Faircroft’s Antiques: Home for Christmas
Faircroft’s Antiques: Home for Christmas is the third of five installments in the Faircroft’s Antiques hidden object games series and is quite a noticeable step up from the first game in terms of graphics’ sharpness and design. The story is good, yet perhaps a tad less entertaining than the rest of the games in the series – although being on the light side and sprinkled with some little life wisdom here and there, it’s still very enjoyable and nice to read.
The games follow the adventures of Mia Faircroft – a young art restorer who travels all around the world and helps people refurbish their antiques, but also mends their hearts with her positive and kind personality.
In Faircroft’s Antiques: Home for Christmas Mia and her best friend Maria go back to Mia’s hometown Mikamaw Point for an extended Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation. Reconnecting with her family is certainly refreshing as well as much needed, but since Mia is quite the workaholic, she doesn’t waste any time to find something to do in town and help the townsfolk here and there with all sorts of errands, putting up decorations, gathering Christmas donations for charities and overall aiding the town to prepare for the holidays. On top of that, she tries to do her best to help Maria overcome the grief of recently having lost her dad by accompanying her to all sorts of fun activities.
Faircroft’s Antiques: Home for Christmas is an old-style HOG that focuses more on hidden object scenes and minigames and less on the adventure aspect, which is basically almost non-existent here. Instead, the sheer amount of conversations between the characters and their identity development could indeed place the Faircroft games at the border between a HOG and a visual novel.
There is a good variety of hidden object scenes, consisting of identifying objects based on a list of items, their image, on their silhouette or simply by solving a mini-riddle. There is also a hint button that recharges very fast and which one could use when stuck on an item.
The game has 20 chapters in total, each of them inviting the player to solve around five different hidden object scenes and a couple of minigames. Several dialogue lines are presented before and after every scene and they are designed in such a way that the locations can be visited in any order without spoiling the story or having these conversations affected in any way.
In regards to the story, the games can be played independently of each other, and apart from Maria who was introduced earlier in the series, there are no recurring characters. As such, no knowledge from the previous games is needed to understand the story. Also, the plot lines of the five installments do not have any other connections with each other and can be experienced as standalone games.
All the locations are beautifully drawn, decorated for Christmas, filled with items that bring out the holiday spirit in everyone: stockings, gingerbread men, Christmas trees, candy canes and overall a very wintery scenery, all of these contributing to a cozy atmosphere. The objects to find seem to be randomly generated, and they appear slightly on top of the background (they don’t fully blend), which makes them stand out a little bit, but this way they’re easier to find. This is by no means something bothersome, and it doesn’t look “cheap” or “glued on”, but it does break the immersion a tiny bit. On the other hand, the color palette is consistent and harmonious throughout the game and even if some of the objects don’t seem to fit in the context of the scene (which is a given with all the HOGs), they’re placed in rather intuitive locations on the screen, somewhere where you would expect them to be.
One characteristic of the Faircroft’s Antiques games that I particularly like is the scene arrangement. The locations are presented in a Monopoly-board-like manner with a map of the city in the center and the 20 different scenes displayed around its outside border, linked to buildings that are highlighted on the map when mousovering their corresponding location. The ones that you can’t visit in a chapter are grayed out, while the active ones also indicate whether you have to solve a hidden object scene or a minigame. You can therefore choose which of the locations you want to visit first, namely which storylines you want to explore first. Mia also tells the player at the beginning of the chapter what goals she needs to pursue and which locations correspond to each of these goals.
Faircroft’s Antiques games are a must-buy for HOG lovers, especially since they cost close to half of an Artifex Mundi game and offer twice (or in some cases even three times) the playtime and depending on the case and on your taste, a more entertaining and well-crafted story. Faircroft’s Antiques: Home for Christmas sadly does not offer any Steam achievements, and there are no plans on adding some in the future, therefore if you’re looking for a game to play that also rewards some easy achievements, then Faircroft’s Antiques: The Forbidden Crypt is the one to go to.