Also On: PC
I feel a little ashamed to admit this in civilized company, but I’m starting to consider myself something of a connoisseur of Alawar’s PS3 hidden object games. Mountain Crime: Requital? Fun, if a little overambitious. Twisted Lands: Shadow Town? Still fun, if a little nonsensical. And their release before Sacra Terra: Kiss of Death, Forest Legends: The Call of Love? A horrible case study in what happens when you remove hidden objects from a hidden object game.
(Side note: Boy, do Alawar ever have a thing for titles with colons in them.)
Which brings me to the aforementioned Sacra Terra. It’s good. Great, even, if we’re comparing it to Forest Legends, since, again, a hidden object game without hidden objects isn’t much of anything. In fact, not only does it have hidden objects to find, it also improves on that last game by featuring puzzles that are actually moderately difficult to solve. I know this is a low bar to clear, but it’s all worth mentioning, at the very least.
In other words, Sacra Terra is good in a relative sense. But is it good on any kind of absolute level? That’s a slightly harder question to answer. See, it’s still a hidden object game, and by their nature, those are seldom very good or very bad. If you’re going into it hoping for a mind-blowing experience, you’ll definitely feel a bit let down.
If, on the other hand, you just want a decent adventure game, then it should do the trick. The puzzles — hidden object and otherwise — are just challenging enough to be fun, but not so hard you end up spamming the hint buttons. Equally importantly, it’s got a fairly (well, relatively) easy-to-follow story: you’re trying to rescue your boyfriend (take that, trope!) from the clutches of an evil demon, and to do that you need to go through some portals to the past to help other lovers solve their problems. It’s not exactly Shakespeare, but considering how convoluted the plots have been in other Alawar games to date, the straightforwardness on display here is refreshing. Likewise, the graphics are significantly better; Alawar still have significant problems when it comes to making faces that don’t look like abominations, but otherwise the game is surprisingly nice to look at.
(Though speaking of abominable, it should be noted that Sacra Terra features the worst voice acting ever. Just freakishly awful in every respect.)
All of which is to say, the game is probably Alawar’s best on the PS3 since Mountain Crime: Requital. Admittedly, that’s kind of damning with faint praise, since we’re not exactly talking about GOTY candidates here. Nonetheless, it’s still a good, solid hidden object game — and if some of the ensuing titles are anything to go by, that’s a much more difficult achievement than you’d think.