Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest is the second Hidden Object game released by Tuttifrutti Interactive, an indie game studio who first start working on Darkarta back in 2014, and three years later, the game was finally finished and being sold at popular digital stores such as Steam and Big FIsh Games.
The small team had previously released Antique Mysteries: Secrets of Howard's Mansion, and quickly gained the public’s attention, but Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest brought a whole new success to the studio, and until today, it’s been regarded as a must-play for Hidden Object Game fans.
In ancient India, two major clans coexist, the Eagle Clan and the Snake clan. They are very different and competitive towards each other, but their history is forever linked. Young Anantha, prince of Snake clan is promised to marry princess Nagin, also from Snake clan, but love has many forms and Anantha falls in love with Ameeha, the Eagle clan princess. They grew as friends, but time made them lovers, and when the occasion finally came, Nagin couldn’t accept losing the man who was promised to her, and cursed their love, changing forever the fate of both clans.
The curse remained, but the world changed, and generations came and went, entwined between the different ages. The player takes the role of Mary, who grew up in an orphanage, in the United States. She doesn’t know know her past, but in her present she found James, and they married two years later. From such love, Sophia was born, and nothing seems to be able to destroy such happiness, until the day where Mary receives a mysterious letter from someone claiming to be her relative, located in India. The family packs and set foot on this adventure, without having a single clue of what awaits them is an epic journey of fantasy and ancient memories of love.
The world of Darkarta is a permanent inspiration from Indian folklore and legends, but still evolving an distinct and diversified deck of characters, offering something new and fresh to worldwide players.
A land of fantasy, where magic still rules by the old clans, the player will encounter nothing but fantastic and beautifully enchanted sceneries that will easily hook your eyes to the screen.
Visuals are one of the most important aspects of a Hidden Object game, especially when publishers such as Artifex Mundi present their games with over-the-top quality, and breaking free from the low stack resolutions we’re all used to. But where does exactly Tuttifrutti Interactive places themselves in terms of quality? Well, let us tell you; Aiming High!
That’s right, Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest is presented with top quality designs, animations and even art direction. They might be a less known name in the industry, but this game changes it all.
Presented with 2D hand drawn artwork, the landscapes are extremely detailed, creating the perfect atmosphere for the adventure at hands. Over 20 unique backgrounds across different chapters provide a large variety of landscapes filled with mystery.
Such as in many other top-games, 2D animation is present to give an illusion of 3D, and thus successfully adding more emphasis to the story across its visuals.
Resolution is the weakest link, locked at 1366x768, therefore having a native resolution of 720p. Upscaling works well, and doesn’t affect the design extensively, nor the Hidden Object scenes. Items are not affected and stay clearly visible (despite the challenging factor), making it pleasant to look at.
Cutscenes push the story forward with an emotional factor that transpires onto the artwork. Well directed and emotionally attaching the player with good visuals clearly made with passion.
Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest is a perfectly balanced fusion of traditional Hidden Object scenes with a few modern approaches to the genre, such as finding special objects in scenes where finding one might unlock another item that will further decipher even more objects within the same challenge. Not necessarily new, but still interesting to see, as well traditional approaches which have multiple waves of objects to find. Surely creating a satisfying memento and tries to diversify the category. There aren’t repetitive scenes through the same location, so one will not be looking for objects in the same place, and this further extends how Tuttifrutti Interactive pushes new content across the campaign.
Along with the usual Hidden Object scenes, there are 30 puzzles and also mini-games that offer all sorts of goals and challenges. Simple methods of combining pieces until finding the correct image, or rotating gems with specific colors are some examples presented within the game. Although those are predictable, developers used a wide variety of puzzles to avoid lack of originality. Some are classics, others are an ample and successful attempt to create something unique within the proper concept and atmosphere.
The difficult progresses through easy and low-medium challenges, with intuitive objectives and is perfect for newcomers to the genre, or simply for anyone looking for a casual adventure.
If a good flow is something that appeals you, Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest is going to a pleasant surprise, as the game has chapters across the campaign, where previous areas become inaccessible. This is part of the game’s direction with its up forward story, making it easy for players to keep advancing, without forcing one to regress in previous areas in hopes to find any necessary item.
This approach also influences how many objects our protagonist Mary carries, avoiding hoarding unnecessary objects on specific locations and therefore contributing to a much more story-focused game.
Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest had a few patches and updates, where fixes were progressively released, proving the team behind Darkarta is responsible and cares about gamer’s feedback. A lot of improvements were added as well, such as Steam Trading Cards and Achievements to further solidify their commitment. As it stands, the game is 100% stable and performs fantastic with a consistent 60fps during gameplay, although framerate drops are usually among Hidden Objects due to the engine itself, and as expected, Darkarta is no exception.
After the success of the original game, Tuttifrutti Interactive released the Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest Collector's Edition, that features more content and a few extras for a slightly less amount of money. Both versions feature the game in its full state, but the early version now entitled “Standard Edition” misses the extra chapter entitled Rising of the Phoenix. This extra hour of gameplay adds three new cutscenes and two new puzzles.
Along with a new ending, players can collect in-game Memories, which are 30 objects that can be later viewed in the Gallery and portraits the love of Mary for Sophia, a unique complicity that helps us understand more about their importance and connection within the game's story.
At the same gallery, players can go through the 12 concept art images, 27 cutscenes, replay the 17 Hidden Object scenes and download 33 wallpapers with the specific resolutions; 1024x768, 1366x768, and 1920x1080.
Although the soundtrack is available as an extra DLC, Collector's Edition offers an in-game soundtrack that can be listen through the Extras menu, but only with 12 from the 15 tracks that featured in the game.
Tuttifrutti Interactive made sure Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest had a very solid and comprehensive storyline, and if one enjoyed the game, they can now download the Comic Book called “Nagin An Untold Lost Story”, a prequel to the events of the game. This short but interesting digital comic book can be downloaded through the official website, or viewed directly from the game’s Extra menu.
An emotional story of love, sacrifice, and timeless passion, with memorable characters and above all, the endeavor of a mother who does everything in her power to save her daughter and establish balance between the present and the past.
Without music, the game wouldn’t have such a strong impact, and exactly a dozen of tracks give an extra excitement and dedication to this adventure. Epic atmospheric classic tunes, thrilling passages and magical sounds, all combined through the different stages of this journey. Composed by Justin James, Joshua R Mosley & Peter Gundry, the music suits perfectly with the atmosphere and events, making this an unforgettable experience.
The overall audio is top-tier with full-voiced cutscenes and events, and although the animations miss lip sync and subtitles sometimes fail to display, the voices are about what you’d expect from a professional indie game nonetheless.
With a gameplay up to 10 hours or more, Darkarta: A Broken Heart's Quest deserves the awards it has won, such as “Best Quality of Art” at Game Connection America 2017. Gamers will surely enjoy this adventure in a setting we rarely see, but deeply appreciate.
A story of love that broke time it self, a sacrifice capable of change the past itself, Darkarta is without a doubt a tremendous surprise and one lovers of Hidden Object games cannot pass.