Price: FREE ($4.99 to unlock full game)
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Dark Arcana: The Carnival might tread familiar Hidden Object gaming ground, but it's a fun ride while it lasts, offering a suitably entertaining romp through intrigue and spookiness.
Like other Hidden Object games, there's a distinct supernatural theme here. Evil forces are at work, weird rituals are underway and players find themselves investigating a disappearance that's a lot more sinister than it initially seems. The carnival setting is creepy on its own, but throw in the mirror world that is also available and things turn much darker.
Two main forms of puzzle are available here: exploring the surroundings and combining items to solve conundrums, and the traditional Hidden Object scene.
The Hidden Object scenes are far from challenging, but they are reasonably enjoyable. This is mostly boosted by the fact that players aren't forced to complete them. Instead, they can choose to play the card game Monaco in order to progress. Players have to match cards, according to their symbols and location. Match one card that has a colorful background and an object is removed from the Hidden Object list. This means that players can switch between the two styles of gaming, however they want. It also means that such scenes are more of a distraction than genuine challenge.
It's the storyline that will keep players interested the most, as well as the presence of some more intriguing puzzles such as one that involves lining up symbols by association, and other suitably logical puzzles.
Dark Arcana: The Carnival extends the challenge by offering three modes of play: Casual, Advanced and Expert. While I can't see many players replaying the game, the original 4hrs or so to complete it is suitably sufficient for the price tag. It might not be revolutionary but it is pleasantly fun.