Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

2010 was the breakout year for Polish developer and publisher City Interactive, with it rising up from the world of PC adventures to delivering a selection of high quality products on the Nintendo DS. Towards the latter end of the year there was the extremely enjoyable Hidden Object tale, Vampire Moon: Mystery of the Hidden Sun, followed by the thoroughly fleshed out and immensely addictive crime thriller, Crime Lab: Body of Evidence, which included DSi-enabled functionality. Therefore, going back to 2009’s Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple proved very disappointing because the leap from that to 2010’s releases was massive, to say the least. Now, though, given the experience gained from previous projects, expectations are high for the sequel, Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life. Cubed3 delves in to see what shenanigans lead character Sylvie Leroux is getting up to this time.

In Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Spirit, young archaeologist Sylvie Leroux had to go on a mission to find a missing professor, avoid death at the hands of a sinister organisation, as well as get to the bottom of a mystery that dated back to the crusades and Knights Hospitaller order. Whilst extremely intriguing throughout, and spanning fifty locations, sadly the whole saga was actually over almost before it began, with everything being too simple to complete and barely any incentive to return upon completion.

For the new outing, Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life, Ms. Leroux’s skilful reputation precedes her and she is asked to head out on a journey to decipher the mystery of the illusive tree of life by joining forces with the enigmatic Count Saint-Germain who has lived for many more years than a mere mortal should. This involves travelling to seventy different locations that intertwine expertly with the tale, and are all littered with numerous styles of puzzles, conundrums, useful items to locate, hidden objects, and various other extras that help to make The Secret Tree of Life comprehensively superior to Curse of the Ancient Temple.

The standard of puzzles has definitely increased immensely, with players having to unearth potential locations of hidden symbols using a special tool before using other collected items to fully reveal them; guide Sylvie through a maze, picking up specifically coloured keys to unlock matching doors; re-arrange pieces of maps and tiles to form the correct image; unravel brain-teasing riddles to find the right route; test your reactions as different coloured balls drop from above; and so on. There is even one particular instance where players are treated to a Flight Control-esque challenge, having to quickly draw (and re-draw) the paths of various bugs running around an arena so that they reach their correct destinations without crashing into each other. The sheer variety on offer is admirable and testament to how City Interactive is becoming an expert at this particular genre.

Screenshot for Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The beauty of The Secret Tree of Life is that, just as with Crime Lab: Body of Evidence, there are some enhancements when played on a Nintendo DSi, DSi XL or 3DS, with certain tasks that make use of the internal camera functionality. Be it wiping dust off a wall or turning a crank handle, the implementation and execution of such puzzles is highly commended. They may only seem like small additions, but for those DSi, DSi XL, and now 3DS owners, hoping for more than just the region lock-out that companies like Ubisoft have been implementing lately, these supplementary puzzles are a welcomed inclusion. It may make you feel foolish when waving your hand around in front of the camera when on public transport, however.

Additionally, rather than being a stop-start affair, the story progresses in an extremely smooth manner, so despite actually being broken down into separate chapters it does not actually feel that way at all, with a strong level of story-puzzle integration included as well. When a specific scene has reached its climax, players receive a different rating dependant on their performance during that section, such as what penalties have been incurred for tapping three times quickly in the hidden object sections, how many special items have been located, whether or not mini-games have been skipped, and so on. Some of these are negated in the highest difficulty setting, however, since on the hardest setting there are no hints available to use at all, and players cannot skip any of the puzzles if they get stuck. The Secret Tree of Life may not be quite as lengthy as Crime Lab: Body of Evidence, but it definitely puts Curse of the Ancient Temple to shame in terms of longevity, as well as the overall complexity of brain-teasers mixed in. With a host of mini-game challenges, achievements to unlock and Hidden Object puzzles to play around with once the story is complete, players are in for yet another DS treat.

Screenshot for Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Everything that made the original enjoyable returns, complete with a whole host of new, devilishly tough (yet great fun) puzzles. The entire formula has been polished to near perfection and bodes well for future portable adventures from City Interactive.

Graphics

Impressively detailed environments that make great use of darker colouring for subtle tones, yet nothing ever becomes too murky that it is detrimental to the puzzles included.

Sound

Atmospheric, memorable soundtrack that is suitably fitting for the adventure, changing from peaceful and melodic tunes to mysterious themes where required.

Value

Whilst considerably longer, and trickier, than its predecessor, after being treated to an extremely hefty adventure with Crime Lab: Body of Evidence, The Secret Tree of Life falls a little shorter than expected.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

With Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret Tree of Life, City Interactive has delivered a stunning sequel to the best selling Curse of the Ancient Temple, expanding considerably upon the number and quality of puzzles included, the intrigue set by the storyline and the range of extras to keep players entertained once completed. Only the company’s previous release, Crime Lab: Body of Evidence, beats The Secret Tree of Life to the mantel of ‘Best DS Puzzle Adventure.’

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07.05.2011

5

10951

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Developer

City

Publisher

City

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Q1 2011   North America release date Q1 2011   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?
Yuri (guest) 07.05.2011 22:06#1

Another success for City Interactive on DS then? I don't mind waving my hand at the DSi camera for this Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

For those that aren't aware, this is already out in the US, but won't hit Europe until next Friday - 13th May! Considering the first game still lingers around the UK chart, I'd be surprised if this isn't a big hit as well.

Thoroughly deserves some great success Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

This came out in Europe on Friday. Is anyone thinking of picking it up, or has anyone actually bought it already?

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Anddy (guest) 01.07.2011 15:23#4

Thanks to this review i bought this game.9/10 for me. totally worth it.l actually enjoyed this more than Professor Layton.no joke. City interactive should make more games like this and crime lab.but with better production values instead of wasting money and resources on those horrible sniping games. That said this was a great buy.Smilie

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