Things are getting kinda crazy at the asylum…
Rose is a special little girl. She has imaginary friends, like most girls, but Rose’s imaginary friends aren’t so imaginary. They are the ghosts of people who have died under mysterious circumstances, and they need Rose to help them resolve their deaths before they can rest in peace. As you might imagine, that whole idea didn’t necessarily set so well with Rose’s wealthy and conservative father, whose aforementioned wealth has been put to the task of cutting Rose’s more unconventional mother completely out of her life during their recent divorce. When her father admits Rose to an asylum under the questionable care of Dr. Sigmund Fraud, things start to take a turn for the worse.
Your goal in Redrum: Dead Diary is to solve puzzles to help uncover the culprit in the deaths of each of Rose’s new friends. Each chapter represents a murder, and you’ll find hidden objects, search for matching patterns, and more to figure out who is behind it all. Rose tells her uncle, who is a police detective, the things she learns from her friends, and he makes the arrests. The puzzles fit well with the story, which makes the game really flow. You’ll investigate crime scenes, find fingerprints, examine samples, and so forth in your quest for the truth.
Redrum: Dead Diary is not a game that will have you wandering around trying to find the next clue. The gameplay consists entirely of the puzzles you are given. There are hints available during the puzzle, but none of them are skippable, so if you find yourself getting stuck you’ll just have to soldier through. The puzzles really aren’t difficult though, so that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, I found them to be a bit easier than I’m used to, but they were still challenging enough to be fun.
The story is told completely in text. In between puzzles, you’ll read emails between Rose’s divorcing parents, personal notes of the greedy Dr. Fraud, case notes from Rose’s uncle, and you’ll also get to read from Rose’s diary of her deceased new friends- the Dead Diary mentioned in the title. The letters and notes actually work really well to tell the story. They are concise and informative, and give you an idea of the personalities behind it all. In fact, for the most part I thought the story was the best part of the game. Unfortunately, it makes a bad first impression with a really cheesey and confusing intro, but it’s well worth sticking around, as it does get better.
The puzzles are a nice mix of different types of hidden object puzzles. It’s pretty much all object searching, but the developers mix it up for variety, and that is a nice touch that keeps the game interesting. Sometimes you’ll look for a certain number of an item in a picture (for instance, bullets hidden throughout a theater). Other times you are given small pieces of picture, and you must find where they came from in the larger screen. Some puzzles will give you only the outlines of the objects you need to find, and you need to both figure out what and where they are. Finally, there are also a fair number of standard hidden object puzzles, where you are given a list of items to find on the screen. One thing that bothered me about these was the way the list was laid out – you could only see a small part of the items list at a time. You could scroll back and forth to see it all, but that was kind of a pain. It’s nice to be able to see more at once, so you can more efficiently finish the puzzle. Still, they were fun, and challenging enough.
Redrum: Dead Diary is an entertaining hidden object adventure that offers a lot of variety in the puzzles, and an intriguing story to boot. While it starts off a bit cheesey, it’s worth sticking through that to get to the real story. The puzzles are fun, but not too challenging, which should make it accessible to kids as well as adults. However, the themes of murder and death might be a bit much for younger kids, even if they aren’t presented in a particularly frightening way.