Mystery Castle: The Mirror's Secret (Platinum Edition)
Year Published: 2014
Publisher: 1C Entertainment
Developer: Meridian 93

When I started up Mystery Castle: The Mirror's Secret, I was reminded of another hidden object game with a very similar title, The Mirror Mysteries. In the latter game, a mother and her two children are randomly driving around and stop to picnic on the lawn of a random house. The children enter the house and disappear into a magical mirror that breaks into pieces. The mother travels into several other magic mirrors to reassemble the main mirror and save her kids.

In Mystery Castle, a mother is once again randomly wandering around with her daughter and decides to stop on the lawn of a random castle. An evil wizard of sorts named Grot appears from the castle and whisks her child off to it. When the mother chases after them, she also finds a shattered mirror, but travels into paintings to find its lost shards and save her daughter. Since this is now the second time I have seen this same exact plot in a hidden object game, and in both cases it was neither fun nor compelling, I am hoping I do not come across it a third time.

Too bad you never learn who this creature is or why he was here.

Where Mystery Castle differs from many modern HOGs is that once you enter a room of the castle, you are stuck on that screen until you have completed every available task, save for the optional ones of finding morphing objects (I did not bother finding all of these - with no achievements, I just didn't care). While every screen has multiple areas you can zoom in on, and this may placate players who dislike "wandering back and forth" in HOGs, it's something many reviews of this title have complained about, and I may not have minded it myself if it hadn't stuck so rigidily to a formula for each room that by the end I was finding it tedious and boring.

Every room has a character who's been turned into a ghost by Grot. Every ghost needs you to solve a puzzle so they can be set free. So, you pitter about the room until you've accomplished that, the ghost leaves, and you move onto the next room. All ghosts have voice acting spoken over top of written dialogue that never quite matches up, and both are filled with poor grammar. I guess we know the musician is that because he constantly namedrops the most famous classical composers everyone knows, and we know the Italian chef is that because of his stereotypical accent. What we don't know is exactly why Grot is turning people into ghosts, what that does for him, and why he wants your daughter so badly and doesn't just turn you into a ghost, too. Hooray for the hidden object genre, where the protagonist is almost always completely but inexplicably invincible.

Impressive tin soldiers, just not an impressive game.

The game begins with some very impressive artwork and animation in the first few rooms. You start in a dungeon with intricate skeletal columns and a mysterious orc-like creature chained to the walls. You rescue him, but learn nothing about him, then you're transported into a child's play room that has some of the most detailed and whimsical toy designs I've ever seen. If I filled this review with images from this room, I feel I'd be misleading my readers as it becomes abundantly clear that the game cannot keep up this level of quality. The next area is a music room that has, again, some amazing artwork and a creepy, but well-animated robotic orchestra. But beyond that, the scenery begins devolving into greater levels of mundaneness, ie, a kitchen, a bedroom, a strangely bland garden. I am also unclear as to why this game is dubbed "Platinum Edition", since there is no bonus content.

The ghostly musician knows his composers, but nothing else.

One final word of warning is that if you do decide to play Mystery Castle, many players have reported a bug on the final scene where if you don't gather all items and solve all puzzles before placing the skulls, the scene becomes impossible to finish. So, take heed and don't place any skulls until you're out of other things to do, because trust me, you're not going to want to play through this game again.

SCORE: 1.5/5



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