I’m a huge fan of hidden object adventures. When done right, they provide a mildly entertaining storyline, and a couple hours of relaxing game play – all wrapped in a portable package just perfect for the DMV, school pickup line, or daily commute. Unfortunately, when done wrong, they are often more a source of frustration than fun. G5 Entertainment is known for bringing a variety of casual games to the mobile platforms we all can’t live without, and their newest game is alternately both a hit and a miss for me.
Some semblance of a story is really a must in this type of game. After all, there has to be some sort of reason why you are looking for all these things, as well as a place to drop clues of what it is you need to find. In When Angels Cry, the story is actually fairly unique. You play as a monk who has been assigned a secret mission to investigate a mysterious disappearance at a distant monastery. Reports have trickled in of an angel statue crying tears of blood, things don’t seem quite right with the new head of the monastery, and the Cardinal wants answers. You’ll need to sneak around to figure out what’s going on, all without raising any suspicion.
It’s a great concept, and one I really wish had been developed a little better. As it is, the story seems both disjointed and undeveloped a lot of the time, and the ending is both completely anticlimactic and leaves things unresolved. Still, even a disappointing storyline can be forgiven if the gameplay is superb. In the case of When Angels Cry, that somewhat depends on your preferences. I prefer a game where it is all about searching for items that are cleverly hidden, and then figuring out what to do with them.
In When Angels Cry, the gameplay is more figuring out what to find, where to find it, and then what to do with it. I could forgive that, except for the fact that it just is not done all that well. What you are supposed to find is a lot of the time completely random, with you clicking on various items in scenes until you finally figure out which items can be interacted with. Even the times when you do know what you are looking, finding it is more a matter of luck than skill.
For instance, in one case you are asked to find a fellow monk’s scattered tools. That’s a fairly standard task for these types of games, and usually a pretty straightforward matter of uncovering well hidden items. In this case, there were tools all over the place – but most of them weren’t the tools you were looking. The tools you were looking for were not distinguished from the other tools in any way – the only way to figure out which tools to pick up was to just click all of them. That isn’t a challenge, it’s an arbitrary task.
In addition to the task of wandering around trying to figure out where to go next, When Angels Cry features a variety of mini games (all skippable, in time, if they aren’t your thing). These range from a Bejeweled type match three game to math puzzles, and are pretty standard fare. They are an interesting distraction from regular gameplay, for the most part.
When Angels Cry is a hidden object adventure that could have been so much more than it is. With an underdeveloped storyline and often frustrating gameplay, it fell short of a relaxing casual game experience for me. However, hidden object junkies who are looking for something different may find the experience worth a few hour of their time, if only for its unique premise.