Dark Arcana: The Carnival


Dark Arcana: The Carnival

MSRP: $9.99 (Steam), $4.99 with free trial (GooglePlay)

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Blackberry, WinPhone

Release: 10/8/12

Dark Arcana: The Carnival is a hidden object game of the quality one expects from Artifex Mundi.  You take on the role of a detective tasked with finding a woman who was kidnapped at a carnival.  Of course, all is not as it seems, and with the help of a trained monkey, you must navigate the mysteries of the carnival to save the woman and defeat an evil force.


The story, then, is pretty standard hidden-object fare; completely not believable, but it does hold to it’s own odd logic. The hidden object scenes are solid – no tricky lighting, and only the occasional disconnect between the word you’re given and the actual look of the object.  However, needing to occasionally use the hint button because of an odd translation is hardly the worst sin in a hidden object game.  Dark Arcana: The Carnival does have an alternative to hidden object scenes – a game called Monaco, which involves card matching.  I’ve never understood why people would play hidden object games and then skip the hidden object components, but I guess it’s considerate to give the option?


For the most part, the non-hidden object puzzles aren’t terribly challenging (I skipped one over the course of the entire game because I just couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do), and they’re pretty well varied.  There is a map function (once you find the map early on), but there is no way to travel by map, which leads to a lot of backtracking.  I find that game designers leave out map travel as a way to extend games that run somewhat on the shorter side – completion of the main story took me just barely over 2 hours, and a lot of that time was spent walking back and forth.


Which brings me to the conclusion I come to with nearly all hidden object games – I just can’t justify the asking price. That said, the voice acting was inoffensive, the adventure game elements fairly logical, and the story held together well enough, which puts Dark Aracana: The Carnival quite a bit ahead of many other games in the genre.  Other than the fact that the instead of loading into the title screen, the intro cutscene would play every time you opened the game, and the game’s length, there’s very little to not recommend this game if you’re a fan of the genre.  Pick it up on sale or in a bundle for a couple of hours of hidden object fun.

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