CLASSIC. ADVENTURE. GAME. Three words that are plugged directly into the nostalgia centers of my brain. Fans who long for the heyday of Myst and other point-and-click adventures are going to love this one, but the uninitiated folks in the audience may still get a kick out of throwback to a simpler, sedate gaming age.
The Secret of Grisly Manor is effectively Diet Myst; familiar point-and-clicky goodness, but with puzzles that won’t break your mind with their complexity. In fact, it probably won’t take you more than a couple of hours max to finish the game, but this is time well spent. The story is a little on the light side, but the puzzles and environment are all tightly crafted, lovely to look at, and genuinely satisfying to explore.
This little mystery game has you wandering around the titular manor in search of your missing grandfather. Naturally, the house is empty, but your eccentric inventor grandfather has filled the house from top to bottom with secrets to discover and mysteries to solve. Along the way you’ll collect random objects, stumble across odd features, and wrack your brains trying to figure out how to use them all. Many of the puzzles are fairly straightforward, but there is no hint system, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself stumped occasionally.
The environments are all static images, but there are quite a few of them, and they’re all beautifully crafted and enhance the “spooky” nature of the game. Moving around the house is also delightfully simple and intuitive, however, I found the brief loading time before each screen more irritating than I would have expected. Honestly, it’s not that bad, especially for a slow-paced, nostalgia-based game, but my brain has been trained by more modern games to demand speed.
Still, I really and truly enjoyed this game from start to finish. From the moment I picked it up, I did not put it down, and while I was mildly disappointed at how short the game was, I can’t say I wasn’t satisfied when I finally put it aside. The ending is a bit…at odds with the overall feel of the game, but I’m perfectly willing to overlook lackluster writing in favor of the game’s other considerable assets.
The Bad: No hint system, thin storytelling, rather short
The Good: Impeccable interface, gorgeous graphics, and pitch perfect puzzles
The good strongly outweighs the bad in this case, so if you’re a fan of adventure games and rich, meaty puzzles, do yourself a favor and pick this one up already.
Here is a video demo of the The Secret of Grisly Manor app on the iPhone
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