This week’s new addition to the catalogue of downloadable titles from Alawar Entertainment is set to be the oddly impressive Snark Busters 3. A hidden object videogame, Snark Busters 3 doesn’t follow the typical, well-worn pattern established by the genre; instead it chooses to carve a unique path for all but its storyline.
Playing as young photographer Elizabeth Hughes, the player quickly becomes involved in a tale of treachery as their fiancé is accused of thievery. Of course, Hughes is certain of her lover’s honesty, and immediately sets out to prove his innocence. In doing so, the player must solve numerous hidden object puzzles using keen senses of detection as well as real world clues.
The basic principles of the genre remain in place of course; the player is given the task of finding objects within a still image, and locating all relevant items will allow for progression. A hint system is present, directing players towards the next goal, and occasional animated flurries in the background adding to the character of each scene. The difference in Snark Busters 3 is that it’s not a simple case of one image, a list and an invasive high score system, Alawar Entertainment’s latest has an altogether different arrangement.
Each scene hides a number of incomplete items in the environment that will progress the puzzle, and the player must find the missing parts in order to do so. They may not all be visible at this point however, as the scenes also hide a number of items which, when focused upon, will bring an altogether different image into view, potentially hiding additional objects or presenting an new puzzle all of it’s own. Puzzles within a puzzle, that’s Snark Busters 3, and in that which Electronic Theatre has played, it’s very elegantly designed.
The world in which Snark Busters 3 takes place is fascinating. A unique vision of a steampunk-esque styled landscapes with costumes associated with eccentric characterisation of reality’s past and technology far in advance of our own, sounding confused on paper but holding together remarkably well in-game. Snark Busters 3’s papercraft animation and carefully clichéd character design bring together a world which feels utterly unique, and well worth investing a few hours exploration into.
While the genre may be an immediate turn-off for many, Snark Busters 3 appears to be a videogame that is dangerous to underestimate. So few titles show a passionate abandon for their host genre, especially with respect to the lucrative casual gamer market, and yet Snark Busters 3 appears to relish in the fact that it’s different. Innovation should be respected wherever it appears, be it a AAA first-person shooter, an indie title or a videogame designed purely for play in those ten minute coffee breaks. If Snark Busters 3 manages to bring this sample of gameplay to a climax through several hours of puzzling, this could well be a groundbreaking title worthy of release across more than just a single digital platform.