Darkarta: A Broken Heart’s Quest Collector’s Edition is a 2D hidden object puzzle adventure game fueled by the story of a mother searching for her kidnapped child and accented with Indian mythology and beauty. This is Tuttifrutti Interactive’s first game to appear on Steam – the platform I used to play this game on my computer – however this does not appear to be their first game. Either way, I was attracted to the title because of my love for hidden object games, henceforth referred to as HOGs. The game showed much promise and caused some buzz among fans of this genre, though I jumped in with no bias, ready to have a fun time.
You step into the role of Mary, who is both a wife and mother, as well as a Harvard graduate. Nice life, if I do say so myself. Your family of three is on a boat sailing to a remote island after an invitation from your previously-assumed-to-be dead grandfather. Tragedy strikes as your boat is attacked by Darkarta and your daughter Sophia is taken away. With your husband now injured, Mary alone must save her beloved offspring as well as uncover the truth about herself, her family, and why she was brought there in the first place. Your journey to save Sophia will take Mary to many different locations, from beautiful islands with Indian mystique to even the underworld itself.
Mary is determined to save her child, no matter what the risk, and the game makes sure to remind us of this constantly. Many cut-scenes are just of Sophia crying and asking for her mama and Mary restating her resolve to find her child. The mother searching for her child is a common and very overused trope with HOGs so I wasn’t too impressed with the choice to go down that route here. The game does try to add variety by also mixing in the story of doomed lover Ameeha and Anantha, as well as linking the two to Mary’s past life. The story does get a bit convoluted in terms of this; Mary is shown as a very nice woman and caring mother but the entire game is really a product of bad choices her former self made and lingering curses. I felt slightly insulted that because of actions in a past life, now Mary is suffering and an innocent child is kidnapped and about to be killed, everything seemed like a melodramatic soap opera. However, I did not dislike the story and I did feel invested in seeing it until its conclusion despite it being predictable.
Whatever this game lacks in story it makes up for with gameplay. This title offers a striking amount of variety that isn’t often seen in HOGs. There are a lot of puzzles in this game that offer a decent level of challenge to players. Some are pretty easy and others will require you putting on your thinking cap, however I didn’t find myself frustrated with any of them. Another plus are the hidden object scenes. While I would have personally enjoyed having more of these in the game, you do get a good variety of them and none are revisited which is always a plus. While there are a few of your standard scenes where you’re given a list of items to find, some border on actual puzzles themselves. Having to find certain items, put them in the right spot, move items around and a lot more. There aren’t many “simple” scenes in this game; players will either enjoy this or be disappointed. I for one was happy with the assortment of challenges.
Since this is a point-and-click game, players need only use a mouse to get through to the end. You click on characters to chat with them, you click on items to interact with them as well and, of course, for the puzzles and hidden object scenes. You have an inventory to hold items you find; some items you need to take a closer look and even combine with other items, a feature I personally enjoy. Another bonus point, you can lock the menu and keep it from minimizing. This is minor but I really love when HOGs have this feature. You have a map that allows quick teleporting, a journal that keeps track of what you’ve done so far, and has interesting nuggets from Mary’s perspective about the story. There are morphing objects to collect, as well as memories of Sophia which manifest as items lying around the scenery. Another nice feature, if you’re not a fan of hidden object scenes or find yourself stuck, you can opt out and do a match three mini-game instead.
Even at a casual glance, it’s obvious that the graphics for this game are excellent. The backgrounds and scenery in this game are beautifully done with lively colors and great attention to details. HOGs in general have really improved in this category and this game proves that it can compete with titles by more experienced and well-known developers. The hidden object scenes themselves are where this is most important, as they look like total chaos and clutter but also must be able to function and not leave players on a frustrated search for items. The scenes in this game rise to challenge; I had no issues and didn’t even have to squint much to find any item. The characters are also well done as are the cut-scenes, though animations while speaking are a bit hit-or-miss and I personally found Sophia to look very odd and unappealing. Audio-wise things are fine, the music isn’t memorable but it helps set the atmosphere well, as does the wealth of ambient noise around you. The game also has voice acting which is full of emotion and for the most part enhances the game. While I do admit that there are some cases of overacting, I think this is also tied to the melodramatic nature of the plot I mentioned earlier.
Fans of hidden object games need look no further, Darkarta: A Broken Heart’s Quest Collector’s Edition is a solid addition to your library. It’s also a good title for newcomers to test out, especially given the amount of variety in puzzles and hidden object scenes. There is also a bonus chapter which wraps up the events of the main storyline, however, this was very short. While it did give resolution to the main story, it didn’t add much overall. Being a collector’s edition, there a lot of bonuses besides the addition chapter; you have a comic book that acts as a prequel, you have access to the soundtrack, and can look at visuals from the game as well as replay puzzles or hidden object scenes if you like. Another nice feature, if you’re ever stuck, the game comes with a strategy guide as well. On Steam, this title has many achievements to go after and it also has trading cards. This is a very solid game and I recommend it wholeheartedly.