City of Secrets

Posted by Peter Rootham-Smith.
First posted on 03 February 2012. Last updated on 03 February 2012.
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City of Secrets
Moles searches for his friend Rex who has gone missing.
City of Secrets
Beetroots and other delights are for sale at the market.
City of Secrets
Moles learns that Rex has been locked up in a prison.
City of Secrets
A guard stands outside of the mayor's home.
City of Secrets
Viva la remoleution!

City of Secrets is a point-and-click adventure game from Polish newcomer and indie game developer Aidem Media (or aideMMedia). The game has been released on a range of platforms, including the iOS, Linux, Mac, and PC. The game harks back to the classic era of graphic adventure games. Unlike those games of yore, however, this game features 3D character models and 2D hand drawn backgrounds. The game also includes a friendly built-in comprehensive hint system that may lessen the frustration some players will otherwise experience when solving a few of the game's more obscure puzzles.

The plot centers on a quest by Moles (a mole) to rescue his friend Rex (a dog) who has fallen down a hole—not just any ordinary hole, but a hole to a strange city of revolutionary moles. To extricate Rex from the prison where he has been locked up after his capture, Moles must complete a series of absurd quests in what is best described as a comedy adventure. There is no doubt that a good dollop of imagination from the developer has gone into building this unique world, as exemplified by a part of the game that actually requires the players to navigate through the insides of a giant snake. The game, however, tends to overstress itself as an adventure game, constantly breaking the fourth wall with dialogs that get in the way of playing the game itself.

Gameplay is largely comprised of inventory based puzzles. However, there is an arcade like puzzle with sorting garbage which some players may find difficult to beat. Fortunately, the dogeiros (money) that is earned from beating this puzzle can be obtained to some extent by other means. The cursor nearly always highlights itself whenever it hovers over a hotspot, except when Moles is holding an inventory item which disables the highlighting. The hint system can also be activated to show all the hotspots in a scene, but the hotspots it shows include those that are no longer active. Some of the hotspots are not immediately active but are activated only after some trigger actions are completed. In a particular scene, the game requires the players to point and drag, not point and click, to complete some specific actions, even though the game gives no specific hint to the players that there is a need to do so.

There are no timed puzzles per se in the game, but some of the puzzles have a timed strategy element such as keeping out of the way of the rats and the likes. There is also a maze to navigate through, but there are no instant death traps. Some of the puzzles have extremely odd solutions that carry the absurd logic too far.

The graphics are colorful and cheerful, as if the game is aimed for a younger audience. The background arts are well done, and the character models have adequate details. There are no tooltips for the inventory items which may have been useful. Cut scenes are done using the in-game engine. The background music, which changes with each scene, comprises of mostly cool jazz. The music does not get in the way of playing and avoids the feeling of emptiness in scenes without background sounds.

The game is fully voiced, with subtitled dialogs. Alas, the poorly translated dialogs clearly shows that English is not the native language of the development team. The awkward writings do not necessarily detract from the gameplay, but the obvious mistakes are readily disconcerting. The voice acting is suited for a comedy adventure and does not take itself too seriously. Some of the voices sound distinctly bored, though those performances may have been intentional.

The game plays smoothly. The only annoying glitch is that sometimes all of the game saves are tagged with the same thumbnail at the load screen. Loading and saving games are both quick. There are only 6 save slots. The hint system can be turned on and off at any time, even in mid game. The game also offers a good introductory tutorial for novice players.

City of Secrets is a fun point-and-click adventure game with an appealing visual style. However, poor English translation and obscure puzzle logics may turn away some gamers.

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