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May 26, 2015 12:45 pm  #51


The Secret Order:  Beyond Time

Based on both the CE and SE demos.

Sarah Pennington (your character) has been working for the Secret Order for some time, often against the Dragon Clan, and ending up back in time ..... where she is now ...... trapped.

The VERY FIRST impression I got when the game opened for play was .............. NO!  OMGosh NO!!!!  TOO MUCH ORANGE and GOLD!!!!!  Yes, over-use of those "crayons" needs to stop.  It actually hurt my eyes so
much I wasn't sure if I could continue the demo ..... but, I prevailed (YAY ME) ..... and here are my notes.

Graphics - obviously I had a problem with the colors used but, other than that, the graphics were amazing, right down to the ittiest, bittiest crack or line or imprint.  Amazing.  Voice overs - not many but quite well done, as were the sound fx - I could here a cat purr, clinking of metal.  Yep.  Amazing.  You could almost close your eyes and feel surrounded by the tiniest of sounds you would hear in "real" life.

Difficulty:  Casual, Advanced, Expert ---- no "custom" here.

Your diary shows "Objectives" only.  I did not see "notes" or "clues".   Just "Objectives".  I did read where another reviewer mentioned "notes".  I didn't see it myself.  The transportable map is very clear as to where to go and where you are.  Some maps can get muddled giving too much useless info.

You have to find ..... something (sorry, but I can't give EVERYTHING away ) to activate the "hint" button.   Yes, even on the "Casual" setting.

HOGs (hidden object games) were mostly list type, sometimes very interactive.  There is an alternate Mahjong game if you prefer.  Mini Games - fun, new, fresh ideas.  Some required P&P (Patience and Perseverance ).  There were definitely more Mini Games than HOGs.

Ultimately, you will get a "helper".  Not one we've seen before in ANY "helper" games from ANY Dev, including this one.  Please.  If you DO play the demo ......... is it anatomically correct?  There's a bit of bright neon green where .... well...... you DO cover it up ..... but .....  do YOU see it?????  It really took me aback!  Your "helper" will gain 4 special powers (2 were found in the demo).  They DO come in handy and, no, I am NOT going to tell you what they are.  Just that they are very handy.

CE Bling:

Aside from the usual Bonus Game, Strategy Guide (which shows 6 chapters), etc., there are ....

*  30 collectible masks (1 was a jaguar, 1 a crocodile, and they were found by accident).  They certainly DO NOT stand out right in your face.

I have played "Secret Order" games before, I think.  At least 1?  I don't think I played the one before this.  Or, I may have played the demo but, at this writing, am not sure if it's in my "dungeon of unplayed games" or not.  In any  case, several references were made to the previous game(s) .... so this might NOT be a standalone.   I know I was confused by several statements made ("Sarah, I am not your father".   Shades of Darth Vader!! ). 

Will I rush out to purchase the previous game if I don't already own it?  Very unlikely. Will I even purchase this one?  Maybe the SE but definitely NOT the CE, unless I read any reviews that state the Bonus Game is necessary to complete the main story.  (I dislike when Devs put the actual ending of a story in the Bonus Game, thereby forcing us to purchase the CE ).  If I can get past the crayon usage (see "Graphics" above) AND the terrible lag between scenes (like looking at a black screen much?), I might purchase the SE.  I LOVE the Egyptian era and would probably purchase the SE based solely on that.  I would recommend it for any level of experience.

What's next in Sarah Pennington's race to get back to her "real" time?  Join me and let's fly away in our ship (yes, FLY in a ship) to yet another adventure!


Overall Impression: After playing the SE, I found I truly enjoyed the game.  If I have a coupon handy, I'll likely get it.  Otherwise, nah. There is not enough CE Bling to warrant using a coupon, credits or hard-earned CASH!  Could be BOGO worthy. 
[b] The slow lag appears only in the CE.  [/b]

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?

May 26, 2015 8:04 pm  #52


Dark Parables:  Queen of Sands

 Based on both the CE and SE demos.

 A young girl walks across the town square, stopping at a market stall where a young man hands her an apple.  Their fingers brush as she takes the apple ..... and then she ............ collapses!  YOUR character (affectionately known as "the Fairytale Detective" ) is sent to Montafleur, France to investigate, and put a stop to (of course) the "beasts" from the forest terrorizing the townsfolk and the "shadowy creatures" in the forest.

Difficulty:  Casual, Hard, Insane and Custom.

Graphics - starts out grainy but improves immensely when the actual game play starts.  Voice overs were very well done.  Sound fx were great.  I love it when you can hear the littlest sounds.  I didn't feel the need to turn down/off the music so, while it doesn't stick out in my mind (now several hours after having played the game),  I take that as a sign that it wasn't annoying.

There is a tab for "Objectives" near the hint button that sparkles when a new task is available.  Not terribly crazy about the transportable map.  Love that it shows where you are, actions need to be taken and final objective for that area ... but dislike that you click on your "x" or "!" or whatever icon to get to your next location but ... you AREN'T!   After you click on the little icon, you have to click, again, in the upper right side of the map where a pic of your location is in order to actually GET there.  Double-clicking.  Seems superfluous.

HOGs (FRAGS - fragmented pieces to find that builds into 3 bigger pieces that, when found, build into a single item for you to use).  I DISLIKE FRAGS.  Really, really, really dislike them.  Unfortunately, FRAGS are the only HOGs that Dark Parables games have.  Mini Games - fun, some innovative and new.  Easy to extremely difficult (for me anyway - .

In both the CE and SE:  Find 2 Parables (Sandman and Seven Ravens).   You need to locate the pages, in groups of 3 each, to complete each book/parable.  I'm going out on a limb and say there are 5 groups of 3 pages to make 15 pages for each Parable.  Now, you don't get ANY indication that you've found anything.  Nor where a page might be.  Nor what the significance is of locating the entire book/parable.  Nor if we NEED to finalize the book/parable in the Bonus Game, which would suck if you bought the SE.   A whole lot of "nors" for my taste.  Hmmmmm?!?!?!

CE Bling:

*  Collect 39 Fleur De Lis symbols (some are quite difficult to spot).  There is a fleur-de-lis symbol to the right of the Inventory which turns red when the symbol is found in any area.
*  Find every souvenir .... for the Souvenir Room (not sure what this is ..... don't think I found any)

I really like the Dark Parables series.  I believe I own every one, even though most are in my "dungeon of unplayed games" - poor things.  I will DEFINITELY purchase the SE.  I would LOVE a reason to get the CE but, without knowing what the souvenirs are for the Souvenir Room, I can't justify this as being CE-worthy.  So that leaves ..... one collectible? 

Once again, this is a standalone game.  No need to have played previous games in this series.   IMO every level of experience will enjoy Queen of Sands.  Join me in this beastly investigation in Montafleur, France.


Overall Impression:  A fun SE but definitely not CE worthy.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 1, 2015 7:25 pm  #53


Midnight Mysteries:  Ghostwriting CE

Based on CE Only.

Well.   Hmmm.   I guess I just need to ruminate on this further.

In the early 19th century, as your character is going through his mail, he comes across a missive from his good friend, Washington Irving, pleading for help.  He fears for his very life.

When setting up your profile on the "menu" page, your name doesn't quite come up in lights, but having it typed on the typewriter is pretty cool too.

The music was very haunting.  Orchestral.  Beautiful.  Graphics were done very well.  Voice overs were good - lip syncing matched the words, great accents.

4 Difficulties:  Casual, Advanced, Expert, Custom.  Casual seemed a better option than "custom".  IMO.  

You are armed with a diary/journal to hold notes, and a transportable map.  The "hint" button does not transport you.  

You DO have a "helper" in the form of a Raven who just sits there, unobtrusive (you almost forget it's even there until you need it), just ... being a raven.

HOGs (hidden object games) - list and silhouette type that are slightly interactive.

Mini Games ranged from easy to a bit difficult.  But, who can resist a good challenge???  

CE Bling:

In addition to the customary fare, we  have the following:
* Back Story  - You CAN unlock it prior to playing the main game, but are warned that the plot could be disclosed.
*  Tic Tac Toe - 50 (???)
*  Find 56 four-leaf clovers.  They are in the HOGs as well as the game.
*   Raven coins - used to purchase items for your Raven helper's abode.

While an interesting story line ...... ghosts traveling through books, authors disliking their endings (but WHICH ending?  the stories or theirs?  ) and all sorts of mischief that doesn't seem to tie into the story at all .... I'm just ..... not ...... sure ..... if it's for me!  I'm missing that "WOW" factor.  That "NO! THE DEMO CAN'T BE OVER!" factor.  Even so, 'something' pulls me towards purchasing at least the SE.

