Developer: Big Fish Games Inc.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery tries hard but can not break past the limitations of its own hidden object game genre. The occasional puzzles and story sequences are appreciated changes of pace, but they can only distract so much from the fact that what one mostly does in this game - as in all hidden item games - is tap on random items.
Players assume the role of Claire Ellery, an FBI agent charged with solving the mystery of a small town kidnapping. As she makes her away across the town, visiting docks, carnivals and warehouses, she always seems to encounter strange tarot cards with clues as to what she will need to proceed. Outside of that gimmick, though, it feels like a generic, dime store novel plot with appropriately TV-movie-style visuals. It's not bad art, but creating a fine looking static image of a mundane environment isn't as impressive in these days of mobile gaming. The music helps sell the eerie atmosphere the game is going for but can't make up for how boring the overall presentation feels.
That same notion also applies to much of the gameplay. The interesting parts fail to mask the tiresome whole. Each area follows a predictable formula. Players will find a tarot card with various items. After finding them all, players will use one item to play a minigame or solve a puzzle to either find another tarot card in the same section or unlock the next section. Once all sections are cleared it's on to the next area. Progress is logical and well directed and the handful of puzzles - like operating a telescope or starting a boat - are fun and satisfying. The rest of the game is just repetitively searching for items. These are either named or shown in silhouette and there is a limited hint system. Unfortunately, the game can sometimes be very picky about where players need to tap on an object for it to count.
At least Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery lasts for a while and because of its low impact one can easily play it while doing various other things. However, as a game meant to hold one's attention by itself it comes up a little short. There is a reason why games like these are meant for magazines typically found in the dentist office.