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Downtown Secrets: Ring of Shadows

Score: 80%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: I-play
Developer: Oberon Media
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

In a market where more and more adventure/hidden object games are starting to appear, it becomes hard to find elements of each one that truly stand out. Downtown Secrets: Ring of Shadows offers a few interesting gameplay twists that keep it from blending into the background noise as much as the other games I've reviewed lately.

The game has a very noir feel to it as you go from location to location around the dark city, trying to solve this strange case that seems to have thrust itself upon you. The outside locations tend to be at night and have a definite gloomy appearance to them, while even the interior scenes, though brightly lit, still seem to have that same dark characteristic to them.

Downtown Secret's mood is set even more firmly by the game's background music that just adds to the overall noir feel. There aren't any voiceovers in the game, but you can almost hear your character's internal dialogue as he goes through the facts he has just learned from a particular scene.

Mechanics-wise, there isn't anything outwardly impressive by the game's presentation. The images are static, the dialogue is just text on the screen and all you really do is click around. Heck, the most complex animation that really happens is when a person fades in or out of the scene because they walked on set. Even though that is the case, it still feels like it has more substance than other adventure/hidden object blends I've played in the past few months.


Downtown Secrets: Ring of Shadows's story is intriguing enough to keep you jumping from one hidden object screen to the next. You play a lawyer who is contacted by an old lover who seems to be a suspect in a murder investigation. When you go to prison to offer legal council, she merely tells you that you need to go to a common friend and look for something she left you. She then dismisses you as her council and decides not to see you anymore ... again.

As you start investigating the murder and the scenes where Maria, the now former-client, wants you to go, you discover a strange ring. This ring apparently gives you the ability to see glimpses into the past, and with that, your investigation, which started off at a nice pace, quickly picks up speed.

Where most games that have come out recently that blend these two genres try to balance the two aspects evenly, Ring of Shadows leans much more on the hidden object side of things. There are some puzzles in the game, but for the most part, you will find yourself with a static image and a list of items to click on. This list is represented as your cell phone in the lower right corner of the screen. An interesting twist found in this game is that it doesn't show you the whole list up front. Instead, you only see six items. Once you've found an item, it is replaced by one of the others that needs to be found. This is an interesting way to slowly dole out hidden objects, and I found it quite helpful. I found myself typically able to hunt down the last few pieces in a scene much faster than normal because I spent a lot of time looking for other pieces and when an object shows up later in the list, I can typically click on it immediately having seen it many times while looking for earlier objects.


Downtown Secrets: Ring of Shadows is pretty well balanced as far as difficulty is concerned. I found myself able to get through pretty much every screen without much trouble, but in almost every screen, I had to click on the HINT button in order to find at least one object that was eluding me. More times than not, I felt like I wouldn't have seen the hidden object without the HINT button, but never really felt cheated in the object's placement either. Of course, there were a couple of times when the object I was looking for was placed in the least likely location (i.e. an envelope on the ceiling), but a vast majority of the objects are hidden quite well in plain sight. I've always preferred that style over the hidden object games that will make the shape of what you are looking for a part of the image itself (i.e. a wrench outlined in a leaf, or a heart in some leaves).

Game Mechanics:

As I said before, Downtown Secrets: Ring of Shadows leans more on the hidden objects side of things than other games that try and blend the genre with point-and-click adventures. For the most part, you will be clicking around the room finding objects on your list. One of the ways this game stands out is that there is often one or more areas of the room that you can zoom into and get a closer look at a collection of items, a lot of which you will typically find on your list.

In fact, I found the best tactic for times when I was stuck was to essentially pixel hunt around the screen looking for my cursor to turn into a spy glass which means I can zoom in and have a closer look at something. Granted, the biggest problem with this is the fact that you have to pixel hunt, but at times, it is either that or click on the HINT button and it will either show you where an item is, or where a location you can zoom into is.

Downtown Secrets: Ring of Shadows is a nice, challenging game that has a story that kept me pretty well involved all the way through. There were a few points where I felt like I could easily break away from the game, but most of it was compelling enough to make me want to go from screen to screen without much pause. This game is worth at least the trial download for any fan of the hidden object genre.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, 600 MHz processor speed, 256 MB RAM, 104 Mb HD Space, 32 MB VRAM 16 or 32-bit Video Card, 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card, DirectX 8.1

Test System:

Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated