Monday, October 24, 2011

Paige Harper and the Tome of Mystery

The most danger my job has ever put me in involved paper cuts. Okay, there was that time we had the lockdown and the SWAT showed up, but that hardly counts. Poor Paige Harper is a librarian (some of my favorite people, btw) and she goes into a back room of the library to get a book. Taking the book off the shelf opens a secret passage that she explores without giving anyone else a heads up. While exploring secret passageways and swimming, always take a buddy.  As anyone in their right mind would expect, the door closes, locking her inside with the ghost of the last person to get trapped.  Yikes!

The odds of escape don’t look good and you begin to wonder where this game is going to go. As it turns out, it’s about to take a hard turn into weird and wonderful. Remember your old pop-up books from when you were little? I always wanted to say “Ta Da!” when I turned the page and the diorama appeared, I always felt such a sense of surprise with one, like the book itself was trying to say “Ta Da!”

Our hero/librarian must open a magic book which transports her to pop-up versions of classic books and plays like Treasure Island and Romeo and Juliet. Once she gets there, she has to find objects and solve puzzles. The game supplies many different camera angles so you can see the page from almost every angle. It took a couple of minutes for me to get used to it, but I found it a fascinating process. Something I found odd and mildly disturbing is that moving between chapters in the book involves a burning page transition. I’m not sure if it’s a nod to banned/burned books, but it sets me back just a bit when it happens. 
The game has both a hint button and a magnifying glass, for which my old eyes are very grateful, because of the unique nature of the graphics it can be hard for me to make out the objects sometime.  It’s also helpful that you have to find objects that you actually use in the story, I get bored of games where you have to find random objects like feathers. Almost every hidden object game requires you to find feathers, but I can’t remember every using one in a game. With Paige Harper, no feathers and you use many of the objects to solve puzzles.

I like this game a lot, it’s fun and stays true to the classic stories it highlights. Its graphics are unique and challenging and the hero is a librarian with amazing eyebrows. I love it when designers do something different and do a good job, it makes me come back and play again and again.

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