Left in the Dark: No One on Board
Year Published: 2013
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Developer: Moonrise Interactive
Left in the Dark is the type of hidden object game that might impress you only if you've never played a modern one before. But if you have played any amount of them, then there is little here you haven't already seen before, from the cliche puzzles, to the repeating screen maze, to the cloaked villain lingering in the shadows, to fixing a hole in a boat, to the confirmation that all HOG's with nautical themes will end in a lighthouse. It is also very short and easy (yes, even for a HOG) and has no bonus chapter.
Meeting the ghost of Isabella
As "Madam Detective" Charlotte Austin, you're asked by the authorities in Port Providence to investigate a derelict ship that returned to shore with its entire crew either missing or dead and all the cargo gone. As you explore the ship, the ghost of a young girl named Isabella appears and guides you on your journey, as there seems to be a link between the attacks on the ships and the incident that took her life 40 years ago. I am probably making this sound more interesting than it is. There's no real mystery in this Scooby-Doo-like whodunnit because you only meet a few characters briefly in the beginning, and then it's just you being stalked by the cloaked hook-handed man until Isabella reveals everything.
The game itself has a lot of the same item-hunting against pretty backdrops that we've come to know and love in this genre, but there are no sidequests, no helper character, no special abilities, no real innovations of any kind. Everything that is done here has been done better before and since.
The derelict ship
To top off the general lackluster feeling of it all, Left in the Dark's voice acting is an example of why, with some very rare exceptions, I typically prefer my characters in hidden object games to talk via text only. If the character I am playing as does not sound anything like what I would sound like in the same situations, then I can't get into the role. But there isn't really much of a "role" to play here. The ending suggests the game was to be the first in a series starring this "lady detective" and the villain, but none were ever made. It's not surprising that such a run-of-the-mill outing didn't generate enough interest in any.