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Darkness and Flame: The Dark Side, this time, the dark side doesn’t have cookies.

Purchased: For free on Steam
Achievements: Yes
DLC: No

The only dark side to this game is the coin-based system. If you run out of coins, which give you hints, you’ll notice there’s a payment option to gain more. I mean, free to play games usually add something like this, but I didn’t expect to see it in a hidden object game.

There’s a bonus game once you beat the main storyline, but it costs 30 coins to unlock.

Pros:

  • Variety of puzzles and hidden object scenes
  • Decent graphics–cinematics and all

Cons:

  • Payment for hint system
  • Animations aren’t the best
  • Voice acting lacks emotion
  • Lots of back-tracking

Navigation

There are a ton of areas to get through in this game, but don’t let that freak you out, because they do give you a map so you can fast-travel from place to place. I actually never realized there was a map system in play until I had to use a hint.

That’s what happens when I don’t look at the tutorial, I guess.

While it’s perfectly natural to go back and forth in a hidden object game, this one goes quite a good distance into the game before you need to jump back to near the start for something. So if you stop playing the game for a bit, or aren’t good with remembering where things are, it might be a little rough with running around everywhere.

Graphics

This is a pretty story-driven game (as with most of HoGs, obviously), and it’s different from others that I’ve played in the fact that it has a lot more cutscenes and cinematics. It’s pretty engaging to me.

That said, while the graphics in these cutscenes aren’t beautiful, they aren’t terrible. The only bad thing is the lip-sync. There’s not much to be had there. The mouths kind of open and close when words are happening.

The backgrounds and still scenes themselves are nice to look at. Nothing was too difficult to find.

Gameplay

The game goes pretty smoothly. Nothing was too rough to figure out or anything…until around the middle. One puzzle tripped me up and I just couldn’t get it right. So when I tried to skip, I came across the worst thing to see in a game you’re enjoying–a payment area.

You get so many free coins that you can collect after so many minutes, and once they’re used up, find yourself a walkthrough if you’re stuck.

Personally, I didn’t have that much trouble. But I will say after seeing the payment area, I lost a lot of motivation to even play the game.

I also felt like the ending ended rather abruptly. I would’ve liked to learn more, but I think it was mentioned that this game came after another, so maybe it’s a continuation and all of it’ll make sense when played together.

One part I didn’t like in the game is the usage of items. You get an item you can use for one area, but you can’t use it for that area, because you have to use it elsewhere. Then later you get the same item to use in the area you could’ve used the other.

Does that make sense?

It didn’t to me, either.

Audio

The background music isn’t a bad thing to listen to. It never felt like too much to my ears and didn’t seem to ever not fit in with the game, but sometimes I’m so focused on solving something I tune out sound anyway.

The voice acting is another story.

It’s not bad, but it’s not great. The voices seem to fit all the characters just fine, but how they say their lines isn’t believable. There’s no emotion to their voices; no conviction or urgency or fear. They sound the same every time they talk.

Like they’re reading from a script, but not with completely dead emotion. Just not really there.

Overall

If you’re good at solving puzzles–which many of them were easy enough–and you have enough time on your hands to figure everything out, then sure, I’d recommend the game.

If you’re scarce on time and get annoyed by puzzle games and finding things in a scene to continue forward and don’t want to pay money to have enough coins for hints, then you should walk away.

Darkness and Flame is a decently long game for an HoG, I feel. If you have to constantly stop playing, then you may forget where areas are, as the backtracking is real.

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