Riddles of the Past
Year Published: 2015
Publisher: RunServer
Developer: Far Mills, MysteryTag

Riddles of the Past is a hidden object game in the "Explore an Abandoned Town" subgenre that is simply too similar to many better games on the market to seriously recommend, despite having exactly two features that stand out. The first is that it eschews traditional hidden object scenes in favor of the Mountain Crime: Requital approach of finding several small items that you use to repair or open one larger thing. The second are the amazing 3D comic book-style cutscenes that tell the game's story - what little there is of one.

Riverside's looking mighty abandoned lately.

It begins when Emily, who has lived with amnesia for several years, finds some clues to her past. They lead her to a generic American 60's town called "Riverside". But when Emily arrives, Riverside is mostly rundown and abandoned, with only a few strange robots lurking about. Since Riddles of the Past's plot is nearly threadbare, to tell you anything more than this would be to spoil it entirely.

It's not that the artwork isn't pretty and competent - it is. But it looks so similar to so many other HOG's out there, that if the developers had instead made the whole game look like the cutscenes, it would have at least stood out. Exploring creepy abandoned places has its appeal, but this concept was done so much better in games like Dark Heritage, The Lake House, and The Last Dream. Riddles of the Past feels like a prototype.

These cutscenes look amazing - I wish the whole game did.

The puzzles range from so-so to head-scratching, and not for the reasons you think. One of them is a series of math problems, but you don't have to even try solving any of them. When you set the dial to the right number, the game tells you. I guess that's okay because I would've just used my calculator anyway, but then why such a puzzle was included is beyond me. At least it's not as bad as the final puzzle, which I could best describe as an exercise in enduring an annoying clicking sound while waiting.

Another baffling element of Riddles of the Past is Emily's hint system - a (toy?) dog whose strange design, animation cycle, and constant whimpering are tremendously annoying. I never once felt compelled to use the thing since the game is so easy, and even if you do get stuck, the map hints are sufficient.

This place isn't safe, but I've somehow managed to avoid being caught by evil robots until now.

Sometimes I hate being hard on games made by small developers, but they didn't leave me much to work with here. I look at the year of this game - 2015. For games about exploring abandoned towns, Dark Heritage was 2012, and for games about giant robots and mad scientists, Clockwork Tales and Namariel Legends were both 2013. 2015 is too late in the game for me to go easy on this one.

SCORE: 2/5



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