Shady antiques collector Jeff Rodrick has just scored a prized painting that could be worth millions — once a few figurines that are supposed to be inset into the frame are tracked down, that is. Starting his search at the house depicted within the watercolor now in his hands, Jeff finds that the eccentric and long-absent owner left it in just the sort of order that can be appreciated by fans of casual adventure and Find the Hidden Object games. Venturing into a creepy old house is hardly a new proposition in either genre, but Apostrophe Stockholm means to tune up the horror to the max with this App Store contribution. Will Jeff make it out alive, or will the last word from his lips be Lechuza (Out Now, $1.99)?
Lechuza tasks the player with guiding Jeff around from a first person perspective, swiping objects in and out of his inventory to solve puzzles that bar his way. Players who aren’t used to Hidden Object games are liable to find most of these logical dilemmas bizarre, but veterans will appreciate the quirky creativity that went into designing them. That hammer sitting in the kitchen? Oh, that should be used to bash in the old TV, wherein you’ll find the flower that holds a critical phone number within its petals. I mean, c’mon, that’s so obvious, right? Needless to say this house gets pretty wrecked by the time zombies show up for the party.
Despite its billing, Lechuza tragically passes up its chance to show us the potential of a good Horror/casual adventure mashup. Jeff’s adventure certainly runs the gamut from vaguely unsettling to full-blown fright fest, but the payoff is far too short to be sweet. Lechuza‘s content will stretch little more than an hour on average, ending with a confusing cliffhanger just when the going gets really good. To its credit, the game’s dialogue is well scripted aside from an occasional spelling oddity, and its palpable mood evolves at just the right pace to keep the player hooked until the unfortunately abrupt finale.
Lechuza‘s presentation on the iPhone and iPod Touch also does it a decisive disservice — this is undoubtedly one better experienced on the iPad’s larger screen. Its beautiful artwork can’t be pinch zoomed, making objects difficult to discern from the environment at times, and its tiny text displays fare even worse. You might want to bring 20/20 vision to this one if you’re playing on one of the smaller iDevices. On the upside, Lechuza‘s atmospheric music serves it well, and interaction with objects feels completely reliable despite their diminutive size.
iFanzine Verdict: Well designed but short on content and ill suited to the iPhone’s small touchscreen, Lechuza loses out to its competition in both the casual adventure and Hidden Object genres. That said, it might fare better aesthetically on the iPad, and what’s on tap is entertaining enough that genre vets – particularly those looking for a strong Horror twist and don’t mind if it’s brief – might be interested if they’ve exhausted the very best titles already.