Join me in the ghostly escapades of some of fiction's greatest authors! 

Oh, and let's NOT forget ..... who would want to miss Ghostwriting:  The Musical?  Yes, at least 1 character .............. sings!


Overall Impression:  Unless the bonus story packs a big punch or is necessary to the ending of the main story, I think the SE would work just fine.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 2, 2015 5:31 pm  #54


Contract with the Devil

Sonya (your character) gets a letter, quite late at night, regarding her daughter, Lisa.  She rushes to the mansion of John McGraw who unveils a mirror.  Suddenly, both her daughter AND John McGraw are pulled into the mirror's vortex.  What is a mother to do?  Jump in after!

The graphics are very grainy and one-dimensional.   I turned the music down.  NO voice overs!!!!  WHAT???!!!???  That's right.  NO voice overs ..... except .......... for the boggart named Browne who speaks ................ gibberish no one can understand.

You get a diary that holds "thoughts and facts" about the game.  The tutorial is called "Study" .  NO map.  At all.

HOGs (hidden object games) were simple lists.  I didn't see a "skip" button for the awful mini games but that's just me.   It could have been there and I didn't see it.  There is a multiple click penalty in the form of clouds/fog (which looks more like cigarette smoke).   The "hint" button takes forever and a day to recharge and keeps taking you back to a place you don't want  to  be.  Add to that, the grammar is hideous.  No other for it ..... tremendously hideous.

I'm sure you can't imagine why I wouldn't just rush out and purchase this game but, alas, it just wasn't for me.  From boggart-only language to grammar I couldn't understand (how do I find items in the HOGs?) to a storyline lacking any substance and, yes, I failed to prevail and learn to like this game.  Obviously, not a purchase for me.

Overall Impression:  Pass.  Run ..... do not walk ... away from this game.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 8, 2015 9:05 am  #55


Travel Riddles:  Trip to Italy

Yes, this is a Match 3 game (M3) and I LOVE a GOOD M3.  Unfortunately, THIS is far from "good".

Graphics were .... ok.  I felt the tiles were too small, thus making the items on them too small.  Music was quite lively.  Best part of the game!  No voiceovers.

2 modes of difficulty:  timed or relaxed.  You could only have 1 profile at a time - that I could tell.  So, if your friend, relative, etc. wanted to play, YOUR profile would be deleted.  After ALL that hard work!

There is a tutorial AFTER each level but it does a very poor job of explaining things.  For instance, HOW, exactly, do we earn the gold stars? (You can earn up to 3 per level.

I figured out myself that there are pieces of a 'relic', 'artifact', etc. that we have to get  down the bottom of the game screen.  We also have to get "x" number of items.  For instance, 12 pieces of grass, etc. to pass the level.  You DO NOT earn any bonuses for matches of 4 or more - again, as far as I could tell.  There is a "shop" but I was never directed there.

No storyline, no helpful tutorial, no entertainment value, no "Italian" anything.  NO purchase for me (figured I'd keep the 'no'  pattern going ).  I definitely DO NOT recommend this game for beginners because of the poor tutorial. 

Overall Impression:  Unless you have an hour to waste - I mean REALLY waste, don't even bother with this demo.


Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 9, 2015 11:24 am  #56


Fantasy Mosaics 9:  Portal in the Woods

As of 6/8, this is NOT a BFG release.  I played this on another gaming site.

Another GREAT FM game brought to us just in time - I've already replayed FM 8 several times!

There's a portal in the woods and the Penguin family has been sucked right into it!  Will this be an exciting adventure or a journey into the horrific unknown?

The graphics seem just 'that' much brighter  in this version.  The music is quite lovely although it may not be everyone's cup of tea.  There are no voice overs. 

This game is played just like the previous 8 FM games. Using the numbers surrounding the graph-like game board, you must either fill in a block or mark it empty.   Once all the numbers are used up, a beautiful picture will emerge.

We have 3 colors to work with.  "Hints" that we accrue by finding them under them under a block, a pickaxe that will destroy one block at a time and recharges after every use and a bright 'sun' that, when placed in an area, will show all the filled in and empty blocks.  So, lots of help if needed. 

I didn't perceive that the first few levels were entirely easy as I had quite a problem with one level  - having to repeat it several times.    I don't like getting 'buzzed' for making an error so I just start over until I can finish a level without making a mistake.  OCD much????? 

