May 18 2010
How could I resist another HOG (hidden object game) adaptation of a romance novel? This time, it’s Vision in White, based on the first book of Nora Roberts’s contemporary romance Bride Quartet series.
The book series revolves around four childhood friends, who share a love for weddings that led each to develop a speciality of their own: photography, bakery, organisational skills, and floristry, which in turn led them to form a wedding planning company: VOWS.
Vision in White (ViS from now on) is the story of photographer Mackensie “Mac” Elliot and high school teacher Carter Maguire. (I should say at this point that even after finishing this game twice, I still haven’t quite fully understood their story, so forgive me if I cocked up some story details during this review. Please feel free to correct me in comments.)
- When a casual fling turns steamy for a brilliant wedding photographer, life remains less-than-picture perfect. Relying on girlfriends to cope with the reality of her past, will Mackensie capture the romance, or will her narcissistic mother and fear of commitment be the prophetic snapshot of her future? Take part in Nora Roberts’ best-selling novel in
Nora Roberts Vision in White
- , a fun Hidden Object game.
I haven’t read the novel so I went into this game blind. When the game opened to a splash page, my first thought was “Pretty.” And a couple of seconds later, the next thought: “White. A lot of white.” I had no idea how much this would affect me later in the game.
Before the game started up, a video of Nora Roberts herself appeared. I didn’t have sound on - thanks to a sound card problem – and there were no subtitles, so I didn’t know what she talked about. I’m assuming it was a welcome introduction. After the usual round (configure settings in Options if necessary; type in your name in Players and then click to play), a dialog pop-up appears: Timed Mode or Carefree Mode.
In Carefree mode, you take time playing the game and in Timed Mode, it’s thirty minutes per chapter with a countdown, which can be seen on the clock face. As far as I can see, difficulty levels and four mini games in both Timed Mode and Carefree Mode aren’t different.
I had forgotten to let the timer run its course to see what would happen. Having played ViS twice, I don’t have the energy to fire it up again. Perhaps a DA reader could confirm my guess: when you run out of time, you have to start from the beginning of a chapter you were in.
In the main layout, there is a bar located on the left side with a clock face at top, a list area in the middle, and a Hints system with four decorated letters – VOWS – below. Those four letters are hidden randomly within a playable scene. When you locate all VOWS letters, you gain a hint. Some were devilishly hard to find, but fret not: the Hints system will recharge itself within a minute if you couldn’t find all VOWS letters when you have no hints left.
The Hints system has a feature I’d not seen in other games I played so far. When you click on the Hints system, an orange rectangle arrow appears. You just simply point and click it on an item on the list, allowing you to decide instead of letting the game decide which item it’d highlight. I really liked this feature.
Vision in White is a surprisingly straightforward HOG, with four rotating mini wedding-related games: cake decoration, photography, flower arrangement, and table escorting.
Each of those mini-games – which didn’t take me longer than a minute – is tied to each of four best friends: Mac the photographer, Parker the organiser, Laurel the cake maker, and Emma the florist. When you complete one of those mini games through the game, you gain a bonus hint. You can skip a mini game if you don’t need a bonus point.
I skipped every instance of the cake decoration mini-game because some colour shades were too subtle. The icing, for instance, has eight colours: ivory, white, pale green, beige, darker beige and so on. I admit that each time this mini-game appeared, I swore at the monitor. I detested it that much.
Almost all objects in playable scenes are related to Mac or Carter’s life – clothes, shoes, photography items, organising, wedding theme, school room, and so on. I was grateful for this, to be honest. Each HOG scene is related to the events within the story. For example, when Mac’s friends decide to cheer Mac up by taking her out to a night club, we get a playable scene of champagne glasses, shoes, handbags, ear-rings and telephone numbers all over the place inside a hired limo.
Some hidden objects were near impossible to find, because some were colour-coordinated with bigger objects. Some objects were so tiny that it bordered on pixel hunting. At times like this, I relied on Hints to help me out because too many times, my eyes kicked and screamed when I had my face close to the laptop monitor screen to find those objects. So this would probably frustrate those with poor visibility.
Vision in White is eye-pleasing, but I eventually dreaded playable scenes with all things white or other pale colours – the snow, wedding dresses, table cloths, windows, pale pink flowers, white-grey VOWS letters, snowflakes, white birds, and so on. There was so much whiteness that it surprisingly hurt my eyes. Because of this I had to take breaks from the game. Not all scenes are that pale, but there were enough to affect my gaming.
Although every scene is tied to the story, I didn’t have a strong sense of the story itself. It’s a series of impressions, really. A synopsis of the story, even. Actually, I admit I thought Mac was actually Nora Robert herself, probably because of the NR video at the start, because both have red short hair and a similar taste in clothes. Heh!
As far as I can see, Mac appeared head-strong, assertive, a go-getter, and passionate about photography, but commitment-phobic due to her mother’s antics. She became friendly with a client’s friend, Carter Maguire, who came across as a warm, friendly, laid-back and considerate person. As the game progressed, it became clear that the angst lay with Mac and that Carter was pretty much her pillar of support and stability, which I thought was nice. It was a bland and safe romance, basically, but it would be good for players at 14 or over. As far as I can recall, it doesn’t feature drugs, smoking, irresponsible actions and such. There is an implication of Mac and Carter going upstairs after an evening together, but you never see them kissing and sharing a bed. There is a negative portrayal of Mac’s mother, though.
Looking on the bright side, the ViS storyline is much more coherent and “realistic’ than the one in Harlequin Presents: Hidden Object of Desire. Although I have no idea if the game was faithful to the novel, I think players who have already read the novel would probably enjoy it a lot more. You don’t need to read the novel first to play the game, though. Well, it didn’t affect my game play.
As a player who prefers adventure-style HOGs, I found ViS rather dull, but there isn’t anything wrong with ViS. It was bland and inoffensive, but it delivered what it promised. It’s a matter of gaming preferences, really, as it seems much more suited to those who prefer traditional HOGs. With this in mind, I feel ViS deserves a B-.
The next game adaptation of Nora Roberts’s Bride Quartet series is Bed of Roses, featuring florist Emma Grant and architect Jack Cooke, and it’ll be released at the end of this year. Further adaptations of the Bride Quartet series will be released during 2011.
Vision in White is available as free one-hour demo: Windows. As far as I can see, the Mac and Linux versions are not yet available.