In order to appreciate Selecsoft’s hidden object game, Time Chronicles: The Missing Mona Lisa, you’re going to need to like puzzle games. For some people, hidden object games are monotonous and dumb. For others, like me, they’re awesome.
Who doesn’t enjoy staring at the screen of a virtual room cluttered with misplaced oddities and given a list of random crap to find. What’s that? I need to find a baby chicken? Done. He was hiding behind a yellow couch pillow (sneaky). Oh yeah? You’ve added a timer and now I only have a few minutes to find all the other weird stuff that is in no way applicable to the story of this game? Challenge accepted. However, not everyone enjoys the rush of finding the doughnut box camouflaged perfectly in some mountains quite like I do. So just to clarify, if you don’t like hidden object games then do not play this game.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has been stolen and you’re the chief investigator assigned with returning it to the museum. The perpetrator, Time Chameleon, has used a “time distorter” to rip up the Mona Lisa and disperse its pieces throughout the globe. You will somehow repair the famous painting by traveling to these locations, finding hidden objects, and piecing back together Mona Lisa’s mug. Unfortunately, my game experienced a serious and devastating crash every time I tried to travel to Japan. After multiple attempts to stop the crashing, I realized I had the only two options: start a new game or reinstall. Neither option allowed me the luxury of catching Time Chameleon. Consequently, I have no idea what happens at the end of Time Chronicles. I’m assuming you catch Time Chameleon but it’s a lot more funny to assume that no, you don’t catch him and the Mona Lisa is lost forever. I’d like to note my name was Chief Investigator HOTDOG because that’s what I said my name was in the tutorial.
When choosing the difficulty for Time Chronicles, I chose normal instead of easy because I’m a hidden object hardass. I raced the timer, found all the objects, and got gold badges for being so fast. If you’re faster then the timer, you can unlock new locations to find new objects. Over time you will unlock more places and find more Mona Lisa pieces. Occasionally you will need to play a minigame that takes you to new parts of the world. I really didn’t understand the point of the minigame and thought they were ridiculously easy. However, the minigames, locations, and diverse objects will keep you from getting bored.
My biggest complaint for Time Chronicles is the finger-to-object recognition. When you’re trying to activate a small, skinny object like a walking cane or sword, it takes multiple touches for the game to register. In addition, I feel some objects really were impossible to see and only accessible with the help of a hint (and even then I’d wonder where the object had actually been). There were a few misspellings or incorrectly labeled items. I spent 10 minutes looking for a “harf” only to realize the list was referring to the giant gold harp right in front of my face. I also spent another 20 minutes looking for a “lion” which turned out to be a stuffed animal TIGER. Another annoyance was if the list mentioned “hot pepper” I would find and hit the hot pepper. No, the game would say that’s not a hot pepper. I’d keep looking… There are multiple hot peppers. I’d spend precious timer time trying to find out which hot pepper the game wanted (“This hot pepper?” “NO, NOT THAT HOT PEPPER.”)
Other than the major glitch which caused my game to repeatedly crash, Time Chronicles functioned well over all. I didn’t experience any other true glitches but I did struggle with some touch recognition. Overall, I thought the game operated okay.
Graphics are what you would expect from a hidden objects game. The objects themselves are flat and sometimes look like someone photoshopped an actual picture into the game The characters are cartoony and the locations sometimes look hand painted. Hidden object games rarely focus on their artistic presentation. This piece of puzzle genre seems more concerned with how the game operates and where they strategically hide “santa car.” That’s right, Santa makes a lot of appearances in this game. Sometimes he is labeled as “santa plane” or some other mobile transportation. Santa bus understands that the demographic playing this game probably aren’t too concerned with the overall graphics.
The music sounds like wind chime electronica. In other words, the music is weird, ominous sounding elevator music. However, I play a lot of hidden object games and I can’t say this isn’t normal or unexpected. All hidden object games have bad music. The remaining sounds for the game like the hint twinkle and minigame sounds are cute and match the overall environment of the game.
I thought Time Chronicles was fun and if it hadn’t crashed I would have spent more time beating it. The problem with recommending a game like this is you really have to appeal to the game’s demographic. If you don’t like hidden object games, if you don’t like timer games, and if you’re not an 80 year old woman on the PC her grandson bought her then don’t play this game. Otherwise, I thought Time Chronicles was an acceptable puzzle game and had enough locations and objects to keep from going stale. It’s available both PC and iPad.