Well, after I enjoyed the first “House Of 1000 Doors” game recently, I thought that I’d take a look at the second one today (especially since I got both games in a fairly inexpensive “Hidden Mystery Collectives” double-pack).
Before I begin, I should probably point out that this is a review of the collector’s edition of the game – which contains an extra bonus chapter.
If you haven’t played the first “House Of 1000 Doors” game, then this isn’t really a huge issue. Although there are a few recurring characters in this game, it’s pretty much a self-contained game that can be enjoyed on it’s own. But, in this review, I’ll probably be comparing it to the previous game quite a bit.
So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at “House Of 1000 Doors: The Palm Of Zoroaster”:
One again, you play as Kate, a bestselling author who is fascinated by the paranormal. When driving through rural New Jersey a year after the events of the first game, a mysterious fire breaks out in the woods around her car and causes her to crash.
When she wakes up unharmed, she finds that she’s crashed near the latest location of the House Of 1000 Doors – a mysterious ghostly mansion that appears around the world at random intervals.
After she makes her way back to the house, she learns from it’s inhabitants that the mysterious fires started in the house and that they are somehow connected to a series of paintings that recently appeared in one of the hallways.
Each of these paintings is actually a portal to a different location and/or time in history and it is up to Kate to enter them and get to the bottom of this mystery…..
One of the first things I will say about this game is that you don’t really get to explore the house anywhere near as much as you do in the first game. Literally, you can walk around the gardens and look at about five or six rooms and that’s it.
Yes, you get to visit some other interesting locations too (eg: Tibet, India, Jerusalem, Madagascar and – in the bonus chapter- Viking-era Scandinavia), but the first game had this feature too and also allowed you to explore quite a bit of the house as well.
With the exception of the bonus chapter, the scenes which take place in other locations are relatively short and they only consist of 5-8 different areas. But, saying that, the locations are fairly varied and they all look absolutely spectacular:
So, this game feels a little bit shorter than it’s predecessor. But, as I mentioned earlier, the bonus chapter is a lot longer than most bonus chapters in Hidden Object Games are.
Although the pirate-themed “Madagascar” level is pretty cool, my favourite chapter was probably the bonus chapter (which is unlocked once you complete the main game).
Not only is it about twice the length of the other chapters, it’s also set in Viking times. Seriously, this is one of the few games I’ve ever played that has managed to include both pirates and vikings in the same game:
Another new feature which makes the game feel a bit shorter is that you now have a map screen which allows you to jump between locations.
Whilst this eliminates a lot of the back-and-forth gameplay which could sometimes get mildly tedious in the first game, it also means that you can get through this game a lot more quickly than the previous one. So, I kind of have fairly mixed views about this new feature.
As for the gameplay, it’s fairly similar to the previous game – you explore various locations and solve object-based puzzles, mini-games and hidden object scenes.
Like in the previous game, you have to find fifteen or sixteen hidden objects in each hidden object scene, but only eight are displayed at the bottom of the screen at any one time.
So, you have to memorise the location of notable objects because you might have to come back to them a few minutes later when they appear at the bottom of the screen. Likewise, most of the hidden object scenes also have another location (eg: inside an aeroplane, inside a chest etc…) that you also have to search too. What this means is that this is a game for more experienced Hidden Object gamers.
But, as always, if you get stuck in any part of the game, there is always the “hint” button in the bottom corner of the screen. One cool feature about this game (at least on the “casual” difficulty setting) is that the hint button only takes about thirty seconds to recharge. Plus, if you get really stuck, then the collector’s edition of the game also comes with a built-in walkthrough guide that you can consult in-game too.
One minor criticism I have of “The Palm Of Zoroaster” is that it’s less atmospheric than it’s predecessor. Whilst the first game was a rather gloomy and tragic gothic horror game, there’s a lot less horror and gloom here. Although there are a few ghosts, skeletons and mysterious historical accounts of people spontaneously combusting, it doesn’t really have the Victorian gloom that the first game did.
Like with the previous game, the voice-acting in “The Palm Of Zoroaster” isn’t that amazing either. Ok, it isn’t completely terrible, but it’s not exactly brilliant either. Plus, it’s fairly obvious that at least one or two recurring characters are being voiced by different voice actors too.
All in all, although I slightly preferred the first game in the series to this one, “House Of 1000 Doors: The Palm Of Zoroaster” is still a surprisingly good hidden object game.
The difficulty level is hard enough to be challenging but never impossibly difficult (in the way that most “traditional” point and click games are), the art is absolutely spectacular and there’s a good variety of locations on offer. Yes, it isn’t a horror game, but if you’re a fan of hidden object games, then it is certainly worth checking out.
If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would get four and a half.