Try-It Tuesday: DARKARTA A Broken Heart’s Quest

I didn’t find out about DARKARTA: A BROKEN HEART’S QUEST until a representative from Tutti Frutti Interactive offered me a review copy earlier this month. The game came to PC in 2017 but mobile versions in eight languages are now being released for Android and iOS.

Other than the free review copy, I was not offered nor given any form of incentive, compensation or payment to play this game. As with all of my Try-It Tuesday posts, these are my honest opinions. 

I’ve played a lot of hidden object puzzle adventures over the years and this is one of the best. The scenes are beautiful and the puzzles are incredible to look at, as well as being challenging, engaging, complex, fresh and fun. The music fits the game, especially the tune in the memories room that made me want to burst into tears.

DARKARTA is not only a story about a love triangle that spans lifetimes but is also very much about a mother’s love. Mary must find and rescue her little girl Sophia from an evil immortal. She discovers ghosts, magic, treasure, and the dark secrets from her past life along the way.

A helpful in-game journal provides character descriptions and information, in case the player ever misses anything or feels confused by the story. I noticed a few minor typos and grammatical errors but I thought, overall, the story and voice acting were much better than other HOPA games I’ve played.

There were moments near the end that seemed like they were supposed to be dramatic revelations, yet the information had already been explained by the journal or provided earlier in the game. The conclusion felt a bit rushed and incomplete but the real resolution comes at the end of the bonus chapter, Rising of the Phoenix, so make sure to play that, too.

DARKARTA has four difficulty modes, including a “custom” difficulty where you can adjust several different aspects of the experience, such as the hint recharge rate and the appearance of sparkle clues. I wish every point-and-click puzzle game had this.

Puzzles can be skipped but I didn’t take that option. I found the hidden objects, locks and other mini-games challenging but not impossible.

Inventory items can be used more than once! Hooray! If you’ve watched me play other HOPA games, you’ll know how frustrated I get when knives, axes, scissors, matches and other useful objects just disappear. I know that’s how these games usually work but I’ve long wanted a more realistic experience. At least in DARKARTA, when Mary loses her inventory, it’s because she’s had a boat accident or something that makes sense.

Speaking of making sense, in many puzzle games, the things you have to do with the objects and environment are just crazy. I once played a game where I had to put a corked gourd on some lava so the cork would shoot across a ravine. WTH? In DARKARTA, the environmental interactions aren’t so bizarre. An ax chops wood, stones are thrown to knock something down, a pocket knife cuts a cord, etc.

The only technical problem I had with DARKARTA is the fact that hovering the cursor near the bottom of a scene or puzzle gives the “go back” prompt, when I’m just trying to click a hidden object or pick up something. This got a bit annoying after about the tenth time I accidentally left a puzzle or location. Usually, my puzzle progress would be saved and I wouldn’t have to do it over again, but it was still frustrating.

The collector’s edition comes with several bonus features. Mini-games and hidden object puzzles can be replayed. You can listen to the soundtrack or download wallpaper images. There’s even a full-length prequel comic book that tells the story of the main characters’ childhoods.

I think the developers put a lot of love and attention into DARKARTA and I look forward to playing more games from Tutti Frutti Interactive.

DARKARTA is rated “E” for everyone on GooglePlay but I couldn’t find an age rating on the ESRB website. I think it’s best for ages 12+ as the violence (stabbing and fighting in flashback scenes), spooky aspects (skeletons, ghosts, etc), child abduction and frequent visions of Sophia crying for her mother may be distressing to young children.

~ J.L. Hilton

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