Released back in 2012, Tales of Sorrow: Strawsbrough Town first hit BigFish Store, with well received feedback and reviews. Seven years later, the game developed by Urchin Games, a Pakistan based team, is finally available on Steam through HH-Games. Have the years made an impact, or should we appreciate such effort?
Alfred and Melissa are just about to commemorate their very first wedding anniversary, and everything seems perfect. The cake is ready and the romance is tuned idyllically, until someone knocks on their door in the middle of the night. An old lady comes through asking for assistance. Although reluctant, the couple accepted to help her for the time being. To compensate for their hospitality, the mysterious lady offers a strange ring to Melissa, who doesn’t waste any time in trying it out. Almost instantly, a curse surrounds her, putting her into a deep state of sleep, with her life hanging on a thread.
It is now up to Alfred, to look for clues regarding this curse, and do whatever it takes to save his wife Melissa. His journey will take him across the picturesque Strawsbrough Town, with a fair share of surprises waiting for him, including the mysterious Mayor's mansion, a Carnival in town, and we can’t overstep, the outskirts of town, among many other places.
Players take the role of Alfred in a simple but pleasant storyline across the town, meeting several NPC’s to further discover the truth behind the curse. The narrative is enjoyable, with pretty decent dialogue lines. The whole story is constructed around mystery, without any major twists or ground breaking turns, but still delivering a smooth and casual adventurous experience of events.
Tales of Sorrow: Strawsbrough Town plays out as you’d expect from a Hidden Object game. Players adventure themselves through the ominous town of Strawsbrough, looking for clues and completing Hidden Object scenes to find key items. Each location has multiple scenes, but all with 12 different objects to find. Once players go through a location, when returning the previous found objects won’t show on the scenario, but in specific occurrences, the whole Hidden Object Scene will reset. This is most likely to create an extra challenge.
We can still appreciate the attention to each scene, with quite the variety and good looking placement of objects. Its distinct originality makes objects quite intuitive to find, especially when players return for a second or third time. The small town is filled with the perfect dark vibe, with a great ambient atmosphere surrounding it. Although it’s visuals are low definition, there’s still some attention to detail.
Despite all engine limitations, cutscenes are displayed in beautiful 3D CGI animations, which was pretty amazing for it’s time. Even today, we can enjoy well crafted CGI, but it’s always pleasant to watch the characters come to life in these types of games. Background animations are also part of the vibe, delivering a bright wave over the course of Alfred’s journey.
Players can choose the starting difficulty, either Casual or Hard. Casual has, the faster recharging Hint option, and sparkling locations to guide your adventure, while the Hard mode makes players trust their gut and follow the clues. Players travel through the town in specific areas, with some slight backtracking to do, but not in an obnoxious way that would force one to search mindless for, let’s say, a Hidden Object Scene. In this game, if you find yourself in a specific area, it’s 99% guarantee that the missing item is around that location, and not all the way back in the beginning. Even though, Tales of Sorrow: Strawsbrough Town is not as big as it first looks, but still delivers a fair share amount of Mini-Games, that suit perfectly those looking for a simple and easy time.
1024x768 is the standard native resolution, and one can use the “Widescreen Correction” option to stretch it, and have a full experience, but considering how it looks on 1080p, I advise you to play at 4.3, and deal with the black-side-bars, but still retaining the visual quality! It’s important to get out as much as possible since it can help out on Hidden Object Scenes, to spot that well hidden item, even though I personally haven’t noticed how the low resolution permanently affected the objects.
Surprisingly, the game has Vsync enabled and runs at stable 60fps, and if you perhaps are not getting it, activate Vsync on your GPU panel. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options within the game, but the simple ones available are Fullscreen Mode, Widescreen Correction and Audio tune-up. Clearly not what we’re used to in today’s age, but it’s a reflex of how things change.
The soundtrack is another surprise, and probably an aspect one would overlook when wondering if Tales of Sorrow: Strawsbrough Town is a good purchase option. Sound portrays perfectly well with the dire atmosphere, and each hotspot has a very unique tune attached, evoking neo-classic melodies. Sound effects are on the spot, with entertaining elements, but somehow cliché. The entire game is full voice casting, and although their expressions are generic and basic, it’s still entertaining with an emotional attunement.
Tales of Sorrow: Strawsbrough Town is a very pleasant and recommended adventure, particularly for beginners who want a smooth experience with easy mini-games. A quest of restoring love, in a simple but well directed narrative, delivering casual fun, despising technical limitations. The town of Strawsbrough may not have aged well, but its spirit is still enjoyable, making it a worthy purchase, even 7 years later.