Review: Chronicles of Mystery for the iPhone = Hidden Pictures for Grown-Ups

Geek Culture

Chronicles of MysteryChronicles of Mystery

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple is a hidden-pictures game combined with a mystery plotline and various mini-games. It was originally a PC game (previously titled Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual) but has been re-designed for the iPhone and Nintendo DS. Sylvie Leroux is an archaeologist whose historian uncle has gone missing. Your goal is to find items, use them to solve puzzles, and search for the missing uncle.

I haven’t played the original, but I was a bit disappointed with Chronicles of Mystery. I do like playing hidden pictures games once in a while, but in this case the items aren’t so much hidden as scattered about the room or scene, and the iPhone screen is just a little too small to make that a fun game. In some instances, there’s only one item to pick up to solve a puzzle, and it’s not even really hidden. For example, in one scene I needed a ladder to get into a high window. The game switched into hidden picture mode, listed “ladder” at the bottom so I could tap the ladder, and then switched back to “solve the puzzle” story mode.

The other issue, which may be better on a bigger screen (or the DS’s second screen) is that the score obscures the very top of the screen, and the inventory tab hides the left. There were instances where I could see the item I wanted to tap on the left side, but each time I tried to hit it, the inventory tab popped out. I take it these are issues caused by translation from a different version, and it shows that the game was not originally designed for the iPhone.

Chronicles of Mystery ScreenshotsChronicles of Mystery Screenshots

Also, it seems like the game was translated into English, because some of the dialogue is just a little off. At one point I was supposed to find a “baseball stick.” Oh, a baseball bat?

The one thing the game does have going for it is the graphics. A combination of illustrations and photography, the scenes are beautiful to look at and the hidden items look like they belong in the space. I did also like the tilt-controlled labyrinth mini-game, in which the maze is obscured until you uncover the path. But some of the other mini-games are extremely simple and I didn’t find them challenging at all.

Finally, the ending was quite unsatisfying. The plotline involves the Knights Templar and some obscure world-ending ritual, but after you solve the last puzzle there’s a short cut-scene which just resolves everything abruptly. Talk about deus ex machina. It’s not even anything that you, as a player, were responsible for, so you get the feeling you’re just watching somebody else save the day.

At $3.99, Chronicles of Mystery isn’t really worth the price of entry. Perhaps younger players may find it more of a challenge, but I hardly think they’ll be interested in a quasi-historical mystery. Chronicles of Mystery tries to be the next Da Vinci Code … but I hated that book, too.

Wired: Beautiful graphics and a few entertaining mini-games.

Tired: Unsatisfying ending and glitchy game mechanics.

Disclosure: GeekDad received a free download for review.

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