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Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

MumboJumbo is busying itself with various PC-to-Nintendo DS translations, and whilst some are extremely successful (such as Puzzle Expedition), others have suffered during the transitional process (namely Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena). A year after originally appearing on PC, the first Midnight Mysteries game, The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy, has landed on Nintendo’s portable in slightly scaled-down format. Does this right the wrongs of the DS Samantha Swift, hopefully paving the way for an eventual handheld edition of Midnight Mysteries 2: Salem Witch Trials?

‘Macabre’ is not a word that is exactly used openly in the English language nowadays, yet when talking about British writers such as Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson, or US writer H.P. Lovecraft, it is the ideal term for the content of many of their works of prose. Edgar Allan Poe is another famous author / poet whose written output back in the 1800s more often than not fell into this particular category. Many will recall The Raven as one of his most famous poems, and this, along with several other of his creations, are referenced in MumboJumbo’s Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy, which centres its storyline on the mysterious circumstances surrounding Poe's death in 1849 at the age of 40 (another reference, for example, that pops up later in the adventure is the aptly titled The Stylus, known to some under Poe’s original name for the personal journal, The Penn).

Screenshot for Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The player takes on the role of a famed mystery writer down on their luck, desperately scratching around for the next cold case to crack, when suddenly a ghostly apparition (Poe) materialises with an invitation to bring peace unto him by unravelling the conspiracy around the previously unsolved 160-year-old happening. The first entry into the Midnight Mysteries series of hidden object games takes the formula found in Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena and drastically improves upon it for a highly engaging experience. Those who read the review of Samantha Swift and believed some of its core gameplay ideas sounded impressive, despite its unfortunate shortcomings in the presentation and difficulty stakes, will be pleased to hear that the developer has taken on-board much of the criticism and tweaked Midnight Mysteries to make this a far better end product all-round.

Screenshot for Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Proceedings kick off with the introduction of how to play, pointing out that the key element to remember is that there are numerous hidden objects dotted around each location visited, all of which must be uncovered by searching, finding and tapping on them with the stylus. Since each highly detailed area stretches far beyond the length and height of the lower DS screen, players can pan around by dragging the stylus across the field of play or using the D-pad. The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy offers up a list of items that need to be found before progression can be made, yet rather than bombarding the user with far too many items at once, it splits the total into groups of six, which works very well in terms of avoiding matters from becoming totally over-bearing that consequently encourages a 'tap-a-thon' nature of play to creep in. However, there is a drawback in the fact that there will be times when you definitely know certain items will soon be available, yet tapping on them too early is classed as a missed hit.

There are no time limits or points amassed in Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy, and thus no way to really penalise repeated mistakes (or the cheating technique of tapping repeatedly around the screen without logical thought). However, to help counter this flaw, MumboJumbo has introduced a little extra feature. The raven plays a significant role, with each one discovered introducing the ability to utilise an extra hint for finding an awkward item. Unable to locate something? Then use a hint to have it highlighted straight away by the dark bird. There is also the opportunity to tap on an item's name and see an image of it in a lantern on the top screen to aid with its unearthing (negating any frustration involved with not knowing what certain objects are). However, should players tap aimlessly too often, a cat springs upwards and scares away the winged aide for a short time. Whilst there is no ticking clock to work against you, the sheer annoyance of this occurrence definitely deters from 'cheating.'

Screenshot for Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The aim is to work through various tales from the late Edgar Allan Poe, collecting clues, talking to approximately thirty ghostly figures who provide witness statements and clues, plus solve everything in an in-game time span of 24 hours. This is not solely an exercise in finding hundreds of hidden objects, however, with certain tools being collected and stored for use at key points to either uncover super secret items or help solve the moderate number of puzzles squeezed into this shadowy journey. The variety in gameplay that helped prevent Samantha Swift from being a total disappointment is definitely back in full force for Midnight Mysteries, tweaked to make the adventure far more enjoyable and supported by enough extra content and challenge to actually help it last more than two hours. The only pertinent question remaining then is 'Are you to the task of finding out who killed Edgar Allan Poe?'

Screenshot for Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Great integration of hidden objects into the background, enjoyable puzzles, interesting interaction with various ghosts throughout the adventure to further the story, and a generally impressive story theme on the whole, Midnight Mysteries is an all-round success.

Graphics

Very impressive, highly detailed visuals with cleverly integrated items woven into the background, and heaps of that wonderful macabre style Poe is so famous for.

Sound

Chilling, haunting piano and string music that matches the shadowy tone of the game perfectly.

Value

The three main chapters can be worked through in around four-to-five hours of solid play, but it puts up more of a challenge than most games in this genre and keeps players gripped with its intriguing storyline.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Receiving a German release last month, sadly there has been no sign of Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy here in the UK so far, yet considering how successful games of a similar ilk, like Mystery Stories and Hidden Mysteries: Titanic, have been, it would be surprising if it never landed here at all, especially given how impressive this latest hidden object entry has turned out.

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14.12.2010

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Developer

MumboJumbo

Publisher

MumboJumbo

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

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John (guest) 21.12.2010 09:05#1

Good to see the problems with Samantha Swift have been fixed...AND it's out in Europe!

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