Mysteries of the Past: Shadow of the Daemon (Collector's Edition)
Year Published: 2015
Publisher: Blue Brain Games
Developer: Blue Brain Games
I'm writing this review on October 22, 2022, and Mysteries of the Past: Shadow of the Daemon was delisted from Steam on October 18, just a few days earlier. The publisher cited the age of the game (2015) and said it might have future compatability issues. Many comments suggested this makes little sense as it runs fine on Windows 11. I suppose I should just take the publisher's word for it, but I'm kinda wondering if the game's potentially offensive Native American stereotype had anything to do with that decision.
You don't need a detective, you need a gardener.
As Detective Jane Morrison, you've been called to investigate a recent kidnapping at the Big Pine Lodge, which seems to be a resort for hikers. You're not there long before it's revealed a demon that looks like the Lost smoke monster wearing a skull mask is involved. As you poke around the lodge for clues, mysterious messages appear on the walls and floors warning you to "get out". What follows is a series of HOG puzzles and cliches - one of the first you encounter is the age-old classic where a key is stuck in a keyhole and you put newspaper under the door.
The hidden object scenes have some weird issues. Some items are hidden behind others, so you'll click one thing on the list and get another because it was obscured behind it. Some scenes have sunlight that blooms in and out, making it difficult to see what you're looking at. Sometimes the logic is nonsensical - example: A hidden object scene begins with four locks in your inventory and you look for four keys. But why do you have locks on your person? Often you receive an item from an HO scene that you didn't actually find in the scene.
Yup, it's a Smoke Monster.
I appreciate the attempts at variety by having you sometimes put items back where they belong in the room (which makes me wonder if the real reason the detective was called was to be an unpaid maid). I just ask that they make some kind of sense. Even less sensical is that the story ends abruptly, but then picks up in the Bonus Chapter, suggesting that previous non-Collector's Edition versions of the game ended on a cliffhanger. That's not typically how bonus chapters work, as they usually are a sidestory not directly related to the main story's resolution.
And the puzzles...are pretty much all things you've seen before if you've played enough HOG's.
Future compatability, for sure.
One curious option the game provides is to have your character talk in the cutscenes or remain silent, seemingly like an answer to my complaint that some HOG protagonists have such awful voice acting and dialogue that I can't get into their roles and would've preferred they remained silent. Ironically, however, Jane is the one character in this game whose voice acting didn't bother me. I can give a pass to the old man, and his assistant, and the kid, because I get that small devs can't afford professional voice actors. But that leads me to that Native American stereotype I mentioned...
He's a Shaman who lives in a treehouse (which looks like an ordinary child's treehouse), has magical powers, a pet raven, and is wearing face paint. I am not certain if this alone is considered "offensive", but it's his voice that's the problem. The actor is clearly trying to sound the way "Indian Chiefs" sounded in old movies, but failing miserably and is closer to someone doing a William Shatner impression. Like I said, I'll take the publisher's word for it, but I think the game has more potential for compatibility issues with the changing social times than with future Windows updates.
The Millers were here and left a mess for you to clean up. Happy times.
So, you can't buy the game anymore. Are you missing much? Nah, not really. It's just a standard HOG with some pretty artwork that will keep you occupied for a few hours, but the same can be said of any of the games I've reviewed with a 2.5 score or higher. Play one of those instead.