Game: Twisted Lands: Shadow Town
Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: September 23, 2010
Rated: T – for Teen
Alawar Entertainment’s newest release Twisted Lands: Shadow Town is the first installment in a new saga that will introduce an unparalleled level of horror to the casual genre. The Collector’s Edition is available for PC exclusively from Alawar and Big Fish Games for $19.95. Players can get a free trial version to experience the opening chapters of the hair-raising horror quest.
Intended for mature players, Twisted Lands: Shadow Town is a downloadable hidden object game set on a seemingly deserted island shrouded in dark secrets. Players assume the role of a desperate man searching for his wife, who disappeared when their small boat capsized nearby. As he tries to find her, he becomes increasingly aware of the unusual circumstances that led to the disappearance of the island’s previous inhabitants — and ever more vulnerable to the evil that consumed them.
The Collector’s Edition’s special features include a built-in strategy guide and a bonus chapter that can only be unlocked after the main scenario is completed. After piecing together the island’s fate in the standard game, Collector’s Edition players will enjoy about 25% more gameplay as they try to stay one step ahead of a bloodthirsty horde while attempting to escape from the island. In both scenarios, the player must gather hidden items, solve mind-bending puzzles, and make one spine-chilling discovery after another.
I found this game to be highly entertaining for one main reason: it reminded me of the computer games I used to play as a kid back in the early ’90s, specifically the game The 13th Guest. It mixes computer graphics with live action images and cut scenes, which really pushes the early CD-ROM game vibe it has going. The story wasn’t that clear to me, but I’m not sure exactly how important it really is for a game of this nature. This is a puzzle game and, for me, the difficulty and enjoyment level of the puzzles were more important than whether or not I fully got what the story was about. I think the holes in the story were because a few of the cut scenes on my copy were a little dodgy and would freeze up and then skip to the next part of the game. However, like I said, this didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of figuring out the puzzles and beating the game — it just made the ending a bit of a head-scratcher.
The puzzles were fun. I found them to be in the Goldilocks Zone (not too easy, not too hard), and again Alawar gets a thumbs up from me because I can’t tell you the last time I actually had to get out a pen and paper to map things out or write down notes for future puzzles or to get through a forest without going in circles. That’s a big part of the nostalgia factor this game hit for me; I was big into making my own notes and maps and it was nice to fall back into that for a couple of hours. In the event that other players aren’t as nerdy as I am in this regard, the game does have a “hint” feature that comes in handy (especially if you’re like me and you can’t find the object that’s right in front of your face on the screen).
The only issue I had with the puzzles (especially the ones like the picture above) was that a lot of the time I would be clicking on an object and the game wouldn’t recognize it as the object I was supposed to pick up. If that’s because I hadn’t clicked on the right area of the object or if it’s a glitch in the game, I’m not sure, but that was the one thing that got aggravating as the game went on.
Overall, Twisted Lands: Shadow Town grabbed my attention and held it until I figured out all the puzzles, and it was a good way to keep my brain active. I haven’t played the bonus chapter yet, but I’m looking forward to mastering the puzzles in that as well as going back to the main story to see if I found everything I needed to find. I’m still curious if I missed something that would clear up the story a little more for me.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars