Despite all the work that needs done — shopping, sending cards, mailing client gifts, writing the annual newsletter, decorating, cooking — December is a lovely time of the year. Casual gamers can get in the holiday spirit with the charming scenery in Holly: A Christmas Tale. Playing the game, however, puts a player in a different mood — not a good one at that.
The hidden object game and Christmas tale is simply too hard. In almost every level, I need to rely on hints. Good thing for hints because once the game points out where the object hides — I’m perplexed as to how someone can find an object completely hidden behind another object. Not even a hint of color around the front object’s edges.
In same cases, the object has parts of it barely showing. Well, is it a bear? A rabbit? A toy? Who knows? That means wasted clicks on every unidentifiable object and losing precious time.
What’s more is that some objects look nothing like what they’re supposed to be. Or a different object looks very much like an item on the list of objects to find. The scene with the animals was a nightmare. Find a swan and I click on what’s clearly a swan, but it’s not the right one.
Another nightmare for those who love the torture is the bags scene where players must find the bag that belongs to the listed country. Now, the list only shows one country at a time, so you can’t view the full list and figure out which bag might go with which country. The first one up is Austria. First thing that comes to mind about the country is music. Eventually, I give up and use a hint. When the game shows me the bag, I’m puzzled because I see no relation to its design and Austria. This happens for other countries.
I tried to access the bag game, but I keep getting stuck on the Russian doll (matryoshka dolls) level and can’t get out of it even when I find them all. After landing on that level for a fourth time, I quit.
The agony doesn’t stop there. In one level, Santa meets children who don’t speak English, so the kids make hand signs (shadowed pictures) of what they want. A nice idea, but poorly executed because there are many similarities of what the hand sign shows and objects in the scene that aren’t the right ones.
To advance to the next level, I click anywhere on the game map. When I arrive on level 23 or so, I click near the bottom of the map so I could play the next level only to find myself replaying a different level. Oh, the aggravation! I couldn’t get out of it. It’s just not clear where to click to advance because the map doesn’t clearly point the next spot. So I start clicking the lower right-hand corner for the rest of the game and that worked in ensuring I played the next level.
Not only do players search for well-hidden objects, but also compare two scenes to find the differences. At different points of the game, players will need to find 20+ objects of a similar nature ranging from flowers and Christmas tree ornaments to stars and fruits (someone has to do the holiday cooking, after all.).
I want to praise Holly: A Christmas Tale since — aside from the overly hidden items and difficulty in playing a different level — it is a charming game. It doesn’t help the game ends the way it does considering this is a seasonal game. If the developer has plans to make another — I’m all for it as long as it fixes the problems and annoyances.
Holly: A Christmas Tale has much potential thanks to its cartoon-style design and decent audio. So many hidden object games rely on photography-style design, so it’s a wonderful change to play one with a different style. The story isn’t spectacular, but it comes together nicely.
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista
- 800 MHz minimum
- 256 MB RAM
- DirectX 9.0 or later