Let me start by saying that this is not my kind of game. I never played this type of game (Adventure, hidden objective, Mystery) before, so you can expect a review from a player that doesn’t know anything about other games out there with the same genre and so my opinion is based on this game only and I had absolutely no stakes set.
So, the game starts with a brief introduction about the past of who you play as – Mina. Apparently Mina had a grandmother that used to tell her stories about an evil spirit called “Strix”. Now, Mina's grandma is dead and Strix is out loose. The main objective of the game is to stop Strix. Strix became stronger after Mina’s grandmother died and it’s up to Mina to seal him forever.
As soon as you take control of Mina you are to explore her grandmother’s house. To do so, you must solve puzzles, find keys and place missing items. Most of the tasks that reward you with keys or special items require more than just one item and the combination of various items, sometimes. One example is the fireplace riddle: You need to clear the dust, find the matches, find wood, etc. Making a tea for a small creature is another one: you need to fill the jar with water, put the herbs and heat it up but for the riddle to be complete, you need to find a cup and combine the jar with the cup. Most of the items are just scattered around and you collect them by clicking on them. Finding them can sometimes be tricky but each time you enter a room, a list of what you need to find shows up (if on easy or casual modes), so it isn’t hard at all to find them.
The game features 3 difficulties: Easy, well, the easy mode, Casual, the average mode and Adventure, the hard mode. The main different between the 3 of them are the number of times you can ask for a hint and if the list of items of a certain rooms is available or not.
You don’t actually control Mina – while in a room, your actions are limited: you can’t look around or grab everything you want. What you can do is grab certain items that standout, examine certain things and the only way to go to another room is to click on an arrow key that shows up on the edge of the screen. This isn’t a flaw. I can’t imagine myself examining every object out there. It would make the game extremely hard. Of course the fixed screen and the limited control options take away some of the fun. You aren’t exactly exploring the house, you are just clicking with the mouse cursor everywhere and switching between fixed screens but the game-play is still enjoyable.
There’s a huge variety of puzzles although some of them are just way to known like sort a determined puzzle or connect some pipes correctly but most of them are enjoyable and not to hard nor to easy to complete – just right. Some of the puzzles you encounter can sometimes be completed by starting over and over but other times require major concentration, although none of them is challenging. What is challenging is to find what to do with the items you find. A description of what a certain item is would have been nice, especially for people like me who don’t have English as their main language.
Anyway, as the story advances, you encounter fantasy creatures – from gnomes to talking trees, to gruesome wolves and scary dragons. They help you resolve certain riddles and provide with you with information – mostly about who Strix is, what happened in the past and what you need to do, but with terrible voice acting – and that is one of the 2 biggest flaws it has. The story isn’t very original or exceptionally detailed but it’s not flawed either. However, after you finish Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix, you realize you don’t really know much about the story itself. Trust me, if this game didn’t have a good game-play, it wouldn’t be the story to make you complete it. In fact, after I reached the middle of the game, if it were only for the story, I would have given up playing.
So, one of the major flaws about Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix is the voice acting. Each special character has its own unique voice but the way they narrow it’s just awful – it’s not believable and it takes away most of the tension built. The sound effects and background music on the other hand are pretty nice and fit the environment pretty well and never get repetitive or annoying.
The second biggest major flaw is the length of the game. I never completed a PC game so quickly. It took me about one hour and 30 minutes to finish Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix. I am not sure if these type of games are supposed to be short and sweet or if the game was meant to be very hard and time consuming but in case you are wondering I chose the average difficulty – casual.
Welllll… Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix though a small game, can become a little repetitive, specially for impatient players who like some action and the story is..not there at all and people who like challenges might find it ridiculously easy, even at the adventure mode but considering its price (10 bucks at gamersgate) it can be a modest experience. I consider Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix to be a little below average.
Graphics: Adequate for the genre. (low system requirements!)
Sound: Very nice, except for the voice acting.
Story: The game fails to deliver it. Pity.
Replay Value: Nothing to do after you complete it.