This latest release from G5 Games and Vogat follows closely in the footsteps of previous games, mixing adventure, puzzles and hidden object sections into one package. However, while this will prove satisfying for casual gamers, it is something of a disappointment when compared to this duo’s previous release, the much more engaging Temptation.

As is so often the case in this type of game, the player is put in the shoes of a young woman who must solve a particularly baffling mystery. The game starts in blissful fashion as a young and attractive couple set out on their honeymoon, which takes them to a seemingly idyllic mansion in the woods. However, it doesn’t take long for things to take a turn for the creepy, as the landlady reveals herself to be an unhinged murderess with a penchant for handsome young men. And guess who is next on her list? What follows is a grim and somewhat bizarre quest as the plucky bride sets out to recover her man, and finds herself up resorting to Native American magic in order to solve the mystery.

While the story shows some promise, with its strong central female character, a beautiful but ultimately sinister setting and a neat hook to the narrative, it quickly falls apart. There are some genuinely horrific shocks and unsettling moments to be encountered, but these are sadly undone by the inane and inappropriately cheery scenes and dialogue which intersperse them. Instead of a bold modern horror story we are left with the equivalent of a cheap TV movie. The story will certainly keep casual audiences happy enough, but this does feel like a missed opportunity to create something more striking.

The problems with the story could be forgiven if the game’s other elements were up to scratch, but again it fails to deliver in this area too. For example, the puzzles on display here veer wildly between wilfully obscure and ridiculously easy. There are some interesting uses of touch screen technology to liven them up but moments of frustration are all too common when it just isn’t apparent what exactly you are supposed to do. Matters are not helped when solutions given in the strategy guide don’t actually match up with the information as it is revealed in the game itself, giving rise to frequent use of the skip button. Such problems are further compounded by the unresponsive controls which make it difficult to manipulate objects in the more interactive sections.

For casual gamers, and adventure fans in particular, this is sure to prove a satisfying if forgettable addition to the genre. For those with higher expectations however, this falls short when compared to the competition and particularly with games from the same developer. Although challenging, largely due to the confusing nature of some of the puzzles, the constant trekking back and forth between locations soon becomes annoying. Furthermore, the story itself runs out of steam not long after its promising opening, descending quickly into the stuff of paperback fiction and when the end comes unexpectedly quickly, it is not without a certain sense of relief. This isn’t a bad game, merely below average and in a crowded marketplace, there is little here to make it stand out enough to be memorable.

iTunes link: Silent Valley: Mystery Mansion HD


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