandpa has disappeared, and you go to his apartment to look for him. He's been kidnapped by villains who want to use his knowledge to build weapons, in a plot that we've seen a million times before and certainly in better games. For some reason, you bring your pet kitten Iris, who helps out in exactly two puzzles, though she appears on every screen.

What follows is a clunky, bug-ridden adventure with one of the worst English translations I've ever seen. The dialogue makes little sense and whether or not you can skip through it or you have to wait for it to advance on its own is completely arbitrary. Also, whether or not you'll have time to read it when it's automatic is arbitrary, but it probably doesn't matter. The text is filled with spelling and grammatical errors, and is so nonsensical that a note early on claims Ferrum, the city the characters live in, is a center of fornication. I'm assuming they meant something else, but I do not know what.

Whatever is going on here, your guess is as good as mine.

Ferrum Secrets is so awkward to play, with the text giving little direction and tiny objects obscured against cluttered or dark backgrounds, that you're likely going to spam the hint button or use a guide to figure out what to do. That's assuming you'll even play this game, and I strongly recommend not doing that if you care about Steam achievements. I managed to get all of them, but due to the myriad glitches and particularly cruel Extreme difficulty setting in which you only have 20 seconds to make a valid move (cutscenes and puzzles notwithstanding) or the game starts from the beginning again, many players probably won't. I only did after several replays that were cut short by game-ending bugs. Let's give a rundown, shall we:

  • One of the Collector's Items needed for achievements is hidden behind a vase at the apartment's entrance. When you knock it over, sometimes it lands on the red leaf, leaving you unable to collect it during the hidden object scene.

  • After talking to Doris the witch about the locked dresser, keep bringing her the items she needs, but do not click on her to initiate a conversation again. For some reason, she repeats the dialogue concerning the dresser and the light spheres, which effectively softlocks the game.

  • In the factory, there is a part where you must rappel down a rope with gloves to reach a locked room below. If you put the gloves on before attaching the rope to the balcony, they are effectively gone, and no further progress can be made.

  • In the last area, when you place the bomb on the airship, you may return to the escape plane only to find the game telling you that you can't leave until you place the bomb. The bomb is gone from the scene where you put it and gone from your inventory, leaving you unable to complete the final step.

    This is a cutscene.

    Ferrum Secrets is so awful, even Iris and the other kittens and cat photos seen throughout the game can't save it. (As a cat lover, I'm wondering what I did to deserve this?) Heck, the game can't even get its title right - the title screen and all the game files refer to it as Ferrum Secrets, but everywhere else it's called Ferrum's Secrets. I went without the possessive for this review because it's not on the title screen, that's what the readers are gonna see, and I don't want them asking where I got it from.

    With graphics that look like a bad acid trip, an almost complete lack of music, walls of text that insist on appearing with nothing coherent to offer, and game design that feels like someone's incomplete freshman college project, Ferrum Secrets barely qualifies as a game. Maybe someday someone will make a good 3D hidden object game, but you won't find anything remotely resembling one here. Only those looking for something so dreadful it would make them never want to play a game again need apply.

    SCORE: 0.5/5



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