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Dark Arcana: The Carnival

Score: 91%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Artifex Mundi
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle (Hidden Object)/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

I really enjoyed the graphics in Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD: Collectorís Edition. They were creepy, eerie and had just the right amount of edge to them. As a police detective, youíll travel through a carnival with a dark side, in search of a missing woman named Susan who vanished while visiting the carnival with her young daughter. Youíll not only explore the decaying carnival, but youíll also be transported to an alternate plane, where evil lurks at every turn and youíll find assistance in the most unexpected acquaintances.

The music in Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD is appropriately sing-song, like youíd expect to hear at a carnival. However, at times, it changes such that it sounds somewhat "off" and itís just enough to creep you out. Overall, the voice work is pretty good, but the mouths arenít quite in sync with the audio, so it can be a bit off-putting.


Gameplay:

Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD: Collectorís Edition plays out like a typical adventure game, with you searching through areas of the carnival and picking up items along the way to help you find the missing woman, Susan Jones. Sometimes, while you are investigating a particular area, youíll see a spot that sparkles and this indicates thereís a hidden object scene to be completed. Finishing the hidden object scene will always yield an item that youíll need to progress the story. If you get bored with searching for hidden objects, you can opt to complete the scene by playing a game of Monaco, which is a matching type game similar to Mahjong. I must admit that I almost always ended up completing the hidden object scenes by playing Monaco because it got me through the scene quicker. Itís not that the hidden object scenes werenít fun, but I seemed to enjoy the games of Monaco more.

A really clever and interesting mechanic introduced has to do with a small carnival monkey that you meet early on in the game. Once you have befriended him, you can click on him when you locate items that are out of your reach and he will go retrieve them for you. I thought this was a unique way to handle giving the player an assist, while still keeping it within the context of the carnival-based story.


Difficulty:

I didnít find Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD: Collectorís Edition any more difficult than the standard adventure game with hidden object scenes sprinkled throughout. I will admit, however, that it took me a little bit of time to get my stride with the game, since I am not a big adventure fan. If you get stuck, the game provides a nicely detailed Strategy Guide that is basically a walk-through complete with screenshots to help you on your way. While I consulted it a bit in the beginning, once I got into the groove, I didnít need it any further.

Some of the items hidden within the hidden object scenes can be a bit tricky. If the words are colored in blue, it means youíll have to do something extra to locate the items, such as look in a drawer or put an item together to create the needed item. Also, the number of items you have left in your list to find will dictate how long and how difficult your game of Monaco will be, should you choose to switch to Monaco from hidden object. So I recommend finding as many hidden objects as you can and then when you get stuck, wrap it up quickly with a rousing game of Monaco, complete with carnival-based tiles.


Game Mechanics:

Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD: Collectorís Editionís game mechanics are basic and straight-forward. Youíll tap to pick up items and interact with things and tap to clear hidden object items from the scene. Youíll come across the occasional puzzle that youíll have to solve, all perfectly fitting the creepy carnival theme, but mostly youíll be finding items to further your quest and using your noggin to get out of the carnival alive. There are some pretty dark themes in Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD, though so itís not one for young kids. Demonic forces, corpses, deranged spouses and arcane rituals are all present as themes of this story, but itís a really compelling tale that will keep you hooked until the end. In fact, the Collectorís Edition includes a Bonus Adventure that allows you to continue the story with side characters, once you have completed the main mission, which was very cool.

Overall, Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD: Collectorís Edition is one of my favorite adventure/hidden object games that Iíve played to date. If you like adventure, especially with a dash of hidden object, you should do yourself a favor and check out Dark Arcana: The Carnival HD: Collectorís Edition.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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