The Secret Castle (out now, FREE) offers more than the usual hidden object adventures you’re used to, especially in terms of its controls. The story takes place from the point of view of a boy named Jonas, who moves into an old house with his mom and discovers, through dreaming, strange rooms within a castle. He also meets Ava, a girl who tells him tales of hauntings and other dimensions.
Those who enjoy the simplicity of the average hidden object game may find The Secret Castle more of a hassle to play, but at the same time, Platronic’s title puts a fresh spin to an otherwise stale genre. In The Secret Castle, simple tapping isn’t enough to collect items. First, you’ll have to tilt your device to the appropriate angle and double tap the screen with two fingers to freeze the scene. Now you can try tapping objects you spot. To get a better view, you can also zoom in and out by spreading or pinching your fingers.
What makes The Secret Castle more intriguing is that some objects are split in two parts. To collect such an object, you’ll have to align the separate parts to form a whole (through tilting, of course), and then freeze it before tapping on it. Sometimes objects or parts may be hidden behind items in the room, such as furnishings. You’ll have to tap these other items to get them to move. If you ever get stuck you can resort to a hint, but once used you’ll have to wait for it to reload.
Altogether, the game offers 10 chapters, which you can browse through via framed paintings within a hallway. The first two chapters (or rooms) are free to play, while the remainder are available through a $2.99 in-app purchase. The Secret Castle has good artwork, though certain graphical elements, such as the loading screen, suffer from poor resolution (at least on my iPad 2). Also, where games go, the storyline is pretty well written.
iFanzine Verdict: If you’re a fan of hidden object games, it won’t hurt for you to check out The Secret Castle since the first two chapters are free to try. Some may enjoy the new tilt-and-freeze controls, while those who prefer a more hassle-free experience may find it a chore. The game is fairly short, but overall, The Secret Castle is well made and a beautiful 3D experience.