Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
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From the makers of moody adventure game, Yesterday, and part adventure game, part Hidden Object title, Hidden Runaway, comes equally flawed yet interesting Hollywood Monsters.
The name itself is mildly confusing, as this is actually The Next Big Thing, the sequel to 1997's rather obscure point and click adventure, Hollywood Monsters. Confusion is Hollywood Monsters's main issues, given its odd control scheme and some illogical puzzle-based moments. It tells an interesting story, though.
There's a bizarre story within the six chapters, starting with reporters Dan and Liz outside of the Horror Movie Awards in Hollywood. That's as sane as it gets really, with it not long before players encounter talking flies offering ink blot puzzles and moody robots. Amongst all of that is a keen 1940s aura that livens things up nicely.
Hollywood Monsters offers more than its fair share of illogical puzzles, clearly placed in the vein of many 1990s puzzles, despite being a recent creation for the PC. Fortunately, there's a hints button that's always keen to offer advice. Not that this makes things too easy. A man explains what happens in the past but it's generally a hint rather than a clear cut sign of what's needed. Multiple taps lead to a picture indicating where to go but it doesn't always occur with every conundrum, leading the player to figure things out for themselves.
There's a fairly sharp wit contained within every puzzle and tap of the screen, making it worthwhile tapping on everything just to read and hear more of the humor. Hollywood Monsters is distinctly wordy in that respect with conversations running particularly long. As time progresses, it can get a little tedious but it generally pulls things back by remaining funny. The puzzle solutions can be similarly humorous, such as getting a robot drunk on punch so that it confuses Liz for another woman. It's just a shame that it isn't always very clear what needs doing next and conventional logic rarely applies.
Frustratingly, Hollywood Monsters suffers from one very awkward problem: its control scheme. Combining items is something that is common throughout many adventure games, but here it's cumbersome to implement. Players drag an item, from the inventory bar, on top of another one. Sounds simple, right? The problem is that the item has to be dragged onto the active screen before being dragged back down to the inventory bar. It's a relatively small thing but one that's awkward and unnatural. At one point, I found myself having to combine two items while being unable to clearly see because my finger was obscuring the second item. It's not quite a deal breaker but no one likes fighting a game's control scheme in order to have fun.
At times, Hollywood Monsters might feel a little too zany for its own good. It lacks the polish of something like Broken Sword, but what it does offer is a traditional adventure game, warts and all.