Salem Witch Trials: Not Arthur Miller, but pretty good for a game

Spoiler alert! Salem Witch Trials may well be the Jaguar of hidden object games. The story line could use some work, but the graphics and puzzles are first rate. It’s just the game for that bridge between ghosts and Halloween and New England and Thanksgiving. Definitely biscuit worthy.

Slowly I’m recovering from my post-Halloween depression and looking forward to my post-Thanksgiving depression. We are now entering that weird pseudo-season before Christmas when businesses ask us to hand over the cash we used to give them at Christmas, and then spend twice as much for Christmas (if only for the good of the economy). That weird pseudo-season when we will spar with family in preparation for the knockdown drag-out bouts at Christmas, only we don’t get presents.

I’d better shut up now before Carol makes me go to another holiday-aversion addiction meeting. The last intervention wasn’t bad; the program has a single step which is recognize the problem and get over it. But people who are holiday averse tend to be grouchy. Hell, if you can’t love Christmas, who can you love? Trust me, grouchy people are tough to hang out with.

I don’t know why Carol laughed when I pointed this out. I thought I was making a simple observation, but I made the comment Tuesday and she still laughs whenever she looks at me.

One game to fill the void between Halloween and Thanksgiving is Salem Witch Trials. It combines ghosts with a New England local and at one point you have to find lots of pumpkins. What more could you ask for?

Salem Witch Trials is a hidden object game, the third of three hidden object games to be reviewed this week. It also happens to be the best of the three, maybe the best I’ve played. Hidden object games typically feature a simple quest where the player finds lots of stuff, maybe solves some puzzles, meets weird characters and finds the magic talisman that will allow him to leave the game.

Hidden object story lines tend to be simplistic and picaresque. Calling a game “picaresque” may make it sound more exotic than it is, but basically a picaresque story line sacrifices character and plot development for a series of random adventures leading to the object of the quest. Some hidden object games are built around a mystery, but the quest for clues still seems pretty random.

Salem Witch Trials offers a much more complex story line with subplots and conspiracies galore. Readers begin with a mystery to solve, “Who killed Nathaniel Hawthorne?” They end up chasing assassination plots and freeing ghosts. There’s still no character development, but games are really designed for character development? Even in RPGs character development involves skill points and not wisdom or self-awareness.

The game requires the player to follow clues, find objects and solve puzzles. As with the best hidden object games, you not only find objects but you have to use some of them to solve puzzles and find other objects. What sets the game above others is the number of objects you need to manipulate and the need to combine objects into other objects.

It isn’t enough to find objects. You have to figure out which to combine to solve additional puzzles.

The number and variety of puzzles is astounding. You have to use game objects and clues from dialogues with the dead to unlock safes, gain safe passage to new levels, and even solve brain teasers. The objects themselves are often very well hidden and it’s incredibly tempting to use up your hints just to finish a level.

The game features well-designed hidden object searches

The puzzles are frequent and complex

The graphics are nothing short of spectacular. The colors are rich and the images high resolution. Nor do you have to click your way through mundane dialogue balloons. Most of the conversations contain clues, but you only talk to characters by selecting questions you want to ask. If you want to bypass conversation, you simply don’t click on the questions.

The ghosts of the dead can point you in the right direction.

Nor is this a game you can play through in a couple of hours. You have to backtrack often, and when you do you may discover entirely new passages and buildings. The game also hides significant clues and objects in levels that don’t involve object searches. An important clue may tumble from a tree if you click on it to shake the branches, or a closed door may open to reveal the coins you need to pay passage later.

Mumbo Jumbo, the game’s developers, go out of their way to accommodate players who want extreme challenges as well as lots of help. For the later, they provide the usual handful of clues, and you can earn additional clues by finding hidden ravens. You can also buy additional clues online. Other games do this, but this is the only one that also provides an optional players manual and clue book.

For an additional fee, you can download a game manual

Before it’s over you may well spend thirty dollars on this game, but I don’t think players who buy the guide will feel gypped. It’s as well-drawn and entertaining as the game. You probably won’t need to spend the extra ten dollars for extra clues, as there are plenty of ravens, but you may want to download the guide even if you completed the game without it.

Jenny Manytoes rates Salem Witch Trials

Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Salem Witch Trials. Don’t complain about the price if you love hidden object games. Many of them aren’t any good even if they’re free, but ten dollars for this one is ten dollars well spent.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 5 Stars - Biscuits, Games, Hidden Object, Puzzle Games and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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