Developer: G5 Entertainment
Price: $4.99 (to unlock full game)
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis isn’t one of the strongest examples of the Hidden Object genre. Instead, it’s distinctly mediocre and tough to recommend over far superior titles.

isladorada5Much of the problems lie in its lack of imagination. Consisting almost entirely of Hidden Object scenes, with a small selection of mini-games, it’s all too predictable and unexciting. There’s a brief storyline tying everything together, explaining that players are tracking down the missing pieces of a magical mask, but it’s pretty lacklustre and minimal, meaning one rarely feels particularly interested in the ongoing tale. Short snippets of conversation rarely feel enough to get the player involved in the quest.

The Hidden Object scenes are reasonably challenging, although there’s no great punishment to tapping too quickly (other than a glass-breaking style visual effect) or using hints, but there’s little logic behind finding many of the items. Amongst the dozen or more objects will be a couple of important tools that can be used to complete a minor puzzle on the main exploration screen, but it’s lacklustre stuff.

The puzzles are similarly uninspired, mostly of the jigsaw kind or occasionally a basic logic puzzle. These might mix things up a little bit, but they feel so inconsequential amongst the plethora of Hidden Object scenes, and a Skip button ensures that one is never stuck for long.

Weighing in at around 3 hours long, Isla Dorada – Episode 1: The Sands of Ephranis is probably just the right length to ensure that the player isn’t completely bored by the end, but this really isn’t a great example of the genre. It’s too cold and soulless to grip. Hidden Object games can and, usually, are much more fun than this.

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