I was not expecting a new Reflections of Life game being released, especially not in January which is usually a slow month for casual games. We already had Hidden Expedition: The Fountain of Youth released and I thought that was the only top notch game we’d be getting this month, but I was very wrong, apparently. Reflections of Life: Dark Architect Collector’s Edition was launched and chosen as a Big Fish Games Editor’s Choice, so I knew we were up for a real treat. But I wasn’t expecting it to be so delicious!
Hearing just the story of the game doesn’t make you insta-buy it. In Reflections of Life: Dark Architect, you play as the guardian that’s been summoned to save the world once more after one of the ancient Architects that created your world went a bit crazy and decided to do everything they can (including destroying the world) to get his hands on the Dark Ruby. He does have a sad story behind – the love of his life died and he desperately wants to bring her back from the dead, but you don’t do that by destroying entire worlds. It’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen!
So yeah, the story is pretty standard in terms of hidden object adventures, but you still have to give the game a try because everything else is so brilliantly done that you will simply ignore the story that you’ve heard a million times already in other games.
There are actually some really nice gameplay additions that make this title even more spectacular than it is when you first see it. Together with the owl companion that follows you around and the interactive map, you also have the special Architect Lenses that you find while playing and they can be activated just once to show you a hidden place. “Activating” the lense triggers a minigame, so it’s also a trick to make the game longer, but one I will gladly take because it’s a nice feature! We also have a nice pop-up story book that we “read” going from a page to another, solving and replacing elements, making the entire experience a lot more complex. I really enjoy to see game developers going the extra mile to bring us something that really entertains, and not just release a game that we will buy just because we like hidden object titles.
The hidden object scenes are amazing as well, extremely detailed and nicely done, offering the entire arsenal of game modes (silhouettes, list scenes, interactive and so on). You can play a Match three game instead of them, but I never did because they were too beautiful. The same can be said about the mini-games and puzzles which are extremely varied and come in great numbers. Not too difficult, but all of them extremely fun, even the repetitive ones for activating the Lenses.
Visually, Reflections of Life: Dark Architect delivers true eye candy. Even though a bit focused on the purple hues, the game still manages to offer a warm and varied palette of vibrant colors, with great attention paid to all details and all scenes looking wonderful. There’s always something for you to click on and get the most out of. The experience is completed by the great soundtrack and nice voice overs, resulting in a complete and surprisingly well done overall experience.
The Collector’s Edition brings all the bling you usually get from such editions: 65 hidden Observers (which you must collect in each scene and they’re really fun to find!), Achievements, replayable mini games and hidden object scenes, new chapters, wallpapers, music and so on. Really good content too that adds extra value to the entire package.
All in all, I would highly recommend Reflections of Life: Dark Architect to all fans of the genre and all those looking to play a really high quality hidden object adventure!