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Cateia Games Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix review

Kat Orphanides
1 Aug 2011
Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
7.95
inc VAT

The Strix is an atmospheric and well-designed puzzler, even if it's not destined to be an eternal classic

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Mina Lockheart is a young woman driven by nightmares and a strange sense that that the legacy of her grandmother, dead 17 years, could go beyond the old estate and mysterious amulet that she inherited. Returning to her grandmother's home, she finds part of it in a state of decay, while some rooms seem almost untouched by the passage of time. Events take a stranger turn as she discovers her heritage as the protector of the Pozoj Creek mountains against a malevolent spirit called The Strix.

Although the game has the plot and trappings of an adventure, it's actually a casual puzzler. It has more variety than your average hidden object game, though. Admittedly, you'll find many areas with fragments of puzzles cunningly concealed about them, which have be found before you can assemble them like a jigsaw. However, you'll also find adventure game style fetch-quests, object puzzles - including an archetypal potion-mixing quest - and simple logic puzzles such as sliding blocks. You have an inventory and can use objects in it with each other to work towards solving other puzzles. A hint system that gives varying degrees of help depending on your selected difficulty level means that you don't have to go running to the internet if you get stuck.

Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix

Early puzzles see you exploring your grandmother's home and freeing trapped sprits to enlist their aid. We were particularly taken by a handful of puzzles that required us to use things we'd learned elsewhere to solve them, even something as simple as remembering - when we encountered a darkened crypt - to use the same box of matches we'd used to light a stove before. There are a handful of games that deviate from the simple object-combination or object-finding models, such as a tile-matching game played against a dragon, but these are few and far between.

There's an excellent sense of place and atmosphere. The game world comprises lovingly made still images, which are particularly lush in outdoor areas. The transition between areas sometimes feels a little abrupt, though. The inexplicably verdant gardens behind a house that had such a decayed façade could have afforded a little more explanation, for instance. There's little animation, and it's rather clumsy, but not so much as to spoil the sense of place.

The gentle soundtrack fits the game's pace and style perfectly. There's very little voice acting, but it's competent, if not amazing. There's not much plot, either: discover heritage, solve puzzles, kill bad guy. However, it's a lot more than you get from your average puzzle game. We were absorbed, even though Mina, her quest and the forest spirits she encounters are essentially set dressing.

A gentle pace, soothing music and otherworldly atmosphere make this an ideal casual game - perfect for when you want to put your feet up after a hard day's work. However, more complex logic problems would have been very welcome. Hidden object games are ten a penny - there are several good ones that you can add for free as Chrome web apps. The variety and atmosphere of The Strix stand out from the crowd and make it worth buying if you want some relaxing puzzle action. However, although it kept us busy and we'd happily play a sequel, it's not a game that'll stick in our memory for years to come.

Details

Price£8
Detailswww.cateia.com
Rating***

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