There are 20 levels with 5 sub-levels in each.  Giving us  the usual 100 levels which can be played on casual or advanced.  It would be nice if there were a CE version released that had bonus levels ..... or .....  SOMETHING extra and fun.

This version doesn't have a tutorial  so I wouldn't recommend it for those who are playing this type of game for the first time.  Otherwise, I highly recommend it for all expertise levels.  It is a standalone game so it's not necessary to have played the previous games.

Are we rescuing the little Penguin family  or joining them in the adventure of a lifetime? 


Overall Impression:   This is a definite purchase for me.  Although, I will agree with with some other players that it's time to add a little 'something' to the game ..... perhaps extra bonus levels? ..... Mini games after each level of 5 games played?   It's definitely time for something.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 10, 2015 10:15 am  #57


True Detectve 2 Solitaire

Oh, where, oh where, have all the good solitaire games gone???  

Storyline:  Oh yeah, there was none.  Boring.

Graphics:  Everything was too small to read/see.  Ultimately, I had to change the cards away from something 'nice' to the large print 'not quite so nice' cards which made playing the game ................. boring

Sound FX:  Were there any?
Music:  Ok.  I could say it was 'detective-y' but I ultimately tuned it out.
Voice Overs:  Oh yeah.  Since there's no storyline, there's no need for voice overs.

Game Play:

The gist of the game is to play 10 'hands' per level.  Each hand will give you points for collecting the 'gold' cards.  These gold cards must add up to "x" total number at the end of 10 hands in order to go on to the next level.  If you don't have enough 'total' cards/points you need to replay previous hands until you do.

What I Disliked:
*  The board game did not take up my entire screen even though it was set as "full screen".
*  The cards, menu selection, level indicators, etc. were too small  for me to read.  
*   Even though I had it set for a tutorial, I got a very basic one.  The first level teaches you how to play the game - which is a basic hi/low card game.  What are the starred cards for?  What are the gold cards for?
*  When you finish your 10 levels, you are not told WHY you can't 'continue'.  The word 'continue' is shadowed out so your only option is to 'replay'.  However, THAT only allows you to play the last hand.  To replay earlier hands you must got to "Pause", "Menu", "Levels".  And, again, the level 'count' is too tiny to really read well.
*  After replaying "x" number of hands to gain enough 'points' to continue to the next level, there is no indication that you have reached that "x" magic number.  You have to keep clicking on the next level's icon.  When you can continue, you do.  If there aren't enough points, you can't.
*  There are only THREE bonuses you can purchase.

What I Liked:
*   The bonuses could be purchased just by clicking on the bonus icon rather than going to the 'store'.
*   The demo ended.

I would not recommend this game for beginners because of the lack of info the tutorial provides.  This game is a definite NO purchase for me.  NO storyline.  Very boring game.  I was extremely glad when the demo ended.

For those who like a straightforward, no-nonsense solitarie game .................


Overall Impression:  Yawn.   Yawn.   Snore.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 12, 2015 4:11 pm  #58


Haunted Train:  Frozen in Time SE

Based on both the SE and CE demos

A dark-cloaked figure (Katherine) turns on her partner in crime (Slyboots) at the last moment before .......... well ............. ThAT'S where the story begins.

Graphics:  Done well but felt a little "off".  
Music:  Ok.  You had me at the music before the game play even began.  Haunting, suspenseful.  It made me WANT to play the game.
Sound fx: Also done quite well as you could hear the slighest noise in the background.
Voice Overs:  True to form ..... the perfect tone and pitch for every character and in every situation.  Even though the actual characters were a bit "stiff", their voice overs were excellent.

4 Difficulty settings:  Casual, Advanced, Hard and Custom (hint recharge and skip could go down as  far as zero (0).  WOW!   No wait for skip OR recharge.  I don't think I've seen THAT before.

You are armed with a transportable map (the hint button also teleports) and a Chronometer that can freeze/unfreeze time (a mini game in itself every time it's used).  There are also 10 birds to find.

HOGs (hidden object games) - 20 - slightly interactive lists.
Mini Games - 22 - quite fun, not terribly difficult.  New techniques to old games.

CE Bling:
I didn't see any "bonus game" or "strategy guide" in the "Extras" section but I'm sure when the main game is finished it will show up.  I think.  I hope.  

