The Twilight Zone Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac Developer/Publisher: Legacy Games Price: $6.95 Entering The Twilight Zone First off, this is neither an adventure nor action game which will disappoint many fans who were expecting something of that nature. It is instead a casual “Hidden Objects” game where you are given a list of items and must find them in the stage. Although this isn’t as exciting, it can actually be enjoyable once you get into it. Every stage’s design revolves around an episode of The Twilight Zone. In the stage selection screen, there are also some floating characters that can be interacted with who come from various episodes as well. For those of you unfamiliar with how the Hidden Objects genre works, the screen shows a scene inspired by an episode that contains many objects. The list you’re given contains objects that are scattered across the screen and must be clicked on to be considered “found”. The game attempts to include variation by randomizing the object list each time and also changing the style of the list. At times you’ll be given the names of the objects, other times you’ll be given a silhouette of them, and even a word list but with scrambled characters so that you have to decipher the names. There is a timer as well so you must find all the objects before time runs out. Fortunately there are also some items that you can use that can either offer hints or even find the batch of items from the list instantly. These items can be earned as rewards or purchased with the in-game currency which is rewarded to you after completing a stage. The search is on! Sometimes it’ll be dark or foggy to make things harder. RPG meets Hidden Objects While I am not too familiar with this genre, I have played simple Hidden Objects games before but none of them had included an RPG element which made this game a lot more interesting. On a less positive note, it also created some flaws which I’ll revisit later on. For completing a stage, you earn XP and currency. It is the equivalent of defeating an enemy in a typical RPG. You can also earn XP and currency by doing side quests. These side quests consist of unlocking a particular item from a level, crafting a particular item by having the necessary components, or banishing one of the floating characters in the level selection screen. Why do you need to level up, you ask? In order to unlock stages, you need to meet its level requirements. Every stage is replayable and it is recommended to replay the higher reward stages to level up faster. Following the trend of RPGs, you have a XP progression counter and also a “sanity” counter. Every stage drains a certain amount of sanity and you must have enough sanity to play it. If you don’t have enough you’ll have to use an item to replenish it or wait until it slowly regenerates. There’s even an item that increases your max sanity which comes in handy. Items can also temporarily increase XP and currency earned. Enter another part of The Twilight Zone. Banishing made simple. Not the finest episode Although the RPG elements do make this genre a bit more interesting, the way the level requirements are implemented cause boredom and frustraton in the later stages. After you reach level 20, it is more of a pain to level up and replaying the same old stages several times is no longer as amusing. The side quests also grow stale quickly as they are essentially the same but with increasing demands. For example, you might have to banish a previously banished character for 30 times, instead of 10. Fortunately these side quests are optional. To get through the XP grind, I had to stock up on a particular item that cleared the level for me. This made leveling much quicker but at this point, the fun factor had suffered significantly. I would imagine that even a casual gamer (who is the intended audience) would be frustrated by this as well. Less demanding level requirements might have eased the frustration or perhaps introducing some mini-games at this point to vary the ways of XP grinding. The quest of the craft. Too bad it’s just for decoration… What would Rod Serling say? The graphics aren’t the best but the artwork and general feel of the game definitely conveys The Twilight Zone. Considering that the original episodes were in black and white, the colorful stages are a nice treat for fans of the show. The objects are also often cleverly hidden and actually provide a challenge. The main problem with the game lies within the leveling requirements and the lack of variance in gameplay. This is a shame as the game starts off good and managed to hold my attention for a good while despite not being the typical target audience. I don’t know how much of a gamer Rod Serling was but I’d take a guess that he would have appreciated the artwork and other references to his show in the game. Pros: +Simple but fun gameplay (for fans of the genre) +Artwork successfully homages The Twilight Zone +Interesting implementation of RPG elements Cons: -Forgettable main storyline -Excessive repetition kills the fun after a while -Past level 20, leveling up becomes rather boring -Side quests lack creativity -Not enough depth to capture the long-term attention of less casual gamers For non-casual gamers, it’s hard to become fully mesmerized in this version of The Twilight Zone. However, it does deserve merit for its successful homage to the TV show with its artwork and other references. For the genre, the gameplay delivers what you’d expect but it is unfortunate that as the end approaches, players are plagued with forced repetition in order to unlock the later stages which undermine the experience. Taking into consideration the price of admission and what the game does right, this episode concludes with a 6/10. There is a trial available to try it out. Disclosure: A review copy was used to evaluate this game.