Time Management games seem to be the perfect genre for the iOS platform. Different of course from their Tycoon cousins, time management games lend to a little at a time gameplay. Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery by 10tons, Ltd is exactly one of those time management games that has you hooked from the get-go. In a typical “just one more level” fashion, you quickly find yourself devoting several hours into the game before coming up for air.
In the highly anticipated sequel to Miriel the Magical Merchant, you are again tasked by grandma to watch the shop. But this time there are answers to be found. What is the mystery behind the artifact shaped like an egg? What clues can anyone provide? In a search for answers, Miriel must go on a quest to different towns to help mind the shop while the owners help search for answers. This quest system separates Miriel’s Enchanged Mystery from other Time Management games that simply change around the “Dash” mechanics and story lines. As a twist to the overworked formula, the goal of some levels is collecting items from patrons as opposed to always collecting coins. The variety works very well as you are suddenly determined to trudge onward, not just for yourself but for Miriel and Grandma.
Gameplay: Of course the touch mechanics are similar to its predecessor and the tasks seem the same, but somehow they seem very fresh and different. Each town has a specialty item that you must unlock from the traveling merchant to offer your wide range of customers. Combinations of items and the line up of items for the rack is a strategic undertaking. Take too long and you will not be able to use your magic. Upgrade your equipment for optimal serve times, and set out your tasks in advance for best results. Serve your customers quickly enough to be able to use your magic which helps you beat each level optimally. Collect combos for more coins and more reward. Satisfy each customer quickly so a new one has a space at the counter giving you more opportunity to reach the expert goal in each level.
Story and quest system: The game has a story that actually sucks you in, teasing you with bits and pieces as you go along, stringing you along to the finish of a heck of a lot of levels. Collecting items from customers instead of coin is a nice change. Having a chance to upgrade the equipment and Miriel’s abilities adds to the game for those inevitable hectic times where there is a mad rush of customers. Because the game is based on a story, there is no straight line to follow and Miriel bounces back and forth from place to place on an expansive map making gameplay fresh and fun.
Can’t replay levels: Ok so I am a perfectionist when it comes to these games and maybe in this case I need to let it go, but I find it annoying that if I merely complete a level without the expert goal satisfied, I can’t replay it to try again. I am used to following a path of levels and gold starring each one but in this case I can’t – because I am not allowed to. Miriel goes from town to town, satisfies the shopkeepers to gather her clues, but I am left a little empty when I am one point away from the expert score.
Frenetic gameplay: There are times where there is a rush of customers and poor Miriel is expected to balance 5 items at once, make different combinations and recipes, get the cheese and frostberries ready for sale etc but sometimes the touch screen just doesn’t register an action and you find yourself short one bag of flour, or one loaf of bread. Maybe I tap too quickly, maybe I miss the mark in my frenzy, but perhaps the touch mechanic is not as sensitive as it should be.
Hidden Object Mini Game: The items are too tiny and actually looking for the pieces of them is an exercise in futility. Thankfully there is no penalty for random tapping so in order to get through what to me became, a minor nuisance to pass before I could continue with the game, I just tapped the heck out of the screen until I passed the level. Unfortunately I have no idea what it was I was looking for or what it was I found.
So Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery by 10tons, Ltd arrives on the appstore as a sequel to Miriel the Magical Merchant without much of a change in mechanics but the addition of quest driven gameplay and the hunt for clues to figure out what exactly this artifact means. Thankfully all the real world recipes are available to unlock in case you have a hankering to make your own “Tasty Strawberry Soup.” Lots of Lifetime Achievements are calculated and there are several Awards to unlock in game. Game Center would add a new dimension to the game and you could share your achievements with friends but alas, there is no social network available.
If you are love Time Management games and are looking for something a little different than the usual, give Miriel a whirl. Collecting magical harps and dying cloth has never been so fun! But if you are new to the genre, start with Miriel the Magical Merchant for a solid time management title that pushes the limits of the genre to new directions.
Miriel’s Enchanted Mystery by 10tons, Ltd is available on the AppStore for $2.99. Version 1.0 and 1.0.1 were tested on both a 2g and 4g iPod Touch with iOS 4.1. (as a side note, 1.0.1 was released to remedy the “retry level bug” but I still can not find a way to replay a level as I mentioned above) An iPad HD version is available for $4.99.