Review: Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life
Posted 05 Jun 2011 at 21:23 by Mark Lee
|"It's the effort put in that City Interactive has to be commended on."|
In Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life Sylvie Leroux embarks on an adventure that spans multiple locations, each with a plethora of touch screen based puzzles. The story revolves around the aim of deciphering the tree of life and the weaving plot-line takes you all around the globe, enabling you to interact with numerous characters and team up with Count Saint-Germain, an intriguing character that wouldn't look out of place in any mystery adventure.
Due to Tree of Life's mysterious storyline we're not going to go too in-depth into the plot but fans of mystery games should be pleased with what City Interactive has crafted here.Those of you who love a good mystery know it's the quality of the story and the puzzles that define how engaging everything is. Watch an episode of Scooby Doo and you'll know that it's the mystery and puzzled characters that keep you hooked (or is it Daphne?) With the Chronicles of Mystery games City Interactive has a track record of delivering, and with Tree of Life the story engages you, grabs you and keeps you playing. It's like sitting down to briefly watch Murder She Wrote and noticing a good hour has passed. All good then.
Thankfully the puzzles turn this into so much more than just a cracking yarn. Enjoyable and variable the variety of puzzles on display is to be commended. The difficulty choices are also pitched nicely, ensuring that you can really test your mental ability or just soak up the story and atmosphere. As a gamer who can get frustrated when working out a puzzle to have the option (on the easiest settings) to skip them made the game much more accessible and enjoyable for me.
I also lost count of how many puzzles there were as one minute you may be working through multiple rooms swapping items around to get machines to work, the next you may be looking for a key and then the lock and finally deciphering notes to work out just where to go next. Varied, engaging and logical, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to being on the Crystal Maze!Thankfully the puzzles use the system's functionality frequently ensuring you'll be drawing, blowing and (if you have a DSi, DSi XL or 3DS) using the camera functionality. These little nods scream quality and we welcomed the variety on show from the first moment to the last.
The adventure lasts a good few hours thankfully. There is an element of replayability due to a rating format at the end of each chapter, meaning that if you just tapped the screen like mad when seeking items your score will be lower. Also, if you've skipped the puzzles or taken an age to work them out, so too will your rating be lower. Again, it's the effort put in that City Interactive has to be commended on.
The graphics, whilst being decent and doing the job, aren't anything to write home about. Primarily being 2D sprites set against static backgrounds they set the mood nicely. Finding an item amongst the backdrops is easily accomplished, which is a real achievement when out up against some other DS puzzlers.Music too is suitably arranged and gives you that mystery vibe. The fact that the music and graphics don't grate no matter how long you are on a puzzle or wandering the environments ensures it's a triumph.
Ultimately, The Secret Tree of Life follows City Interactive's previous DS chronicles successfully, proving that they can spin a good yarn and deliver a great set of puzzles along the way. It may not be for everyone, and it may not have the wide appeal that, say, Professor Layton may have, but City Interactive is a master of the adventure/mystery genre and their mastery of the DS platform is in full flow here. If adventure games are your bag, you can't go wrong here.
N-Europe Final Verdict
The Secret Tree of Life offers up an engaging story with numerous enjoyable puzzles. DS owners looking for an adult adventure mystery could do a lot worse.
Varied, enjoyable puzzles
Feels custom made for DS
Story requires investment
Middle of the road graphics