Jane Sinclaire’s on the pixel hunt for the mysterious city of Adera

adera episode 1 gd early impressions

My mother, when she was heavily gaming on her less-than-subtly pink Nintendo DS, leaned towards titles where the main goal was to mostly find hidden objects on a single screen full of objects, with usually some cockamamie narrative wrapping to provide the player with just cause for exploring this underwater sunken ship or that ancient ruler’s treasure room. You know, mega hits like Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville and Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society. These quests occasionally featured other styles of puzzles too. I feel like Adera from Hit Point Studios fits the same mold, which is why I gave it a shot, though its production qualities are much more refined.

Adera is an episodic adventure about Jane Sinclaire, an auburn-haired archaeologist in search of her previously thought-dead grandfather, as well as the mysterious city of Adera, after receiving a message from him. The first episode, “The Shifting Sands,” is free to download and play and will take one roughly a couple of hours to complete, especially if you are searching for every butterfly and animal totem collectible like I did. I think it came out for Windows 8 a couple years ago, but I played it on my laptop, which got Windows 10 as a free upgrade some months back. All that said, the game is clearly designed for tablets and touch surfaces and still retains a lot of the language, such as instructing players to swipe left or right to move between locations when, in reality, I have to click a blue arrow with a mouse.

Story aside, as it is ultimately generic and only there to put you in exotic, mystical locations so you can slide tiles around and collect cog wheels, the cutscenes and transitions from room to room are actually quite nice. Better than I expected, to be honest. Adera also features some voice acting, and nothing atrocious stood out like in previous point-and-click adventure games, but Jane is mostly on her own in this adventure, as her partner Hawk–cool name, bro–works on fixing their broken helicopter. She inner monologues a bit, but also write in her diary; alas, the font used is tough to read, and so I skipped most of her passages.

My favorite puzzles are the same that my mother enjoyed, which are finding a list of hidden objects on a screen littered with junk and misdirection. I don’t know. There’s just something especially relaxing about these in the same way that I’m into word finds; my eyes take control and scan away, seeing things in front of other things or catching the sliver of a handle, which might belong to a knife, which, oh, look, there’s a knife on my list of things to find, click it, yes, that was it and…oh, sorry. I think I drifted a bit there. See what I mean? There’s maybe three or four of these in “The Shifting Sands.” Anyways, there’s a handful of other puzzle types to solve, but none of them are terribly hard to figure out, and the places you need to investigate–at least on the middle difficulty I selected–glow purple, so you won’t miss any key items. If need be, you can always hit the “hint” button for a clue, but “hint” buttons are for chumps.

While the first episode of Adera was free to play, it’s looking like $19.99 will snag you the other four slices of content. Hmm. Think I will pass. Unfortunately, I’m not fully hooked enough to invest that kind of pocket change, especially when I can find other hidden object games relatively easy online when I need a fix, and so I’ll leave the ponderous, courageous Jane Sinclaire where I last saw her, among the shifting sands, her pockets full of pointless animal totems.

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