I found myself begrudgingly pushing forth until I got to the end
Voodoo Chronicles is a hidden object game (subsequently referred to as HoG) in which you work as a detective trying to solve a supernatural murder mystery. As James Voodoo, P.I., you’ll point and click around over 40 different screens in order to find clues to further the investigation. The game was originally developed by Space Monkey International and comes to the PlayStation Network thanks to publisher Sanuk Games. Sanuk’s been publishing PSN games for quite some time, and they even brought us that minis HoG that I so highly reviewed! I can’t say Voodoo Chronicles grabbed me nearly as much as Actual Crimes, believe it or not. Though I was excited for it before its release, I found myself begrudgingly pushing forth until I got to the end. I can say that the game works (for the most part), and that if you’ve played a HoG before, you know what you’re getting into.
The gameplay slaloms back and forth between screens of finding clues, finding lists of random items, or solving puzzles. The clue-finding sections of the game play somewhat like an adventure game. Usually, you have a problem (Kitty looks hungry) that’s aggravated by another problem (the cabinet containing her food is locked), and you have to find items (a key, in this example) to allow you to progress in the story. Items of interest sometimes sparkle in order to give you some direction. Hints like this are less of an underestimation of the player’s skill and more of an accommodation to prod you forward. The screens are jam-packed with items, so finding that cabinet key is sometimes near-impossible without a little aid. The random item list sections are what HoG players are probably most familiar with. Click an item that’s surrounded by floating question marks and you’ll be brought to a screen scattered with about one million and a half items. A list on the right side tells you what you need to find, and one item in the lot will usually be used outside to help the story forward. There’s a hint machine that will reveal items’ locations if you’re having trouble finding snowdrops, a cone, and/or a wet cat. Every once in a while there are puzzles that break up the find-and-click gameplay. For instance, there’s a pipe-rotating puzzle in which you have to get water flowing from one side of the screen to the other. Most of the puzzles are made more difficult by the fact that there are no directions given to you upon starting the puzzle. You can click a button near the bottom-right corner of the screen to get some info, but even those descriptions are vague and unhelpful. Completing puzzles will net you trophies and hint machine charges. There’s a multiplayer mode that consists of two people searching for one list of items at the same time. There are no statistics, limitations on clicks, or any other fun bells or whistles to this mode, just a plain old two-cursor point and click-fest.
The graphics in the game are decent. The cut-scenes are laughable, but by and large the various screens look good. Whenever something is in motion on screen, though, the game’s graphical shortcomings are underscored. The dialogue and audio in general sometimes doesn’t match up with what’s going on on-screen. During the opening sequence, the narrator’s words are at odds with what you’re reading, and one or two times throughout the game a character’s dialogue box didn’t match up with the audio clip. Otherwise, the music is actually very enjoyable; there are several different jazzy tracks that loop while you’re clicking around. The story is probably the game’s highlight, but for some reason it’s not explicitly told. Voodoo keeps a diary that can be flipped through if you click near the bottom left of the screen. Almost all of the game’s plot is outlined in this diary, but you’re never actually prompted to look through it. I had a vague idea of what was going on through newspapers strewn about and by listening to the dialogue, but it wasn’t until I read the diary passages that I understood everything.
Near the end of the game, a wisecracking floating shrunken head is introduced as your sidekick. There’s a section where you have to take down a giant city-wrecking octopus, and a couple of the later puzzles are very fun. I can’t help but to think the game would be much more enjoyable if these things were brought in earlier. As it stands, Voodoo Chronicles is sometimes a trial of patience. The game loads between every single screen, and although each loading screen only lasts 3-5 seconds, they occur very frequently. For example, there’s a part in the game where you have to get a glass of water for a fainted woman on a train car. To leave her train car, enter your train car, get the water, leave your train car, and then re-enter hers, you’ll have to sit through four loading screens. Another irksome point of the game is that in all portions of the game, it’s often unclear what you’re supposed to be looking for/clicking/doing. There were many times when I just randomly clicked around until I happened to select a portion of a wall that turned into a secret passageway or something. The game is not short, but it’s made much longer by the fact that it’s not particularly fun. It’s set at a good price point, as most Sanuk-published games are, so if you enjoy HoGs and would like to give this a spin despite my review, by all means, go for it. Just don’t blame me if you fall asleep while searching for a bundle of dynamite on a crashed blimp.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
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Developer:Space Monkey International
Release Date:April 2013