Over the summer, shortly after I got my iPad 2, I began to play the hidden object games available from Big Fish Games. My favorite of them was Drawn: the Painted Tower. It chronicled events in the life of a girl named Iris who is locked away in a tower to keep her safe from the tragedy that befell the rest of her family. Iris has the special capability of bringing her own drawings to life, and the main goal of the game is to utilize the drawings and objects within them to free Iris from the tower so that she can fulfill her role as princess of the land. Sadly, once you reached the end of the game, you were left with a bit of a cliffhanger after you helped her escape from the tower and into the town.
Luckily, Big Fish Games recently released a sequel, Drawn: Dark Flight. In this game players must solve the hidden-object and adventure puzzles, signature in Big Fish titles, in order to continue protecting princess Iris from the malevolent forces that seek to prevent her coming to power. Instead of being trapped inside a tower this time, Iris has hidden herself away in a book. The storyline opens with you buried underneath the tower you once freed Iris from, and in dire need of finding a way to gain access to the tunnel that will take you into town. Once there, the goal becomes lighting three beacons to ward off the evil King’s presence so that Iris can take her rightful place as Queen and (hopefully) banish the horrible intentions of the evil King permanently.
This game has the same beautiful style and rich storytelling inherent in every Big Fish Games title that I have encountered so far. The artwork in every one of them is absolutely incredible, and finding new ways to interact with those environments is an enjoyable and constant challenge. In order to work your way through this particular game, you must pay attention to your surroundings and pick up as many useful pieces as you possibly can. For example, in one instance, you enter the painting of a boat. Within this painting of a boat are many different objects that you have to first notice, then gather, and finally interact with in order to progress further into a drawing that is inside the painting of the boat. This ultimately ends in a situation with you on a ship with a pirate using the touch-screen controls to direct and fire a cannon at sea monsters that try to impede your progress to shore.
As with any Big Fish Games title, you can expect entertaining, challenging, and intriguing puzzles on your path to the end game. The atmosphere in the Drawn series is my favorite, because it is realistic and believable while at the same time being dark and mystical. It is not an extraordinarily long game in the scope of games in their entirety, but good for anywhere from a solid three to six hours of gameplay. I deeply enjoyed playing Drawn: the Painted Tower, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed playing this new title even more. The controls and hint systems have been vastly improved upon, making them more accessible and user-friendly, and the environments have more to interact with in each frame than in the previous game. Every item you pick up and add to your inventory is an important cog in the grander workings of the game. Once you collect enough pieces, you will inevitably activate a puzzle that, while you have the option to skip it after a certain period, you will undoubtedly want to finish on your own because each one has been intricately designed to pull you in and entice you to keep trying until you get it. I particularly like the addition of visual hints rather than written ones. When you get stuck and you need a little bit of assistance, you tap on the “Hint” button and it shows you a short animation of where you should be headed, very similar to the Sheikah stones in the Zelda series. This system of hints is unlimited, but you wouldn’t want to use it too often as it is far more rewarding to figure out the appropriate path on your own.
With it’s slightly dark and wholly intriguing storyline, Drawn: Dark Flight is a great game for just about anyone of any age who enjoys games that are intellectually stimulating. There is no swearing or violence present in this game, or in any other Big Fish Games title as far as I am aware. If you are struggling with ideas for what to get for a loved one this holiday season, perhaps consider getting them an iTunes Gift card and recommend the Drawn series to them. It keeps players entertained for hours, and with the objective tracker in the bottom left corner of the screen it is incredibly easy to stop playing whenever you need to set down the iPad to do something else and then pick up at a later time without losing track of where you left off. As far as I am concerned, Big Fish Games has another masterpiece on their hands with Drawn: Dark Flight. The only criticism that I can offer is that at times the controls for moving from screen to screen can get a little bit frustrating, though if you are having navigational issues you can tap in the center of the screen at an angle towards where you would like to wander, and convenient arrows will pop up on-screen to show you where you can go. Once you tap one, it takes you to the next screen of your choice. I give this game 4.5 out of 5 gears.