Sometimes an adventuress just can’t get a break. Fresh off a trip from Guatemala, puzzle solver extraordinaire Nelly finds that her brother’s gotten himself into hot water — or rather, caught deep inside an entire world that lurks within the paintings adorning one Totenkraft Castle. Fortunately this situation might still work out well for everyone involved; ill-fated spirits that stalk the environments hosted within each landscape can point Nelly in the right direction, and she just happens to have a “soft spot for ghosts who are down on their luck.”
There seems to be a bit of a leap in the game’s narrative from the point at which Nelly discovers her brother’s gone missing to the point at which she jumps into the game’s first painting; perhaps the previous title already established her weird instinct for leaping into pictures in Treasure Seekers 2 (Out Now, $4.99). Luckily this is the only regard in which experience with the franchise affects enjoyment.
Much like Nicole Rankwist in G5’s Legend of the Crystal Portal, Nelly must surmount obstacles in her search by combining carefully hidden items into useful tools. Tasks range from the predictable – finding gears and oil cans to repair worn out machines – to more bizarre ventures like mixing concoctions that put dragons to sleep and restore humanity to wandering spirits. A helpful “hint” button can be called upon periodically to reveal nefariously well-camouflaged items. The rate at which this lifeline recharges depends on the game’s difficulty setting, defined by the player when setting up a new user ID; this game account, in turn, keeps track of various performance achievements.
The world-inside-a-painting premise gave the developers free reign to devise tasks that strike the player as intriguing yet logical in their own way, and Artogon played their hand strikingly well in the imagination department. G5’s implementation of pinch zooming and a streamlined drag-and-drop interface for collection and inventory management once again proves that the iOS is not merely compatible with this genre — it should be the platform of choice. While the spirits Nelly encounters aren’t always particularly helpful in offering hints when the player taps on them to converse, a convenient task list keeps the player well grounded in the game’s fanciful worlds even after long breaks.
While the Find the Hidden Object mechanics are well done in Treasure Seekers 2, its greatest draw lies in mini-puzzles judiciously sprinkled throughout Nelly’s quest. In keeping with the game’s theme these tend to revolve around pictorial interpretation. The player will be called upon to arrange misaligned murals, follow visual cookbook instructions for mixing arcane powders, and complete numerous other challenges that make the game far less predictable and formulaic than its genre association would otherwise suggest. Making matters even better, Nelly is always on the move: each painting houses a few sub-environments that markedly evolve as she transfers items among them to repair broken objects, tear down blockades, and appease the spirits she encounters. These factors lend Treasure Seekers 2 a unique puzzle/adventure vibe that should resonate well with most iDevice gamers not specifically on the lookout for loads of action.
As one familiar with the G5/Artogon duo’s previous works should expect, Treasure Seekers 2 presents crisp visuals – albeit with hazy edges to reflect watercolors from time to time – and a minimalistic soundtrack. The audio department alternates between creating a sense of wonder and instilling unease, which makes this title particularly delightful for playing in the dark. Treasure Seekers 2 should last a good six to eight hours, though temporal mileage will vary greatly with the player’s observational skill and difficulty setting.
iFanzine Verdict: Who says a game needs a combat system to be generally enjoyable? Treasure Seekers 2 bucks niche appeal by going above and beyond the typical Find the Hidden Object formula in its varied gameplay. Highly recommended to any iDevice owner who generally enjoys casual puzzlers and light adventure.