By: Armaan Khan
Technically, I should love Elementary My Dear Majesty. After all, I love hidden object games, I love “save the princess” stories, and I love comic absurdity. EMDM has all those elements, and it begins and ends strongly enough, but the padded-out middle and repetitive puzzles take what should have been a charming little title and turn it into a chore.
At Your Service
The story begins with you receiving a letter from the king commanding you to come to the castle and help the princess who has been transformed into a monster. Things get complicated when she is kidnapped by the Martian king, forcing you to embark on an interplanetary rescue mission to get her back. The story is functional and unimpressive, but it’s made more interesting by the world around it. You’ll interact with all sorts of kooky human and non-human characters in your quest to find everything you need to get to Mars. The dialogue in these interactions isn’t going to win any awards, but it contains enough witty and entertaining moments to keep you interested.
The gameplay is the usual hidden object shenanigans with a 3D twist. Elementary My Dear Majesty is billed as the first fully 3D hidden object game, and that’s a claim I’m willing to believe since the 3D feels more like an under-utilized gimmick than an integral part of the experience. You can only rotate the environment up to 45 degrees left and right from the default position, and can only zoom in to 2x and back. The accompanying art is what I’d describe as “charmingly lo-fi,” but others might call “basic” and possibly even “amateurish.” Despite these shortcomings, introducing 3D does add a new dimension to the hidden object genre, and it’ll be interesting to see what developers do with it in future games.
At…Your… <sigh>… Service
Finding random hidden things will take up about half your time in the game. The other half will be spent solving various puzzles, and here’s where the game starts to break down. Most of the puzzles are mindless, repetitive, and boring. There are a few interesting ones – a series where you have to light up Christmas trees was quite entertaining – but most are just dull. You’ll have to play memory-matching games where making a wrong move means starting all over from the beginning. You’ll click on slowly moving colored balloons, which will also result in being throw to the start of the level. These are just a few examples of the uninspired list of puzzles you’ll have to play over and over again.
As bad as the puzzles are, they aren’t the worst part of the game. No, the worst part of Elementary My Dear Majesty is the busywork. Once I got to the mid-game, where I had to find the five components required to get into space, I started to get the distinct feeling that I was being jerked around.
I’ll illustrate with an example. One of the needed things is a star map, which the pirate captain just happens to have. He wasn’t willing to give it to me, however, because his crew was in mutiny. Now, I’ve played enough games over the last thirty years to know that you never get something for nothing, no matter how dire the situation, so I was willing to accept this. Additionally, each of the half-dozen crew members was willing to give up the mutiny if I helped him with a task, which is, again, par for the course in gaming, so no big deal. I go around helping the crew out one by one, get everything back in order, and return to the captain for my star map as a reward. He says no and gives me another task, then another one after that.
This happens in practically every level in the mid-game. You meet a character who will help you if you help them and, when you complete their initial task, they demand more and more until they finally begrudgingly give you what you’re looking for. It gets incredibly annoying, especially since the majority of those tasks require you to solve the aforementioned boring puzzles and turn what started out as an interesting game into a complete chore. On the plus side, the very last level was quite entertaining, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the snore-inducing mid-section.
I also have issues with the Elementary My Dear Majesty outside of the game itself. The installer won’t let you choose your installation directory, which I know will bother some people, and it also prompts you to install the Ask.com toolbar as well as the Alawar Games Box, which is apparently just a list of the other games they have published. Both of these are optional, but the inclusion of things like this aggravates me in the installation procedure for any software.
After installation is complete, the game launcher serves as nothing more than a big ad for Alawar’s other games, and serves no useful purpose otherwise. I mean, they could have at least disguised their adware by letting you configure options or something, like most other game launchers do.
Is it Worth the Money?
Elementary My Dear Majesty is a game that’s fun at times, funny at others, but boring for a whole lot in between. It starts strong and ends strong, but feels dragged out in the middle, as if it was padded to artificially increase the length. I didn’t walk away from it feeling like I had a good time, which is why I can’t recommend it, even to the most die-hard hidden object game fans. There are more interesting games of this type out there, ones that increase their length by improving their plot and not by adding in random task after random task to waste your time. You’re much better off finding one of those to spend your money on.
Elementary My Dear Majesty Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 5 hours (Played it out twice)
- Widescreen Support – Yes
- 5.1 Audio – No
- DRM – Keycode Activation
- Control Scheme – Keyboard/Mouse
- System Specs – Intel Quad @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, Radeon 4800
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- Availability – Alawar
- Demo – Yes
- Bugs – None for me, but Adam reports a crash bug at the end game on his system
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[Note from Adam Ames: When at all possible, two members of TPG will play the same game to offer differing opinions to our readers. During the last phase of playing Elementary My Dear Majesty when trying to put the bow on the cat in the use circle, I experienced a crash to the desktop preventing me from finishing the game. The exact issue occurred on a completely different playthrough and profile after re-installing the game. The normal PC troubleshooting steps were taken, but nothing fixed the issue. I was never able to see the ending.]