three-cards-bigIt is hard to anticipate if a casual player would appreciate some serious depth of the game he or she is playing – but I strongly believe that nobody would say “no” to an exciting story and some revolutionary (or, better said, “revolutionarish”) features. And that’s what Three Cards to Midnight is offering: true, unexpected value and incredible depth for a match three game.

I was tempted at first, due to the huge amount of cutscenes in Three Cards to Midnight, to skip them all and get to the “important” part – playing the game – but fortunately I was quickly sucked in by the story and I soon realized that I was no longer playing just to beat the game, but to find out how the story goes, hoping that the ending will be impressive (and yes, it is, but more on that a bit later – without any spoilers, so don’t worry!).

Three Cards to Midnight, developed by Big Finish Games (which I initially thought it was a parody to the Big Fish Games concept, but it’s not), tells the story of Jess, a woman who lost her memory and wants to uncover her past. She will do so bit by bit, with the help of a tarot card reader who will have her search for clues in her own memory. And really, I repeat: the cutscenes, even though kind of lengthy, must not be skipped unless you want to miss out a great story!

three-cards-to-midnight01Gameplay-wise, Three Cards to Midnight doesn’t follow the classic “hidden object” route in which you get a room filled with all sorts of items and you kill your eyes trying to find them all. Instead, it offers you a set of “keywords” associated with the location you’re in and you will have to create new words using objects in the room. For example, if one of the keywords in the early stages is “note”, if you will click on a book you will have “notebook” or if you click on a key you will have a “keynote”. There is a set number of words you will have to find – some not as obvious as the ones in my examples – and you will certainly have some great time trying to find them out.

You also have a pre-set number of hints but you can gain one or two more per level after choosing the correct objects, but you can also lose everything and be forced to start over if you miss too many words. This is good on one side but can get a bit frustrating in the long run: you’ll start with the same keywords and objects every time and you’ll have to click on the same things over and over again. This, of course, if you miss too much!

three-cards-to-midnight02There are also minigames in Three Cards to Midnight – but these can be skipped if you wish to. However, if you will do so, you might lose some important bits from the story, which is quite sad. But if you’re in a hurry or if you get stuck… there is a way out.

And Big Finish Games didn’t stop the innovations of the hidden object genre here! They have also introduced multiple endings into play, which adds a bit of extra replay value to the game. However, the ending I got was so satisfactory that I didn’t feel the need to restart playing (but this is not a bad thing at all!)

The graphics are simply amazing – from static 2D stills in the “hidden object” part to really, really well done 3D animations in the story mode. The visuals are generally dark and spooky, going well with the game’s focus and perfectly backed up by the soundtrack – and even the voice acting which is quite surprising for a hidden object game!

three-cards-to-midnight05Conclusion
Simply put, Three Cards to Midnight is everything you could wish from a hidden object game: it innovates the genre without making you feel like playing something completely new and unfamiliar, it adds in some amazing depth with a great story, it cares about the visuals and sounds and the overall player experience. It is obviously a game made by a team of pros who didn’t want to just throw in some objects inside some messy settings and say that they have created a game. No, Three Cards to Midnight is much more: it is a real game, it is a must play, it is a title that will certainly be remembered.

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