Passionfruit Games‘ first title, Tiger Eye Curse Of The Riddle Box> is out this week. This new game blends casual adventure gameplay with the paranormal romance novel Tiger Eye by Majorie M. Liu. I was in the beta last month, so I was excited to see the finished game.
Players take on the role of Dela, a psychic metalsmith who’s visiting Beijing when she stumbles upon a magical puzzle box with an enslaved tiger-man inside. (Sorry, family, all I brought you from Beijing was scarves and pajamas.) As players solve the mysteries as Dela, Tiger Eye blends hidden object environments with puzzles. I’m not enthralled with HO gameplay in general — there are only so many times you can find and reassemble a note or pry open a door with a conveniently-placed crowbar — but the hidden object scenes do follow the story.
The puzzles really shine, blending match-three, spacial relations puzzles, codebreaking, and other minigames for engaging gameplay. Tiger Eye adds to the usual simplistic jigsaw puzzle. The puzzles here aren’t square, so no looking for corners and edge pieces, and the edges of the pieces don’t follow a regular grid or jigsaw pattern, so you can’t see if you’ve left a decent shape between pieces. There’s also an ideogram-matching puzzle, using some of the basic radicals and stylized pictures of the definition.
Someone was supposed to fix the shower? Hey, that happened to me in Beijing, too!
I’m always impressed when real Chinese characters are used any place that pretty red squiggles would have done just as well. I couldn’t read everything in the environments, but it was great to see “dragon woman” written over a shop doorway and recognize other words throughout the games. My hours upon hours with ChinesePod (Tip: Don’t ask me what level I am now. It’s quite sad.) brought in-game foreshadowing and huge excitement!
The setting was gorgeous, the puzzles were varied and engaging, the HO scenes and minigames followed the story logically, and the protagonist had clear motivations. Tiger Eye had everything I’d ask for in a HO adventure. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by a couple of the usual romance-novel cliches and a shovel-faced heartthrob in what’s otherwise a great game.