Lately the trend in hidden object adventures is to make every game a Collector’s Edition. That means tossing in a lot of “extras” and jacking the price up 100%. Not many developers are making both a regular and a Collector’s Edition anymore, but good news for us – Taba Games has done it with Calavera: Day of the Dead.
It’s fairly obvious that the makers of this quirky adventure are fans of Tim Schafer’s immortal point-and-click adventure Grim Fandango. As the name indicates, the story revolves around Mexican Day of the Dead imagery, at the center of which are umpteen colorful “calaveras” (spanish for skull). You play an American boy in love with a pretty Mexican girl named Catalina and just as the two of you are about to ask her father for her hand, she’s kidnapped by a supernatural entity called The Baron. Naturally, you go after her and that means following your love to the Land of the Dead.
This is where the comparisons to Grim Fandango can easily be drawn since that game also takes place in the Land of the Dead and provides countless opportunities for clever visual jokes. Calavera takes full advantage of its setting by creating an amusing cast of skeletal characters who are all voice-acted well and add a touch of Beetlejuice-ian humor to the proceedings.
The graphics are colorful, the environments unusual, and the effects skillfully handled as again, the skeleton-theme is extended to weird mechanical things and tons of funny props. The game’s hidden object scenes are somewhat cluttery (going against the grain of recent h.o.s which seem to be taking a more minimalist approach) but are triggered in fun ways (like one that takes place inside a shady salesman’s trench coat) and are fun to play.
Calavera’s puzzles are entertaining too, provide a modest challenge and maintain the Mexican visual motif. The game as a whole is very well constructed and does an admirable job of weaving item collection throughout the locations from the beginning to the end of the game. It also takes the time to inject some interesting narrative points to explain the Baron’s reasons for kidnapping pretty Catalina.
Since this is the basic edition of Calavera: Day of the Dead don’t expect any extras (beyond a strategy guide). Do expect a hidden object adventure that has more to offer in terms of visual originality than most games, Collector’s Editions or otherwise.
For more information about Calavera: Day of the Dead or to buy the game, visit the Big Fish Games’ official website.