Focus Multimedia – Vampire Saga: Pandora’s Box review

spooky casual adventure game
Photo of Focus Multimedia – Vampire Saga: Pandora’s Box
£9.99

If you like playing computer games that you can dip in and out of, that provide you with a few brain teasers along the way and that add an unexpected twist at the end without taking days to complete, then the latest so-called ‘casual’ adventure from Focus Multimedia will probably suit the bill admirably.

The story is straight out of the spooky mystery tradition of H.P. Lovecraft, with young man Tyler Ward receiving a phone call in 1950s Boston from his grandfather Matthew who claims to have just killed a woman. When he arrives at the house to investigate, Tyler finds the place wrecked and the bedroom boarded up, but he gradually persuades Matthew to tell his story.

Most of the tale is then related in flashback to the time when Matthew was a young stowaway on the cargo ship Pandora escaping the Spanish-American War. On board are several coffins and a number of dead crewmen, including the captain, and it’s up to you to fathom out what horror is at the root of the drama and how to avoid a greater catastrophe. There’s one surviving woman on the ship and a number of seemingly supernatural visions occur before the enigma is finally unravelled.

If you’re not familiar with the ‘hidden object’ style of adventure gaming, the gameplay involves moving from location to location (mostly, in this case, through rooms in Matthew’s house and around the Pandora) and clicking on a highlighted part of the screen.

You then have to find twelve concealed items, one of which is vital to progressing the story, before using the items in your inventory to open locks, create machines, do repairs, etc. Some of the descriptions of the hidden items are peculiar and some are so thoroughly hidden under other objects that you may find yourself shouting at the screen in frustration.

The graphics are fairly basic and the few ‘animated’ sequences are more like speeded up slide shows. As this is not intended to be overly challenging, there’s a helpful hint system which highlights objects, reveals when you’re in the wrong place and even lets you skip difficult puzzles.

Although most of the time you can figure out what to do without doing too much head scratching, you may find the constant returning to the same locations tedious after a while. However, for less than £10 you have a reasonably engaging Gothic story with a few quite tricky puzzles to solve that will provide a welcome break from a hard day at the office.

Company: Focus Multimedia


Verdict
Although this casual adventure has mostly static, uninspiring graphics and limited locations, there's an engagingly creepy storyline and plenty to appeal to those who love finding hidden objects.