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If the mere thought of a hidden object game makes your eyes water, then do not read any further. If, however, this kind of challenge does appeal to you, you’ve come to the right place. Most gaming stores now have entire shelves or stands dedicated to this genre of PC games. The general idea is to spot objects in a scene and solve various puzzles.

We’ve had a look at three such games from Big Fish that each approach the genre in their own way. The first is Awakening – The Dreamless Castle.

In this game, you find yourself, as the name suggests, in a fantasy castle. You are a beautiful princess who has just awoken from a long slumber. There are numerous fairies and goblins to help you as you explore the castle, but it’s up to you to unravel the mystery of what has happened to you and why. It won’t win any awards, but the story might keep you intrigued for the few hours you spend playing the game.

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The look of the game is surprisingly attractive. The graphics are done in a painting style, so you really get the feeling that you’ve stumbled into a fairy tale. Some of the scenes are really quite beautiful. Each object you pick up looks like it belongs in the world of the castle, and fits neatly into the scene (making it quite difficult to spot sometimes). While it is not a widescreen game, it does seem to have a somewhat higher resolution that some of the other games. The sounds are quite nice as well, but the background music, while nice to listen to at first, has little variation and so gets a bit old after a while.

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Awakening has very few scenes that are just packed with random objects you need to pick up. Most scenes have a series of problems that need to be fixed so you can proceed. For instance, a mirror that is dirty, so you need to find a handkerchief, or a goblin that is hungry, so you must cook him dinner. This makes you feel a bit more like you’re collecting useful rather than arbitrary items.

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If you start to get worn out from all the squinting at the screen, there are hints available to you at any time, though there is a short recharge time between the availability of hints. Unfortunately, if you’ve missed something in another room, you have to go back there to get an appropriate hint. On the plus side, the game lets you go back and forth freely between all the rooms you’ve already explored. And no, you can’t just click randomly across the screen in the hopes of landing on an object. The game takes control of your mouse for a second or two if you try to do this.

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In addition to simply searching for objects, you are required to solve a number of small puzzles, which can range from actual puzzles, to arranging objects in a sequence, to repeating notes in order. Fortunately, the games gives you a journal which keeps track of important things you’ve seen, meaning when you get to an odd puzzle, you might find the answer in your journal from something you spotted three rooms back. As an added bonus, you have the option to skip puzzles if you wait a little while.

Another nice feature of the game is ‘Goblinjong’, which is just their name for Mahjong, the matching tiles game. While the in-game levels are quite easy, finishing the game unlocks more levels that you can play in order of increasing difficulty. Completing each one gives you a little snippet of story trivia as a reward and unlocks the next level. If you enjoy Mahjong, this will be a welcome break for you.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 5/10

The game runs well, and doesn’t even need a CD, which is always nice. Selecting objects is quite accurate, and the puzzles work well. It’s easy to pick up for a few minutes, collect a few objects and solve a puzzle or two, then come back to later.

Design and Presentation: 6/10

The artwork is really pretty, and every aspect of the interface matches the theme, making for an attractive game.

Value: 4/10

This game will at most keep you going for a couple of hours, depending how long you flounder on the various puzzles, but replaying the game is exactly the same, so there’s little value there except perhaps for speed runs. The extra Goblinjong levels give you a little more to do, but that’s it. On the other hand, the game is not too expensive, but it is still very short.

Overall: 4/10

If hidden object games and fairy tale princesses appeal to you, you may enjoy this game. So great for your kids, not so much for you.

Last Updated: January 16, 2012

Awakening: The Dreamless Castle
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