You play as Professor Burns, an archaeologist close to making one of the greatest discoveries ever. Anyone who’s ever seen Indiana Jones or played Uncharted will know that when there’s a priceless historical artefact to be found, there will always be an army of soldiers, and men in suits and sunglasses hunting down the treasure at any cost for your evil arch-enemy. Hidden Ruins plays up to all expectations, and you’re soon racing for the artefact as much to stop Larissa, your rival archaeologist, from getting it as much as you are to discover it yourself. Luckily you’re helped by a cast of characters ranging from a local expert to the daughter of the billionaire funding the expedition.
No ruins would be complete without puzzles that need solving, though, and these form the basis of Hidden Ruins’ gameplay. You have to scour the environment for tools, keys, and clues in order to progress, which is much more difficult than it sounds. Often items are hidden far off in the distance, almost too small to spot, and other times you’re required to find certain objects first before you can locate the others – an example being storing a brush you find and then using it to sweep away sand, unveiling another useful tool. Each location contains unique puzzle-types, ranging from working out a specific order of things using cryptic clues, to devious maths problems. The further you progress the tougher these become.
This is essentially a puzzle solving game, and as that it excels.
Hidden Ruins does feature written dialogue, but not of the sort that will make you laugh or make you any more interested in its narrative. The story itself is shallow and cliché, and you’ll find yourself not paying too much attention to it, and instead focusing on the puzzle at hand. Yet that’s exactly what the developer wanted, and it’s obvious that the story is built around the puzzles just to give them more purpose. This is essentially a puzzle solving game, and as that it excels. From the first chapter the game is fiendishly difficult, and most clues can take much longer to solve than they should do. Along the way you’re awarded with gold stars which can be used to purchase clues, but even these can be as cryptic as the initial one. It’s perhaps not a game for the easily-frustrated, but more for those who find reward in patiently and slowly solving puzzles, even if sometimes they require intervals to clear your mind. Even if the difficulty does become mind-melting, the uniqueness of each puzzle means there’s never a dull moment, and you’ll be as keen to work out the next clue as the first.
Adventure Escape: Hidden Ruins won’t be to everybody’s taste, particularly with the lack of action required from the player, but it’s an excellent game for those who enjoy critical thinking, and the blend of frustration and elation that puzzle games reward you with. Whoever said point and click (or ‘tap’ in this case) adventure games are dead was wrong, and Hidden Ruins is proof of that.