Things are not what they seem in Phantasmat, the latest game from Codeminion. A car crash, a desperate girl, a mysterious old hotel and a submerged town set the scene in this thrilling adventure. Can you successfully escape this phantasmal town and get help or will you end up becoming part of the scenery? Use your hidden object and puzzle-solving skills to get to the bottom of a long-forgotten tragedy in this adventure game!
Phantasmat is the latest game from Codeminion, the developers of hit games such as Brunhilda and Saqqarah. Phantasmat is a worthy successor, containing the same strong adventure storyline and amazing graphics you would expect from a game with such a pedigree. This time, the story is set in a foreboding forest surrounding a cold and dark lake with a tragic history.
The game begins as you are driving along a deserted road during a heavy downpour. Suddenly, ghostly apparitions appear on your windshield, causing you to lose control of the car. One car crash later (described in awesome animated glory), you find yourself stranded at the bottom of a ravine in a foreboding forest. As you head to a nearby hotel to use the phone to call for help, you find that there's something really wrong with the place. A cemetery by the lake, a submerged town IN the lake, and the hotel with a name like Drowned Dead Hotel is not very reassuring either.
The adventure begins in earnest as you try to figure out how to get out of this mess and get help for both yourself and a possibly-mad young lady who looks oh-so-friendly. The first thing you will notice is that the story really grabs you, and definitely takes center stage in this game. The original story (with a few cliches thrown in) has that sense of mystery and urgency that makes you want to find out more rightaway. You may have seen similar stories before, and may even be able to guess how this one ends, but it is so well-written that you are guaranteed to be thoroughly entertained as you experience this thrilling journey.
Unfortunately, a great story will not work if it is not well implemented in a game. Luckily, Phantasmat boasts an elegant interface and features artwork that is really stunning. The high quality of the artwork is similar to some of the best games in the genre such as the Mystery Case Files games, successfully bringing to life the cold, wet and dark feel of the story. There is also a lot of animation in the game, making it feel more "real". Everything from the many story cutscenes to the ambient effects like water ripples and scurrying insects are all animated to make the game come alive. The moody music, creepy sound effects and good voice acting also contribute to making the game a great entertainment package.
However, no matter how good the story and art are, the gameplay is still important. (After all, this is an adventure game, not a cartoon video) Thankfully the gameplay does not disappoint. You experience the adventure through the standard main interface where you can see your immediate surroundings as well as any items you pick up during your travels. In each scene, you will be able to move to adjoining areas and will be able examine various items and areas more closely.
Examining things up close will launch either a puzzle or a hidden object scene with the purpose of either unlocking subsequent zones or obtaining an item needed to solve another puzzle. The hidden object scenes are beautifully drawn and feature items that are fairly difficult to spot. In keeping with the creepy spirit of the game, you are sometimes required to find items such as hands and dead birds! Another unique feature in Phantasmat is that you can choose to play a Match-3 game in order to find the hidden objects. Sometimes in a hidden object game, you can get tired of the constant hidden object scenes. This game has the perfect solution, and you can choose whether you want to find the hidden items via the traditional means or via a Match-3 game.
The puzzles are pretty entertaining too. There are many different types of puzzles, including combination puzzles and the classic puzzle where you need to obtain 4 gallons of water using only a 5-gallon and a 3-gallon bottle. There are also puzzles that involve entire zones, such as having to navigate through the maze-like forest. As with other adventure games, you will also find items or clues that will help you solve puzzles that you previously encountered, requiring you to travel back and forth between zones.
It may seem like high praise, but Phantasmat certainly looks like a great adventure game and a complete entertainment package. You will love it if you liked similar thriller adventure games such as Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove. The basic version of the game is not available yet, but you can get the Collector's Edition which includes exclusive extras such as bonus adventure, replayable levels and more.
Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
You can read more about Phantasmat at http://www.hidden-puzzles.com/phantasmat.html