By: Armaan Khan
Kate Reed is back in Alawar’s House of 1000 Doors: Palm of Zoroaster. This time, she’s trying to save the eponymous house – and her friends who live in it – from a mysterious fire demon that has suddenly appeared and is attacking everything in sight. It’s a trip that will once again take her through magical paintings to exotic locations in an engaging adventure that is well worth your time and money.
As a hidden-object game, Palm of Zoroaster sticks to the well-established formula of the genre; you’ll explore hand-painted environments, solve puzzles and mini-games, and participate in frequent hidden-object hunts. If you’ve played any hidden object game before or even just read about them, you’ll know exactly what to expect here, but that’s not a bad thing. The hidden object sequences are engaging as always, and the puzzles/mini-games are never so tough as to delay your progress for very long. Even if you find something that proves to be insurmountable or annoying, the handy hint and skip features will let you go around them penalty-free. The end result is a snappy experience that keeps you moving forward and keeps your attention as a result.
This is a great thing, because the story deserves your attention. Unlike the first House of 1000 Doors game—in which you helped out four restless spirits with unrelated issues—every location you visit and spirit you meet here has ties to the fire demon, and solving their problems will help Kate solve hers. This makes for a more cohesive and stronger story overall which is a joy to play through. The presentation, with wonderful art, sound, and music, is top-notch as well. Even the voicework—normally a low point in most hidden object games—is pretty good this time around.
As is expected from any HOG Collector’s Edition, once you complete the main adventure you’ll get to play a bonus chapter that offers a lengthy addendum to the main game. The story in the bonus chapter, which I won’t even hint at because it’s quite surprising, is actually stronger and more personal than the main game. It takes you through a number of unique locations and is well worth the extra cost of the Collector’s Edition.
The only truly negative thing about Palm of Zoroaster is Alawar’s installer which, as always, won’t let you choose your installation path and suggests that you install the Ask toolbar and Alawar Game Box (defaulting to yes). The installer is actually worse than before, however, because it now also asks to set your browser home page to start.alawar.com (again defaulting to yes), which annoyed me immensely.
Conclusion – Is It Worth The Money?
If you can look past the installer shenanigans, House of 1000 Doors: Palm of Zoroaster is a solid and engaging hidden object game that is sure to please, even at the higher-than-normal price of $20.
]box]Palm of Zoroaster Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 5 hours
- Widescreen Support – No
- 5.1 Audio – No
- Bugs – None.
- DRM – Activation Code
- Control Scheme – Mouse
- System Specs – Intel Core2 Quad @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, 2GB Radeon 4800
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- Availability – Alawar
- Demo – Yes (1 Hour Limit) [/box]