Ever since Playdom rocketed the genre into super stardom with Gardens of Time, hidden-object games have been kind of a big deal on Facebook. The developer has been chasing the proverbial dragon ever since with a deluge of hidden-object games, one of its latest being Blackwood & Bell Mysteries.
Of course, Playdom has barely been without challengers, the most recent a joint effort between BBC Worldwide, Legacy Games and 6waves, Jane Austen's Rogues & Romance. (Yes, that Jane Austen.) You know what this means, right?
Ladies and ... well, mostly ladies, welcome to yet another edition of Facebook Game Face-off, wherein we pit two similar Facebook games up against one another to finally settle the score. We'll judge each game on three criteria and ultimately leave it up to you to be the judge of which is the better hidden-object game. Ready ... fight!
Oooh ... Pretty
Jane Austen might have written incredibly poignant, humorous and vivid looks into the female psyche and gender roles in the Georgian Era, but unfortunately the same adjectives can't be used to describes the scenes in Rogues & Romance. Aside from the sparse moving object, the scenes in this hidden-object game fall flat. It also doesn't help that the scenes Jane Austen's novels generally aren't terribly interesting, at least for outsiders.
Playdom, on the other hand, has managed to craft scenes that are both lively with animated objects and fresh with a wide variety of scenes from alleyways to theatre stages and more. And because these scenes pop more than those in its competitor, the objects in Blackwood & Bell are easier to find. Ultimately, that makes us want to find the hidden goodies more.
Admittedly, social is where both games tend to stumble. Rogues & Romance doesn't offer much more than the ability to visit friends' manors and challenge them to timed hidden-object scenarios. It would help if those challenges had more explicit transitions or more build-up to prepare players, but what is interesting about these challenges is that players can send with them with "pride" or "prejudice"--get it?
In the right corner, we have much of the same in Blackwood & Bell, but with plenty more polish and smoother transitions between challenges. Plus, players can send their friends unique messages while visiting to create almost a Words With Friends-style chat system within the game. While Blackwood & Bell has a better sense of camaraderie than its competition, both games to stand to gain in the social features department.
Compelling the Clicks
While fans of Jane Austen might get a kick out of a hidden-object game based around her works, the story crafted to make it happen simply isn't that interesting. (Come to think of it, why not go the "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies" route?) And that ultimately makes for a hidden-object game that fails to dig its talons into our mouse hands.
Blackwood & Bell has a clever way of compelling players to keep on clicking: Make a remotely interesting story. The murder mysteries that frame this hidden-object romp, at the very least, make us want to click on to find out what happens. It helps that the story is tied directly into the play hook: You're not just finding objects, you're finding clues to solve a murder.
A Sensible Conclusion
Super fans of Ms. Austen probably will disagree, but Rogues & Romance simply doesn't provide an interesting enough reason to keep playing. Blackwood & Bell, on the other hand, does with impressive artwork across a variety of locales as well as an engaging story. If you ask us, Blackwood & Bell wins this week's Facebook Game Face-off, but we'd rather see what you think:
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