Besides music and wallpapers, there are:

*   47 collectibles pieces (butterflies?)
*   17 Morphings Objects

I felt as though this was not a standalone game.  While there was a brief synopsis of the previous game, I still felt I was at a disadvantage for not playing it.  (I own it - It's just in the dungeon of unplayed games.)   I think every level of expertise will enjoy the game.  Is it CE-worthy?  IMO, yes.  But, a bonus game, collectibles AND morphing objects gets me every time .

Olivia has gone in search of her love, Daniel.  To rescue him from the clutches of Katherine and Slyboots.  Are you up to the task of helping?  If so,


Overall Impression:  Great as a CE OR SE.  There is a LOT to do in the game play without the CE Bling.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

June 18, 2015 10:24 am  #59


Grim Facade: Hidden Sins CE

The Mayor of Coldstone ask you the detective for some help as his wife has been kidnapped and her name is on a list of people who the bad guy named The Avenger is set out to murder.

This game is set in the 19th century which ERS is very fond of.  I think it is very picturesque, myself,  to arrive in town with a horse & buggy then just a plain old car.  It doesn't have the pretty colors that ERS is known for.  It has a much darker and somber look about it.  You do have a helper, kind of, it is a scrappy, old cat that likes to follow you about.  There is graphic violence in this game...blood & murder.  More of a adult theme game.

Right now I am playing Dark Tales: EAP's The Masque of Red Death and the plot line is similar with this game.  In the Dark Tales game, you have the man in the Red Masque who wants to kill the mayor and others in the town's council.  Here in the Grim Facade game you have The Avenger who wants vigilante justice by killing the people who he thinks is responsible for putting a innocent man to death.

The CE extras include your choice of playing options - Casual - Advanced - Hard - Custom.
4 movies
8 wallpapers
5 screensavers
replay 12 HOPs & 18 mini games
24 achievements
and collecting

I like the game and will be getting the SE when it comes out.

Last edited by sunshinej (June 18, 2015 10:29 am)

i ♥ nirvana

June 20, 2015 2:25 pm  #60


Forgotten Kingdoms:  The Ruby Ring CEBased only on the CE.  As of 6/20 the SE has not been released.

[b]The Kingdom of Minah was attacked and the King and Queen ..... disappeared. But, Naya, a young girl herself, grabbed the baby, Prince Tristan, and ran to the forest to hide him. Its now his 18th birthday and time for Prince Tristan to take his rightful place in the Kingdom.  But. .... it doesn't come easily.

Difficulties:  Citizen, Royalty, Legend and Custom.  (Loved the unique names.)

Music:  So beautiful.  I don't know how to best describe it.  It elicited the feeling of "I want to continue", "It's time to move on".  Voice Overs:  Very disappointing as there was NO lip syncing.  What?!?!  With all the amazing things games can do these days, there is NO lip syncing?!?!?!

During the game play you have a transportable map, a journal, an optional tutorial and the Ruby Ring (which causes the crystals all over the kingdom to disappear).  Using the Ruby Ring is a mini game in and of itself.

HOGs (hidden object games) - I came across a silhouette (find "x" number of "z"), list type (not interactive) and NO alternative game to play.

Mini Games:  I found these extraordinarily difficult.  The instructions were hard to understand and, as a result, I think I skipped ALL the mini games I came across ----- after spending quite a bit of time trying to solve them.  I NEVER skip games so this really upset/annoyed me.

CE Bling:  Besides the wallpaper, music, etc., you must ..................
*  Collect 60 crowns.  Please note there are MORE than 1 crown per scene.  There is an icon on the map that shows a picture of a crown until all have been discovered.
*  20 journal clues (have NO idea what this is).

I played the  game using the "hint" button as opposed to the transportable map which didn't always work.  The Strategy Guide did NOT show where the collectibles were located during the demo.  I was bored.  There just wasn't ANYTHING to keep me intrigued with the story OR the game.  I quit the demo with 24 minutes left to play.  I can't EVER recall quitting a demo before it was finished.  It isn't a game for me and is definitely not a purchase.

Tristan, on his 18th birthday, received the Ruby Ring which designates him as the rightful leader of Kingdom Minah.  Help him defeat the imposter king, find his rightful place on the throne and, hopefully, locate his parents.

ENJOY! Overall Impression:  Run.  Don't walk.  Far away from this huge yawn .  Definitely NOT CE-worthy.

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket!!!?
     Thread Starter

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