Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Best Free Game No One Plays: Hidden Shadows

"Surgeon's Stable" scene from the
"Doctored Death" episode.
Zynga's Hidden Shadows game on Facebook is a hidden picture adventure with everything: beautiful art, crime stories arranged like episodic TV, interstitial graphic novel panels, achievable goals, a moderately increasing difficulty level, intuitive interface, and (most important for me) the capability to play without "neighbors" or a whole bunch of friends.

You also get a good run for your basic supplies of energy and easily earn the materials you need to speed up investigations or make more energy. Not a whole lot of materials, of course. Zynga still wants you to buy stuff and energy. And there are two annoying screens to click through asking you to invite friends. However, there is enough to keep going at a critical juncture or if you just can't wait 12 hours for lab results.

The mild disadvantages are that Badges needed to move forward can take a long time to earn and if you choose to investigate the wrong evidence (when you have a choice of two) you'll find yourself spending a lot of time earning Badges. These take progressively more energy to earn and max out at five per scene. New scenes are opened up from analyzed evidence.

Even though this game has "everything" none of my friends play it. For a short time, in order to win extra stuff for Farmville 2, a couple of friends played it. They got the booty and quit. I can't stop.

The items you search for are varied (although they have a thing for hats) and usually in plain sight. As you level up the items blend in more, are hidden in shadow, and sometimes are only partially shown. If you can't find the item or wonder what a generic word like "bat" means, you can hover over the word and see the image. This distinguishes between the animal and the wooden variety. You also get a hint from seeing the image because you see exactly what the item looks like in the scene. I can tell from the size and angle approximately where in the picture the item is hidden.

Hints are quickly available. In the screen snap above, in the lower left corner is the Hint counting up. In a matter of seconds you have a Hint available. One is all I've ever needed. Hints are available for purchase (of course) and you can make them from the raw materials generated by successful completion of scenes.

Achievable objectives and earnable materials, yet no one plays this game. I have one friend who  plays a couple times a week and that's it. I don't get it. Why would no one enjoy the pleasant passing of time with a pretty, moderately challenging game?
Opening screen. Pretty or what?
Notification to complete more scenes to analyze
the evidence you find in a scene.
Badges are earned by completing scenes.

Make Speed-Ups and Energy (but not Badges)
from materials gathered (automatically) in scenes.
As you can see, I have a lot of materials.

Season One - completed.

Season Two - in progress.
Human heart or graphic heart? Prevent errors.
Hover over the word and find out!

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