This is the third hidden-object iPad game
we’ve gotten from our good friends at G5 Entertainment this month, along with Spirit
of Wandering and Letters from Nowhere. After playing this one, I’d still put Letters
from Nowhere at the top of the heap. But the Magician’s Handbook comes in a close
second place. I guess the thing that sets this game apart
from the previous two is that it’s a more traditional take on the hidden-object genre.
The background images are mostly static, and there are no fancy animations or cutscenes.
But what it lacks in presentation, the Magician’s Handbook: Cursed Valley makes up for with
its gameplay. For starters, it’s a bit easier to find
what you’re looking for. You move through all the different levels much more quickly,
so the game moves at a faster pace. It’s kind of a refreshing change from other games
that have you staring forever, basically searching for a needle in a haystack. The Magician’s
Handbook is still challenging, but it’s more like looking for chopsticks in a haystack. The game also throws some puzzles into the
cauldron, as well. The idea is that each collection of levels has a set amount of objects you
need to find in order to learn a new spell. Once you find the items, you can learn the
spell, but you usually have to solve a puzzle first. Some of them are match-based, some
of them are word jumbles. But they all break up the inherent monotony
of staring at pictures. And the nice thing is that these puzzles have
more of an impact than their presence alone. The spells they unlock can be used during
the searches. So you can use a repel spell, for example, that clears away some of the
items that aren’t on your list. It’s a nice touch that emphasizes the magician theme
as well as diversifies the gameplay. Of course, for all the things the Magician’s
Handbook does well, it doesn’t really do anything magnificently. It’s a solid hidden-object
game, but it’s also a game you might have a hard time distinguishing from the pack.
For the duration of its 13 chapters, the Magician’s Handbook offers solid hidden-object gameplay. Just don’t expect anything magical.