Also On: PC
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Let's be realistic here: there's not a whole lot of variety when it comes to Hidden Object Games. There are only so many ways you can contrive to have people searching through scenes for oddly-placed rings and violins and suns, after all — and I say this as someone who's actually pretty fond of the genre. Almost without exception, the games all follow the exact same template: a mysterious story, a couple of go-to locations, some puzzles, and some very poorly-acted and poorly-made cutscenes.
Needless to say, Twisted Lands: Shadow Town doesn't go out of its way to break that mold. In fact, it fits so squarely within it, the review I wrote for Mountain Crime: Requital a few months ago could almost be pasted word-for-word here. The cutscenes are almost as hilariously bad, the hidden object scenes are almost as well made, and, on the whole, it's almost the same game.
Almost…but not quite. See, since the games themselves are pretty much all the same, you need to look a little deeper at certain aspects in order to determine whether individual ones are any good. And it's here that Twisted Lands falls a little short.
Most notably, the mysterious story barely makes any sense. I know it's just a means to the end of making players search for stuff, but at the same time, even after playing all the way through — including the bonus chapter! — and even after reviewing the notes the game keeps for you, I still barely know what happened. There was…a shipwreck? And a virus(?) that turned people into monsters? And some pregnant woman who got walled up inside her grave? I may have spoiled a key story point in there somewhere there, but it's a sign of just how convoluted Twisted Land's plot is that I have no freaking idea.
As for the rest — again, it's almost at the level of Mountain Crime, but not quite. A few scenes here and there have too many shadows, making certain objects almost unfindable. Likewise, some objects are a little too well hidden, to the point I still didn't see them even after using a clue. And, to round things out, finding some of those objects requires a little more precision than you'll usually get from a DualShock 3 controller — though, really, that's more likely to be a concern for trophy hunters than anyone else, as one of the trophies calls for completing a scene without a mistake, and that's made significantly harder when you need to grab a stalk of wheat or a flower hidden behind the spokes of a bike wheel.
On a slightly more serious note, I should probably also mention that I had a very slight problem with crashes. It only happened in one spot, and that was during the game's bonus chapter, but if you're concerned about that sort of thing, be aware that it does, in certain circumstances, rear its ugly head.
On the whole, however, it's hard to get too upset about any of these issues. After all, the flipside of the genre's limitations is that it's awfully hard to make an outright terrible Hidden Object Game, and Twisted Land: Shadow Town is clearly not terrible. It may be best enjoyed by PS3-owning HOG fans eager for more of those games on the console — in other words: possibly only me — but if you're a fan of the genre, at least know that you'll be getting your money's worth.