Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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First off, let's get this one thing out of the way: Hamlet (the game) has virtually NOTHING to do with Hamlet (the play by Billy Shakes). Ok, well, some of the character names are the same, but the full title of the game (Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG features, Shaders or Product Placement) should give you some sense of how fully the developer's tongue was planted in cheek when they appropriated the title of the classic play for this game. So, if you don't go into it expecting much of the Bard, you'll probably be better off.
What you DO get in Hamlet (I'm not typing that absurdly long title again and again...sorry, guys) is a well-developed, complex point-and-click adventure game, a la Lucasarts classics like Day of the Tentacle and Loom. iOS has been a boon to this oft-forgotten genre of games, and I'm glad to see new ones getting some development time. Point-and-click games were all but made for touch screens, and they work SO much better than arcade shooters that require virtual controls on screen.
The story of Hamlet has the famous Danish prince squished by a newly-arrived time traveler, who then has to take on the role of the prince and save Ophelia from the clutches of aliens, one of whom is named Polonius. I'm not making this stuff up; I promise. The journey to save the Ophelia is fraught with puzzles of varying complexity. Each screen has a goal (usually to get from Point A to Point B, but sometimes it's something more complicated), and it's up to the player to figure out what has to be touched, and in what order, to get Hamlet from where he is to where he wants to be. Even the first puzzles aren't incredibly simple, so there's some depth here. For those players who get frustrated, the developers have included a hint system on a timer. Wait long enough and you'll be able to click a question mark and get a hint for how to solve the current puzzle. It's a nice inclusion, though it might make some players not take the time to try to solve the puzzles themselves.
The art style is unique and cartoony, and it serves to create a uniform world within the game. It often feels as if you are playing through a children's storybook, and perhaps, at some level at least, this is the true evolution of the interactive or pop-up book. The production - visuals, music, sound effects and controls - is spot-on and extremely well-conceived.
Don't look to Hamlet to fulfill your needs for an educational game. This just isn't the game you're looking for. But, for those of us always jonesing for a new point-and-click adventure, Hamlet fits the bill nicely.