Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy

The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy is a point and click Hidden Object game where the goal is to find all the items on your list at each location and to solve minor puzzles along the way. The storyline involves travelling into Poe's stories and into the past in order to find out how he really died and save his soul.

I was immediately struck by how attractively the many scenes were drawn, and surprised that there is even some limited animation, such as a light fog rolling in over the town. I think the visual quality is high enough to be passable in a hardcore point and click adventure game, which makes it all the more impressive that they were able to implement these graphics in a low budget casual title with a limited release.

The only disappointment in the graphics department is due to the nature of the gameplay. Since this is a hidden object game, there is a multitude of STUFF everywhere. For the most part, the items are correct to the current time and location, but the logic, placement and scale are often ridiculous, and serve as a constant reminder that you're playing a silly hidden object game and not something deeper.

Occasionally, the gameplay does something just a little different than letting you search around for things. This is always a bit of a treat. It might be something like spotting the differences between two screens, reassembling a torn up letter, or finding some way to combine a few of the hidden objects you found to open up a new area (where there will undoubtedly be even more hidden items). The opportunity for new kinds of puzzles was always exciting, but none were compelling for long. The developers were probably were afraid of scaring away the target audience by shaking things up too much.

I'm not as familiar with Poe's writing as I probably should be, but I loved when I encountered references I recognized, such as the location of the murder from The Cask of Amontillado. But while the atmosphere is wonderfully sinister, and there are a lot of references, there isn't very much to the story of saving Poe. Some scenes have characters that you can learn information from, and there is a clear progression to the overall story, but like the game itself, it all felt very oversimplified and rushed.

Unfortunately, this game was far too short and easy, even for a game with the casual branding. There's no time limit for solving puzzles, unlike every other game of this type I've sampled. And there's apparently no way to fail at anything whatsoever, although I never tried to lose in order to find out. The hidden hint-giving ravens are far too numerious and easy to find, meaning that the hint system is basically broken, allowing for the game to practically play itself much of the time. If you make too many clicks on things that aren't the correct object, the raven will fly away and become unavailable, but this lasts for all of 20 seconds.

I really have nothing against casual games and I might even try some more in this hidden item genre in the near future. But just because something isn't designed for the hardcore gamer doesn't mean it can't have a little depth or a little challenge now and again. This game is worth checking out for those who know Poe's stories inside and out, and those who want to pass some time while admiring some of the nice artwork. Don't get it for the gameplay. There are surely more substantial hidden object games out there than this one.