Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Dark Arcana: The Carnival

Fun fair...more like fun fear...

God I'm so very sorry for that pun at the top of this article, my brain just couldn't conjure up a half decent funfair based joke. But enough about my depressing lack of comedy genius, we're here to talk about Dark Arcana: The Carnival, one of a growing list of hidden object puzzles games that are beginning to make an appearance on consoles. The hidden object genre seems to be a some what hated one among console owners and I'm not really sure why as they're pretty closely related to point and click games which are one of the most beloved genres among more hardcore gamers. While I'm personally not fanatical about the genre I have played some of them (most notably Nightmares from the deep: The cursed heart) and found them to be a nice change of pace.

Story wise Dark Arcana is pretty similar to most games of similar ilk, you play a character trying to find another character while supernatural forces try and halt your progress....why exactly this seems to be such a common plot thread for hidden object games I'm not sure, but it works. In this particular case you're a nameless detective who's out to find a mother who has vanished within the walls of the ubiquitous carnival of the title. But what starts off as a simple search around an amusement park transformers into a tale of a former knife throwers tragic mistake and how he's ended up turning to dark forces to try and reverse his error.

So how do you go about this search I hear you scream down the phone, hoping someone....anyone is listening to your demands for a gameplay summary. Well you, dear reader, wander about the amusement park (in its various forms) looking for items and solving puzzles. Some of these puzzles simply involve finding an object and using it on another object. Some involve a variety of  mini puzzles requiring you to do such tasks as link up wires or decode a language and there are quite a few of these and they help add a bit of variety. Most are fine, one or two are a bit poor and a few are actually pretty creative, one early on involving the managers door is an especially creative example.

But inevitably the final form of puzzle is the hidden object puzzle. In general dark arcane does a fine job with these as other games I've played that are a similar vein tend to over clutter their hidden object sections or have vague and abstract descriptions that make it a chore for the player to figure out what they're even hunting for. Fortunately this isn't an issue you'll find with this game and it means these sections don't tend to be a chore...and even if you do find things a bit tough or dull a touch on the left D-pad will send you to a card matching game that's a nice simple alternative.

Visually Dark Arcana is much the same as other members of the genre, having a nineties CGI cut scene vibe that's quite nostalgic and likable. The design is also fairly creative with the Gothic carnival setting being a pleasure to stroll through and the voice acting is...well it's function, it's not amazing but not offensive. There are a few issues though that diminish the experience, the main one being the length. Hidden object games never tend to be especially length but even so I found Dark Arcana to be on the brief side, and the length is hindered even further by the fact it's also on the easy side, a few of the mini games present a tougher challenge but I found that in general it was quite simple to get through compared to other hidden object games I've played (although it's also priced pretty fairly at £7.99).

So Dark Arcana: The Carnival. On the downside it's on the short side and is a bit easy although this does mean it's a good way for newcomers to try their first hidden object game. It benefits from a creative setting and a strong balance of mini games to break up the hidden object searching. A great place to start for newcomers, but veterans may want to hunt down a bigger challenge

Time for the cleanup

You can follow the games developers Artifex Mundi right here.

Geekmash here.

And myself over here.

Catch ya later yeah!

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