“ Developer: Alawar Entertainment „
~ Holly - Christmas Magic Double Pack ~
The "Holly - Christmas Magic Double Pack" is as stated, a double holiday pack of the Holly games released on the 23rd of December of 2011. It is categorised as a Hidden Objects Game and it's published by Alawar Entertainment. It contains two full games in the price of one:
*The Holly: A Christmas Tale Deluxe
*The Holly 2: Magic Land
The double pack game costs $9.99 which is around £6.4 and I bought it online from the Gamehouse.com. It can also be found on offer from other sites from £4.5.
~ Game Description ~
Both games are evolved in Christmas scenery and Holly is the main character. In Holly: A Christmas Tale Deluxe, Holly is a normal girl who is working in a toy store at Christmas Eve. She is dreaming that she meets and helps Santa and the Elves to deliver the gifts to the children around the world. She takes part in the Christmas mission and she has to complete different tasks and face many challenges during her journey. The first game has 25 levels and stories that put the player in the spirit of the Christmas season. The general "map" of the game takes place in snowy scenery comprised by houses in different countries around the world. In the game there are cute small stories about Santa, Fairies and Elves that explain the quests and present the next steps of the gameplay.
The second game of the pack Holly 2: Magic Land introduces the player to a new story. When Holly's young daughter disappears, an elf tells her that she must visit the land of magic to find her child. She follows the Elf to the Magic Land where she meets many different characters and she is asked to solve various Hidden Objects games and mini challenges to find her little girl.
~ Gameplay ~
It's a "seek and find" type puzzle game with a variety of mini quests in each level. The whole game is played by clicking on the items with Holly's magic stick. The type of small games and puzzles that the player needs to solve is mainly Hidden Object games, where it is asked for example to identify the toys on the shelves. You might also have to find the objects listed in a provided list of items or find multiple versions of the same item (for example gems, toys or fruits). There are also puzzles where you search for the various objects based on their silhouettes. Finally, there are extra mini games where the player is requested to find the differences between two seemingly identical images, complete Memory tasks, assemble pictures by moving pieces or by placing them in the correct order etc.
There is a round clock on the screen that shows the available time for every episode and additional hints are available to help the player. The hints can be collected by clicking on gold pine cones or strawberries for the first and second game respectively. When you collect 3 golden items you can get an additional hint.
~ Graphics and sound ~
The graphics are bright and fun, and all the scenes are hand-drawn with a cartoonish style. The scenes are clearly drawn with nice colours, cute toys and presents are placed in the background that looks like an image from a comic book. The artist has designed the whole game with the Christmas spirit in all the sets and it feels like you are reading a fairy tale.
The game has a different style from the usual hidden objects games. It took me a while to get used to the graphics and the cartoonish images were a bit confusing at first. The objects were sometimes unidentifiable and it was not clear what kind of object I was looking for. Further, there is not a big variety in the background images and many levels looked very similar.
The audio is good and it also reminds me of Christmas but it is repetitive after some time.
~ My opinion ~
I bought this game as a Christmas gift for my 10 year old cousin. She likes this kind of girly games with fairies and cute stories so I thought that this would be a good present. Before purchasing the game, I initially played the 1 hour trial to make sure that it is interesting and suitable for her age. She enjoyed the game more than I did and the little stories between the levels were perfect for her to practice her English. Personally, I believe that this game is suitable for ages between 8 and 15 years old because when I played the game myself, I wasn't so excited (I am 26). There are no age restrictions from the creators; however, I think that younger game players would enjoy this while the more experienced adult players will probably find it boring.
From my experience, the game is very easy to learn, the puzzles are well designed and challenging but they are too long, with no time pressure and the hints are very easy to get.
The challenge that you will face during the game is to find the objects. Sometimes they are very well hidden in the background or they are behind other items and only a small part of them is visible so they are hard to recognise. In the first game, the Christmas Tale, there is the option to move some objects or open drawers to find the items behind them, which makes the game more interesting. By comparing the two games, I found that the Christmas Tale was a lot more difficult and demanding than the second one (the Magic Land).
The games include a variety of different quests and types of items that you are asked to collect (toys, fruits, gems, leaves etc.). However, in the two series of the pack, the tasks are very similar and they are just set in a different environment. Usually, each quest requires from the player to find 20-30 items hidden in the picture. The first 17 out of 20 objects are not difficult to spot and you might find it hard when searching for the remaining 3 items, this is the part where it's useful to use the hints. When I first played the game, I found the cartoonish appearance very cute but it made it difficult to separate the objects. Later, when I got familiar with the images it was much easier.
Concerning the time pressure, I believe that the game could be a lot more challenging if the time limits were more restrictive. In all levels, I was able to complete the games in ¼ of the time provided. Also, I realised that the game is not scored so the only challenge is to complete the level by finding the items, which is not difficult with the amount of hints provided. Therefore, there are no point rewards if you are very quick and finish the level in less than the provided time. Further, when you click on the wrong objects, you don't lose time or have a penalty as it happens in other similar games, so you can just click randomly on the screen when you are looking for the item but you are not sure where to search. Some of the puzzles were just guessing, for example there was a mini game with different images drawn on bags and the player has to guess which country they represented. Most of the drawings weren't clearly linked to the countries and I had to click on them randomly.
The games are not very long lasting as each game can be completed in about 4 to 5 hours if you want to play it all in one sitting. We finished the first part in 4 days, and we were playing together for about one hour daily. The second game had easier tasks and it was somewhat quicker. I have played better Hidden Objects Games, this one is quite different but I think it is more interesting for young players.
~ Conclusion ~
Overall, this game is like a fairytale with rich and cute graphics but not much challenge. It is probably not very interesting for experienced players and adults but it's a good and enjoying Christmas gift for young children. It's not a game that I would choose to buy for myself and I would recommend to take advantage of the 1-hour free trial before purchasing.
_This review is also published on ciao under my username sweetybi_