Relaxation Mode is cranked up to 11 in this simplistic watercolour hidden object game.
Genre: Hidden Object
Developer: Circus Atos
Publisher: Circus Atos
Release Date: 27 Apr, 2017
You start off on a world map with 21 dotted circles on it. Each level is associated with an animal from that region, and as you complete the levels the map gradually fills with pictures of these animals.
You’re introduced to a level by clicking the X on the central animal, which then shows you a speech bubble containing several small icons of the objects you’re looking for (small animals, seeds, fish etc), and the number of items to be found. The overall canvas is split between 3-5 screens, and as you find/click the objects you move on to the next either via the white arrows, or by dragging. You can zoom in and out by double-clicking and then drag the screen around to inspect each area of the panel. When you find the final item you then report back to the main animal whereupon there’s a very short animation of baby animals appearing, plants growing or a shoal of fish swimming by. And that, ladies and gentlemen, describes the entire game.
There’s no options menu, but you can do ALT-ENTER to switch to windowed, which you can drag to resize, but you’ll have to use system controls for the sounds.
Everything is in watercolour, with themes to match the type of environment: pale blue/ white in the arctic region; bright greens for South American jungle; browns and oranges for Africa and European woodlands; darker greens for Asian forests; dark blues for the Southern Ocean.
You would normally expect a variety of different items to find in this type of game, but here every object in the level is identical apart from being different shades of the same colour. The idea is that the items are camouflaged against the background.
Art is subjective, of course, but for me it’s just too basic, with very few elements to hold my interest. Erm, did I mention there are some animals?
Relaxing background noises of the outdoors: birds twittering, water running, parrots squawking etc. accompanied by gentle piano tinklings and, as expected, zen-like Japanese string instruments.
There is none, really. Half of the game could easily be completed by a 5 year old. The other half I guess you’d need to have reached the grand old age of 7. The zoom feature expands to exactly a quarter of the original screen size, so you can systematically inspect each quarter close-up, and at this point the objects are almost impossible to miss. As if it wasn’t easy enough already, there’s even a hint option – you have to solve a 3×3 sliding-squares puzzle which is already close to completion before you start and only requires 3-4 moves, which then highlights an undiscovered object.
There are trading cards and 21 achievements – one for each level, plus one for completing without hints. It’s fully cross-platform (Unity game) but no Steam Cloud.
The artwork shows a naive innocence and I think this also extends to the marketing side of things because somebody is blissfully unaware of the quality of games available in this price range. I might pay $1-2 for this to keep the kids happy for a couple of hours, but full price? No chance.
I can’t resist the urge to make a quip about it being like watching paint dry, literally. It’s not quite that bad though. It performs well, no glitches or irritations, and the soothing outdoor sounds can give you the illusion of not being a helpless video game addict, even if you are. It’s marginally better than watching cat videos on YouTube – at least there are other animals here.