I recently heard about Ancient Secrets over on GameHouse. You play as Kate, a young archeologist, who is following her father’s footsteps in the search for the lost key of the Tekka. Kate needs to gather solves puzzles to gather clues to find pieces of the key. I kind of wish my dad would get some ancient artifacts and leave an worldwide treasure hunt, but, Dad, you probably shouldn’t rely on my Latin skills.
Lots of Ancient Secrets was, annoyingly, the kind of hidden object game that I don’t like. The good kind is the cluttered room sort of hidden objects, where the edge of a dagger might be visible where the area rug meets the hardwood floor, or a piece of a treasure map between two books.
The annoying kind is the same search only you’ll find the outline of some unrelated object, in beige in the sand or in green in the jungle. I don’t know the terminology for the difference, or even if there is terminology. Maybe other people don’t differenciate between searching for clues in a cluttered room, and the annoying Highlights For Children object find.
This was even more of a letdown because some of the settings would have been perfect for clue-finding hidden objects, and some of the puzzles even had a few clues in with the Highlights ones. I was excited every time Kate traveled to a new location because the settings were just so pretty. And I was even more of a kleptomaniac that usual because the stylized inventory icons were so cute.
The various minigames kept me entertained without ever frustrating me. They tended towards too easy, instead of too hard, fortunately the variety of game types kept it from becoming repetitive.
The story is engaging, but once I was pulled into the story of young Kate trying to complete her father’s life work, the collection missions and searches seemed a bit anti-climactic.
The NPCs were all good characters, with interesting accents or speech patterns or personality quirks. The conversations were forced, as Kate never gets to choose what to say. Talking to NPCs, where the conversational choice has some sort of effect on the outcome, really makes a good game to me. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t like where there is only one option possible in order for the game to progress, and I liked Ancient Secrets even less because Kate didn’t get any choices. I’m not interested in clicking OK and going on with the missions, I even read the quest test in World Of WarCraft. Probably a holdover from years of text-based games.
Ancient Secrets was the Applebee’s of casual games. Applebee’s is solid, there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing to make it stand out amid all the competition. I was left a bit disappointed, because I thought the backstory could have lent itself to something even better.