Darkheart: Flight of the Harpies
Playing Darkheart – Flight of the Harpies reminded me of good old Artifex Mundi games, back when they used to create high quality titles. Developed by Lazy Turtle Games – a completely different company which has nothing to do with Artifex Mundi (I’m only mentioning them because they seem to be the reference name when it comes to HOGs) and published by HH-Games, Darkheart – Flight of the Harpies is a solid Hidden Object Game which brings a few innovative elements to the genre.
From the beginning, it’s pretty obvious that a lot of effort was put into creating this title. The scenery is breathtaking, full of vivid colors; the HOG scenes are varied and well done and the voice overs are pretty great as well. These are enough to keep the gameplay at a very enjoyable level, but what I really liked about this title was the fact that there were a lot of mini-cutscenes. Whenever there was an action to be performed in between picking up items or solving puzzles, it was “acted out” through a short (2-3 seconds) cutscene. And the fact that these moments were very often contributed a lot to the immersion into an already pleasant and easy to follow story.
Set in medieval times, the game focuses on the adventures of a young woman whose parents were abducted by a mysterious dark force. She embarks on a quest to find them, on a journey full of magic and mythical creatures. On the way, she meets various characters that will end up accompanying her and helping her fight the evil sorcerer. They are integrated into the story in a very creative and innovative manner – you will actually be required to actively enlist their help in solving certain puzzles by clicking their portraits and placing them into the scenery, but they will also give you tasks to find special items that they need. The bonus chapter also has a similar mechanic, namely that you will be able to use the 4 main elemental powers (earth, water, fire and air) to solve quests by casting the spells (for example using earth to help a plant grow, or filling a pit with water in order to lift an unreachable object).
In terms of difficulty, the puzzles are fairly easy and accessible and you can play the game in one of the 3 standard difficulties and additionally a custom one. There is a map that shows you the available actions (on Easy Mode) and serves as a fast travel, but there’s also a hint system and a whole in-game guide that acts like a full walkthrough, including solutions to the puzzles and hidden object scenes. The game is extremely flexible and lets the player choose the degree of challenge that they prefer.
Darkheart – Flight of the Harpies is a wonderful, 3.5-4h long HOG. For some period of time after the release, the achievements related to collectibles were broken, but they have been recently removed, enabling the possibility to obtain 100% completion. The forum threads mention some bugs here and there, but apart from some small grammar errors, I did not encounter any issues with my gameplay.