The folks over at Point & Click LLC must deeply miss the era of exploration adventure games done in the style of MYST, as their recent title — TheMystery of Haunted Hollow (out now, $0.99) — bears many similarities.
It all begins when find yourself alone in a forest, after which a ghostly apparition shows up long enough to deliver a single message, which — upon grabbing it — claims that only pain awaits if you continue forward. However — not being the sort of person to heed such warnings — you instead charge headlong into a forest covered town, compelled onward by a need to discover why this dilapidated place seems so familiar. But it won’t be easy, for this land — thanks to the many traps and puzzles strewn all over — doesn’t intend to give up its answers, at least not without making you work for every last inch.
Right off the bat let me make this clear: Despite how TheMystery of Haunted Hollow might look from its iTunes App Store screenshots, it is not a Hidden Object game in any way — shape — or form. It is a classical Graphic Adventure — done entirely from the first person perspective — wherein you wander about, gather up clues and objects, and then use what you’ve found elsewhere to make further progress. While MYST would regularly frustrate players — leaving them utterly befuddled — Point & Click LLC aims to provide a more streamlined experience, so as to help ease newcomers into the overall genre.
In fact, it would be quite fair to redub this game “My First MYST (For Beginner Players)” to most accurately describe the experience that one will find contained within. The flipside — however — is this extreme ease of use has the side effect of making the app so easy that some battle hardened veterans might find TheMystery of Haunted Hollow to be a bit on the simplistic side when compared to the classical graphic adventures of the past. Yet — on the other hand — should one of those pre-established masters wish to introduce a friend of theirs to the genre, Haunted Hollow’s easy accessibility is certainly a powerful asset that it has over the genre’s far more obtuse forefathers.
None of this — however — means that TheMystery of Haunted Hollow is completely free from the “Moon Logic” the genre is so often infamous for, and more than once I could have sworn the town was constructed by Resident Evil’s infamous Lord Spencer. This isn’t to imply these puzzles can only be solved via a guide, rather that some of the things you’ll be doing — such as repairing a mineshaft generator with a fuse you found inside a cat statue (which you also opened with a gem) — can often seem rather bizarre. Furthermore, the protagonist’s uncanny ability to know which things he should jot down — because they’re obviously vital — can often be quite humorous: why does a car’s license plate clearly mean something, yet a name carved all over a tree house’s insides does not?
Finally, a word of caution to those venturing inside this dilapidated town: I’m not entirely willing to proclaim that Point & Click’s app delivered on all of their marketing promises, but I won’t go into that spiel as I’d have to otherwise massively spoil the game’s ending. Instead, I will issue a heavy warning for those whom dislike inconclusive endings (especially when a sequel isn’t guaranteed): the entire experience does indeed close with a “To Be Continued”. Either way, at the low price of just $0.99 — all with no IAPs — there’s really not much to be lost by at least giving this game a try (especially if you’re hoping to introduce someone to the genre).
iFanzine Verdict: Point & Click LLC’s The Mystery of Haunted Hollow is a throwback to the first person graphic adventures of yore — specifically: MYST — except built to be far more user accessible, which is both a boon and a curse for this game. While long time fans of the genre may end up put off by the app’s efforts to help them solve the various puzzles, the experience just might be what newcomers needed to ease them into concepts we already take for granted. At the cost of just $0.99 — with absolutely no IAPs to deal with — there’s really not much to lose by at least giving Mystery of Haunted Hollow a chance, unless you also happen to utterly abhor games that end in “To Be Continued”.