I think I’ve said in the past that a hidden object game will be either a success or failure on the strength of its hidden object scenes. While I still think that is mostly true, Apothecarium: The Renaissance of Evil has taught me that there are many other ways that a game in the genre can fail spectacularly.
It starts off promising enough – the premise is good and creepy. There’s a plague in the land, and your character’s search for a missing dutchess has led to you Apothecarium, a mystical little town where people are going in search of a cure. Of course, those same people are also never heard from again.
The game uses one of my least favorite hidden object gimmicks – morphing objects, but that’s a personal preference and I can still appreciate that the hidden object scenes are solid. I ran into a few issues where an object didn’t look as expected, but that happens in almost all hidden object titles. The alternate solve mechanism here is a match-3 puzzle that brings nothing special to the table.
Sadly, this is about the sum of what Apothecarium: The Renaissance of Evil does passably well. There’s a map that – at least in the early game, is basically useless. There are locations in directions that the game won’t let you travel until you hit some arbitrary story point. There is occasional, sloppy, and unlosable combat sequences that add nothing. There are interactables that your character magically knows aren’t ready for you to interact with yet.
There is also an in-game “store” which allows you to buy things with collectible coins that are in just about every screen waiting for you to click on them. Honestly, I’m not sure which is more offensive – the semi-omniscient player character who the game forces to do exceptionally stupid things in cut scenes, or the presence of the ridiculous shop that reeks of being a leftover from mobile platforms with in game purchases – despite the fact I can’t find any concrete evidence that the game was ever available on iOS or Android.
There’s no point in trying to follow a story when your character always seems to know things you do not – including what objects you should be looking for, but not, unfortunately, where to look for them. Apothecarium: The Renaissance of Evil manages to combine all of my least favorite elements of both hidden object gameplay and point-n-click adventure games into a tidy package of absolutely no fun. I wouldn’t recommend this one at any price – even free.