“The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition” is an iOS game developed and published by G5 Entertainment. This title is a point-and-click puzzle adventure game. This involves the player tapping on objects on the screen and hopefully finding something to interact with. Items that are obtained are used in other locations/areas to progress the story, and every item that the player can collect serves a purpose. The main challenges of the game come from the player figuring out what to do in each new area and what to do with each item they acquire.
Story: The story of “The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition” begins with a news reel revealing that a luxury cruise ship has made its maiden voyage. Unfortunately, the ship goes missing soon after. This is where the player comes in. They are tasked by a company called the Trident Corporation with finding the ship and salvaging anything they can from it.
After finding the ship, the player learns quickly that something is horribly wrong with the ship. There is a lot of blood scattered around the area, and the ship’s electrical systems aren’t functioning properly. There is also a mysterious mirror, which shows the image of a young woman. After fixing the mirror, the player learns that the ship’s mirrors can transport them to an alternate reality, before the incident that occurred on the ship.
What follows is a series of events that slowly reveal what occurred on the ship. Since learning the mystery of the ship is the primary drive behind this title, no more story details will be detailed here. It should be mentioned that the story is, despite the limited amount of dialogue/text, very well written, and has its fair share of twists. Players are also advised to read any pieces of paper or books that they find along the way, as they contain many details about the game’s story.
Gameplay: As stated previously, “The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition" is a point-and-click style puzzle game. This means that a vast majority of the gameplay involves the player tapping the screen to interact with the environment. Tapping on certain objects will cause the player to pick them up, adding the item to their inventory. The player must then find a use for this item, which is usually in a nearby area (although sometimes the player must carry an item for a long time before using it). There are a large number of items that the player will find and use. Some of these items can be hard to see on the screen, so the player must look carefully. Also, some items will be used in unconventional ways, so the player will have to experiment with certain items to find a use for them.
The other major portion of the gameplay involves solving puzzles. A large portion of the puzzles are hidden object searches. These involve the player looking at a screen, and locating a list of items in the shown area. Items marked in white can be seen from the start of the puzzle, but red items are more difficult to find. To find red items, the player must interact with an additional object on the screen to make them visible, such as opening a drawer or breaking a container. These red items can be difficult to figure out on some puzzles, which can be frustrating. Luckily, the game’s hint system will help the player if they get stuck.
The other puzzles in the game vary greatly from puzzle to puzzle. Some of them are simple, and others are more difficult. A fair number of the puzzles involve the player swapping or sliding panels around on the screen. Some of them involve the player placing items such as cogs in the proper position/order. There are other types of puzzles, but to avoid a needlessly long list, no more will be listed here.
The game has two difficulty modes, normal and expert. Normal mode gives the player a shorter recharge time for hints (which will point the player to where they need to go if they choose to use it), and gives the player small clues when they sit idle on a screen for a short period of time. These clues come in the form of a small shining effect appearing over objects that the player must tap. Expert mode causes the player to have a longer recharge time for hints, and the aforementioned clues will no longer appear. Expert mode also penalizes the player if they tap on the wrong spot during the hidden object puzzles.
Presentation: For the purposes of this review, graphics and sound will be combined into one section. This game’s background graphics are well drawn and certainly help to establish the mood of the game. Most environments are very bleak, with broken objects, bodies, blood, and other such things. The parts of the backgrounds that are moving also flow well, and don’t appear to skip frames when moving. Some of the cutscenes, however, do have some choppy animation to them. However, this could be because this author was using an iPad 2 to play the game. A newer device might have allowed the game to run smoother.
The in-game interface does not have much going on with it. This is, however, a good thing for this type of title. The limited interface (which basically just shows the player’s inventory, a menu button, and a button to access the player’s journal) allows the player to view more of the screen and find objects they can interact with easier. The journal is also a nice touch, as it keeps track of the player’s progress and contains images which show the major events that have occurred and the major items that the player has found. If the player stops playing the game for a while, the journal is a useful way to help the player remember where they left off.
The game’s background music really helps to set the mood. Most of the music is very gloomy, keeping the player uneasy throughout the adventure. This unease helps to amplify the feeling of loneliness and the feeling of mystery that surrounds the cruise ship. Other background music includes generic ocean sounds (like waves) and some faster paced pieces during the more intense scenes.
The game’s sound effects are somewhat limited, but they are varied. Each sound effect fits what is going on, as if the player was using the item in the real world. Other sounds, such as creaking doors or objects breaking, also sound like their real-life counterparts. The only sounds that are repeated a lot are the short sound effect that occurs when the player finds a hidden object in the puzzles and, depending on how many times the player moves between scenes while exploring, the sound of the player’s footsteps.
The game’s voice acting is relatively hit or miss. Some of the voices are done very well, with the actors giving a good amount of emotion to their characters. Others seem to be fairly forced, almost as though they are reading straight from the script and putting very little emotion behind the words. Although, considering that some of the characters who speak are relatively insane (especially the aforementioned “forced” ones) this may have been done on purpose.
Value: For a point-and-click puzzle adventure, “The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition” is a relatively lengthy story. Players should expect to spend between 4-7 hours on their first playthrough of the game, depending on how accustomed they are to adventure games like this. The game has a $4.99 price tag for the entire title (although the player can play a demo of the game for free), and whether this title is worth that price is largely up to the player. Some players will find this title too short for that price and others will find it to be fine. However, thanks to the well written story and mentally stimulating gameplay, this reviewer believes it is worth that price. There are also a number of achievements for the player to obtain, although the player will get most of them on their first playthrough. The only ones the player might miss are the ones related to solving puzzles quickly and without using hints.
Final Score: “The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition” is a well-developed point-and-click adventure. The puzzles are varied and the visuals are well drawn and animated. The story is very well written and keeps the player engrossed until the end. The game does have some issues with slow down at times, and the game’s music/voices could have used some more work/variety (though this might have been a limitation due to the game releasing on iOS platforms). The game could have also been a bit longer, but the player’s mileage will vary depending on their familiarity with puzzle games.
“The Cursed Ship, Collector’s Edition” receives an 8.2 from this reviewer.
To learn more about "The Cursed Ship, Collector's Edition," visit its page on the G5 Entertainment website: