The Secret of Hildegards
Year Published: 2011
Developer: Komar Games
Despite being released in 2011, The Secret of Hildegards looks and plays like something made much longer ago and with very little care or budget. After a brief introduction in which protagonist Lady Hildegard learns that a family member has unleashed some demons at her grandfather's mansion, we are immediately plunged into hidden object scene after hidden object scene with hardly any further story development. You'd think from the setup we might come across some monsters at the mansion, but nope, it's an interminable slog through some of the most depressingly mundane scenery I've ever seen. Much of it is far too dark, monochromatic, and cluttered to find small or dark-colored objects without clicking everywhere, which can activate a very annoying misclick penalty. Many objects are misnamed (the game considers anything that tells time a "watch"), and sometimes there are multiple items on the screen that can fit the objects on the list. Example: "Flower", and there are several flowers, but it wants a particular one. Adding to the already heaping tedium is a sluggish and occasionally unresponsive cursor.
After each hidden object scene, a puzzle will pop up that you can either skip or solve. Not only are they all extremely tired cliches, but they are strangely disembodied from the scenes. Usually, if you're given a gear puzzle to solve in a HOG, it's to fix a machine that operates via gears. But here, a gear puzzle pops up after completing a fountain scene - no rhyme or reason for it. Or how about a key maze when the key you get from it was already sitting out in the open? While I normally attempt to finish puzzles without skipping, I resorted to the skip button twice: Once when I had to match the image of a compass rose to one on a scrap of paper and even though I had it lined up exactly per the instructions, the game wouldn't accept it. The other was one of those tile puzzles where they're on a grid with arrows along the sides that move the entire row or column. I struggled through and completed one of these, but when the game coughed up another there was only so much more time I was willing to spend on it.
In case you are wondering if there is any actual "secret" to be discovered in this dreary expedition, there's not. The game ends abruptly and with a plot twist I'd call inscrutable if only there was anything to actually understand before it. Even by 2011, there were far, far better HOG's out there to bother with a game like The Secret of Hildegards.
Typical cluttered HO scene
Typical cliche puzzle