I Bet You Were Expecting a ‘Nevermore’ Tagline…
Meh. A hidden object puzzler on the DS. Not a particularly great fit, given the smaller screen size of the system, though I can understand that the budget of these titles might lend itself better to handheld systems than home consoles. And, to be honest, a HOG is pretty much what I was hoping for when I went digging in the value bin at my game store. They’re not my favorite genre – I’ve reviewed quite a number of them when writing for BNBGaming and continue to be involved with them at AdventureGamers – but I don’t hate them. In fact, they can be charming and intriguing, if done right. But this day I was looking for a game for my girlfriend, who is more into seek-n-finds than I am. Ironically, I am the one who ultimately picked it up and played it, and it wasn’t quite the diamond-in-the-rough experience I was hoping it would be.
The idea behind The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy is an interesting, even appealing one: Relive several of the famed author’s dark tales to solve the real-life crimes that inspired them, and in the process reveal the truth behind Poe’s death and set his trapped soul free. In execution, though, several problems do crop up.
The on-screen resolution, is indistinct and grainy at times. In addition, spotting hidden items camouflaged within the backgrounds can be difficult due to their sometimes small size on an already small screen. To alleviate this, the designers have added the option to zoom in on any area and peruse the scene in a zoomed in rectangle displaying approximately one-fifth of the entire scene. The result of this, though, is that you’ll stay in zoom mode practically the entire playthrough, making it harder to appreciate the visuals as they were meant to be viewed.
To be fair, the above concern stops being an issue pretty quickly, right about the time you come to realize that the game’s plot is oftentimes nothing more than an unintelligible excuse to send you to a new location and “do some more stuff”. I like the game’s premise of using Poe’s unsettling literature to bring to light the story behind some real-life murders, but, like many casual gamers who will pick this title up, I am not intimately familiar with much of Poe’s fiction, so the finer points of the game’s narrative and the supposed contemporary connections are lost on me. I don’t even possess enough knowledge of the source material to accurately judge how well reality and fiction were interwoven here. Instead, to me it quickly became a game of “blah blah blah…find some items…blah blah blah…solve a puzzle.” Too bad, really, with a rich treasure trove of content to draw from.
As it stands, the most exciting moment the game provided me was the (admittedly neat) creaking sound as if of a rotting wooden door or perhaps a rusty coffin lid when closing the DS’ screen and putting it on Standby mode. Surely not what you’d want your game’s most memorable feature to be.