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Your life is changed forever when a train carrying your husband and daughter vanishes into the newly built tunnel through the Ridge of Leviathan. Exactly one year later you return to the tunnel to see if you can find out what happened. Will you be able to find your family?

TAKE PART IN A STRANGE SCIENTISTS GREATEST EXPERIMENT
An eccentric man approaches you at the site of the disappearance with an unusual idea.

CAN YOU SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING TRAIN?
Dr. Bors claims he has a way to find out that happened. With his help, recreate that fateful day and find out the truth!

EXPLORE A STRANGE NEW WORLD
Take on captivating hidden object scenes on your journey through breathtaking landscapes in this strange other world. Find collectibles and solve various challenging puzzles and mini-games along the way.

OPEN THE SECRETS TO THE PANTHEON IN THIS COLLECTORS EDITION
Experience exclusive extras! Unlock achievements and collect bonus items throughout this mystical Hidden Object Adventure. Enjoy gorgeous wallpapers, screensavers, soundtracks and more!

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02-11-2015, 04:55 PM
#2
Joined: May 2014
Posts: 107
I tried to get a review in while this was still on its new release sale, but the game was long enough that even playing on casual (and taking breaks for real life obligations) I didn't finish it until today. I've poked around the bonus chapter and extras, but will be moving on to the next adventure game rather than completing them.

Tl;dr: Worth full price for adventure/hidden object fans. Story, graphics, gameplay, sound all good to very good. Hint system arguably too helpful. Female protagonist, passes Bechdel test.

Surface is a well-known line of hidden object adventures from Elephant games. While I'm aware of them, this is the first entry I've played. It's entirely standalone (as far as I can tell).

Elephant Games are known for their attractive collage-style graphics that mix photographed elements with hand painted ones harmoniously. This game is no exception, and is gorgeous. There are quite a few animated cut scenes, but these were sadly at a much lower resolution than the game itself on my iPad.

Elephant is NOT known for especially intricate or well-written stories. Their usual fare is serviceable enough, but filled with plot holes and head scratchers. Here, Pantheon was a very pleasant surprise. The plot can be described as a more intimate fantasy take on the Stargate movie (the debt is humorously acknowledged by a stargate to another galaxy present as an item in one of the hidden object scenes). Unusually for the genre, there's a healthy cast of characters, even if no single one has more than a few moments to shine in. The voice acting is quite good. I could have sworn I'd heard the main actress on tv before, and only a visit to imdb convinced me that wasn't the case. In a refreshing turn, the game passes the Bechdel test in both the main game and bonus chapter. Not in any meaningful or memorable way, mind you, but it does.

The puzzles are a healthy mix of genre staples and ones I don't remember seeing before. I value my time far too highly not to skip annoying or tedious puzzles, but they are well enough implemented that I gave them all a fair go. Two or three we're fun enough that I think they could support ios games of their own, given a few dozen or hundred more 'levels'. (More bees, buttons and retractable chains plz.). There are still plenty of odd-shaped locks, but less than in other hidden object games. A satisfying number of the puzzles fit organically into the lore and story, enhancing the narrative - such as it is.

As typical for Elephant games, the hint system was annoyingly helpful. Instead of showing you where to look or go next, it would flat out tell you exactly what to do next: "to continue, insert tab a into slot b in room c." This is redundant given the link to a free full strategy guide always visible on the bottom right of the interface. What's more, the hint system was broken for me for about a fifth of the game. It became stuck on a piece of advice that had nothing to do with what I actually had to do and seems to have been left over from an eArlier build, since the action it prompted was not possible. Consulting the strategy guide (sadly only available in a separate application) got me through this rough patch.

The map is useful. It shows you available locations, completion status and open puzzles. As usual for Elephant, you can teleport to a location by tapping it on the map, easing the pain of backtracking.

There are 81 hidden flowers to collect in the game. These unlock extras such as replay able versions of the puzzles in a treasury.

The game includes a bonus chapter taking place five years after the end of the main story. I haven't played much of it, but it seems to match the high quality of the rest of the game.

I bought the game at launch for 25 percent off, but the length and quality of the offering makes it easy to recommend at full price for hidden object or adventure fans, especially those with a preference for female protagonists.

Edit: forgot to mention... There's a slight twist on the hidden object scenes. You must use inventory items to unlock some items on the list. While novel, this can be annoying. It is possible to zoom through such a scene and be stuck on the last item or two because you did not pick up that paper clip three screens ago. Not all inventory items are used this way, of course, but all of them show up in the appropriate prompt, so it's difficult to tell without a hint whether you lack a necessary item, or just haven't found the right hot spot to use one you already have.

Last edited by Silvers; 02-11-2015 at 05:00 PM.
02-12-2015, 09:17 AM
#3
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Upstate NY/USA
Posts: 2,409
Well written review along with some insight to the Elephant game in particular. I was unaware after reading the review of a few things in regards to them.

Playing the game now and recommend it to players in giving this a go.