Length - Short (MAGS)
Engine - AGS
Suitability Factors - Infrequent Mild Language and Violence
And the first person to get two reviews on the blog is (drum roll please)...gah whats the point, you've read the title already anyway.
Mr Danger's Contest was second in the MAGS competition for May and was made by Bill Garrett.
I must confess, the original House on Haunted Hill starring Vincent Price (Legend!) is one of my favourite movies of all time. The reason I mention this is because it is that film I was reminded of when originally reading the synopsis of Mr Danger's Contest.
You play as James McManus whom has been invited to take part in a competition to inherit the fortune of the mysterious Mr Danger. The competition takes place at the mansion of said millionaire and upon arrival it quickly becomes clear that things are a little stranger than perhaps anticipated. As is usually the case with this type of story, the ratio of living to dead in the house soon changes for the worse, and you must find out what's going on before you too end up no longer on the side of the living.
The game does a good job of making you want to play on to see what and why things are happening, which is of course of paramount importance in any mystery story. Mr Danger's Contest manages to introduce some new ideas into the equation as well, with those who are invited to the castle all being blessed with 'Heroes' style abilities.
Overall, the story is well told and the unravelling of the mystery is compelling. My only real problem with this aspect of the game would be the character development (sorry Bill). Getting to know the characters is an important part of this kind of story and could have taken the game up an extra notch in my opinion. I guess this is difficult to do in a short game though.
The atmosphere created is a mixture of mystery with more lighthearted elements thrown in. Not unlike another movie favourite of mine, The Old Dark House (1960's version), the game tries to maintain a humorous element even despite dreadful occurrences taking place.
Graphically, the game is a big improvement on the developer's previous games. The backgrounds are well drawn in spite of the short time-frame available and do a good job of maintaining the atmosphere.
The sound is...strange I think it's fair to say. It doesn't really fit in with the mysterious nature of the game although it does add to the the more lighthearted feel.
The special ability of James McManus allows for a different dynamic in terms of solving puzzles. Whilst I didn't feel this was utilised to its full potential, it did provide something away from the norm. Aside from the ability, there are also other attempts at slightly unique puzzles which for the most part are pulled off pretty well.
There was one issue though that let the gameplay down a little. In fact, I initially gave up early on in the game after becoming frustrated at my failure to progress from a small one room scene. You know the scenario, having failed to find a logical solution you go ahead and try everything on everything about 6 times in the vain hope that it might eventually work. It doesn't though, and you're left thinking 'What the hell! I'm never playing this again!'
Clearly I changed my mind and upon returning to the game I realised the reason I was stuck was that a hotspot was hidden in a dark area of the room, pretty much impossible to see even when turning the brightness up on the monitor. I have no problem with something being hidden in a dark place, but perhaps the player could be provided with a flashlight or makeshift torch to help. Getting or making this type of item could even be made as a purely optional puzzle to just help out those who don't want to pixel hunt in the dark.
In terms of length, I think Mr Danger is quite long for a MAGS game and you 'may' get more than one sitting out of it. Unlikely though as the game is pretty hard to stop playing once you get into it.
Overall I was left with a positive impression of Mr Danger's Contest which seemed highly unlikely when I was stuck during the first puzzle. I'm sure however that if the game hadn't had a strict one month deadline the few kinks it has would have been ironed out. The game's main strength is its story and if you enjoy a mystery then this game is well worth a try.
- Interesting story
- Good mix of puzzles
- Looks good
- One particular pixel hunt could leave players frustrated
- Character development could have been improved
- More could have been made of the special abilities
Download for free;
Mr Danger's Contest