Hidden object games are a dime a dozen, and I have most definitely played dozens. They range from great (I am a big fan of Mystery Case Files on PC/Mac) to mediocre (namely, the G5 iPad games) to downright terrible. Ferrum’s Secrets: Where is Grandpa? falls in that final category. The game looks okay at the start (though only if you don’t use any of the terrible Instagram-inspired filters available) but more often than not it is flawed in its execution.
Related reading: Andrew’s review of another hidden object game, Alice: Behind the Mirror for iPad.
Ferrum’s Secrets: Where is Grandpa? is not only a terrible name, it describes what the player will be doing the entire time: searching for Grandpa, a well-known inventor from Ferrum who disappeared without a trace. You play as his granddaughter, who arrives looking for her grandfather and ultimately ends up unraveling the mystery of where he (and other prominent local figures from Ferrum) have gone. Along the way, a kitten named Iris is there to help out. The story is the usual shallow mystery that hidden object games cling to, and tends to be forgotten until a person or object of interest is introduced.
The controls are fairly straightforward, and follow the usual point-and-click adventure rules. Namely, point the cursor at an object or location of interest, click the mouse button, and see what happens. To use an item, click and drag it from the inventory to the screen. Where is Grandpa? does this all correctly minus some issues with inventory, but here lies the end of the game’s success.
For hidden object games to work, everything must flow properly. The written word is important, and must be clear and understandable. Entrances and exits must be clearly marked. For easy players, hints such as “glittering” spots to examine must disappear when there is nothing left in that area. Where is Grandpa? fails to provide any consistency in all of these gameplay necessities. In fact, the game is riddled with errors that are just plain unacceptable.
Let’s start with the basics: spelling and grammar. Where is Grandpa? relies heavily on words to convey the story in addition to using them to tell the player what objects must be found. The game’s developer, ZigZag Soft, is (from what I can tell) Polish.The game’s publisher, Black Shell Media, is located in New Jersey. The game is only fully available in English, with subtitles for Polish available. Tip to game developers: if you are making a game with a 100 per cent English interface, invest in editors. How a company from the USA is willing to publish a game with such flawed English is beyond me, but here we are. The game is riddled with spelling errors (“scisors”). Even the game’s official banner says “Ferrum Secrets” and not “Ferrum’s Secrets.” At times words do not accurately describe what to look for, such as when the player is told to seek “bacon” but what you actually find is a steak. When a door says “closed” they really mean “locked” so use a key, but when the door is labelled as “locked” you need to bust it down with a mallet (what?!). Notes are often riddled with grammatical errors to the point of becoming comical. Actually, the most fun I had with the game was laughing at everything that didn’t make any sense.
While hidden object scenes are obviously the most important part of games labelled as “hidden objects,” puzzles tend to play a large part in allowing the story to progress; Where is Grandpa? is no different. For example, the player will need to turn off the right pipe valves to direct steam away from where they need to be. But the puzzles are unfortunately just as flawed as the grammar. In the pipe puzzle alone, there are certain angles that can never be seen so it becomes a guessing game of where to click. Other puzzles could easily be completed in five seconds with a few random clicks of the mouse. Then there are puzzles that make no logical sense in a world very much based on reality: at one point in time you are directed to put spider poison directly next to the cat and very near to its food, which goes directly against every common sensibility in my brain. Last I checked, cat plus poison equals dead cat.
Any help you may get by playing the easiest difficulty is absolutely useless. Sometimes hints just become unavailable for no reason. Other times, areas sparkle as though that’s where you should be look but cannot be used yet or no longer serve a purpose. The gameplay gets even worse, as hidden objects are sometimes 99 per cent hidden by the menu listing the items being searched for, and at that time it just because a came of blind luck to find them. Objects such as flowerpots can be knocked over for no reason; trust me when I say this is annoying because in the great hidden object games everything that is clickable or movable serves a specific purpose at some time. At times, you don’t know how to exit a room you just entered because no matter where you click, you’re still there… until one lucky click will get you back out.
At a time when the market is over-saturated with hidden object games, it takes a lot to actually make an impression on someone. Ferrum’s Secrets: Where is Grandpa certainly makes an impression, however it is more of a lingering annoyed feeling than anything good. The story is overdone, the gameplay is bad, and the grammar is atrocious. Even the most dedicated of hidden object fans would be unhappy with this title.
- Lindsay M.