A Princess in distress. The stereotypical story line would call for the handsome Prince to valiantly come along and sweep her off to safety. But such is not the case for Princess Scarlett in Scarlett and the Spark of Life: Scarlett Adventures Episode 1 by Launching Pad Games. Instead, the feisty Scarlett takes matters into her own hands to escape, motivated by what we learn is to save her sister. What follows is an adventure that will entertain as well as puzzle you. In a unique blend of Point and Click adventure meets Choose your Ending storybook, Scarlett and the Spark of Life has a great story, eye popping graphics and an easy to use interface.
Storyline: The writing is witty and quirky, both leading to a pleasurable experience. The unique adventure and the cast of characters met along the way are entertaining and the story that unravels will elicit several laughs. Stereotypes thrown out the window, Scarlett doesn’t need a Prince to save her, she will construct her own talking horse to aid in her escape. The story is so good that it kept me playing just to figure out how Scarlett solve her predicament.
Graphics: The style chosen is wonderful and bright, with beautiful colors that add to the atmosphere. Clever scenes of a quaint village make the game smoother and actually make up for some of the game’s shortcomings. Combine the graphics with the story and it was a well planned comic book that was delightful and amusing.
Dialogue: Despite the excellent story, the game has much more reading than would be expected in a point and click adventure. Even if this game was designed to be a choose your own ending story, the dialogue loops prevent that. The game leads you to the right choices no matter what you do. Choosing the improper dialogue responses merely end up artificially lengthening the game than anything else. The story is pleasant enough to read through but this excess of dialogue gives the game a bit of an identity crisis. Is it a point and click with too much dialogue or a choose your own adventure story with some puzzles mixed in?
Interface: While the point and click interface is spot on and done extremely well and accurately, the hint system makes the game a bit too easy. For each scene that you enter, the hint system lights up every spot on that screen that has possible interaction. While you still need to figure out what to do with the items you find, this makes the game a little too easy.
Puzzles: Well, there weren’t enough of them and they were not hard enough for the seasoned point and click adventure player. With the hint system and the game pretty much guiding you by the hand scene by scene, the puzzles were too obvious. If you missed some key item along the way, the game would not progress until you went back and found it. There were moments of greatness though as one or two puzzles really were fun to solve, but ultimately this is a great game for a beginner to get a feel for the genre.
Overall, while enjoyable, the game had a few shortcomings that made it confusing to not only classify but to hold my attention. As clever as the story is, it is almost too clever and drawn out. Even though the story that comes out of even incorrect responses is fun to read, it would have been preferable for the choices that you made to affect the outcome of the game. Perhaps if you take too long the kidnappers catch up to the Princess. Perhaps good old Gherkin never sees the light of day if you can’t figure a way to repair him.
Scarlett and the Spark of Life: Scarlett Adventures Episode 1 by Launching Pad Games is a great start for what could ultimately be a classic Adventure series if it can find its true identity and work within that framework. The point and click adventures that have too much dialogue do not appeal much to me, as I like to play my games and not read them; but I really did enjoy the story of Scarlett. If the next episode has more puzzles and less dialogue that would be a huge step in the right direction. In the end, Scarlett does ride off into the sunset; not with a Knight, but with a mechanical horse. Those kinds of witty scenes and excellent writing do give me hope for what the future might hold for the series.
Scarlett and the Spark of Life: Scarlett Adventures Episode 1 by Launching Pad Games was reviewed on both a 2g iPod Touch and a 4g iPod Touch, both with iOS 4.1. It is available now for $2.99.