Yuletide Legends: Who Framed Santa Claus is a Hidden Object style game developed by Brave Giant. In it, you take the role of a detective trying to prove the innocence of Santa Claus.
The story of the game is a crime drama based around Yuletide, the alleged home town of Santa Claus. You play as a young woman getting ready to relax on Christmas night, the most celebrated holiday of Yuletide. You don’t have plans to attend any party or visit family; technically you are still on duty, but the day seems quiet.
While all seemed like nothing could go wrong, a strange package appears under your Christmas tree. For all intents and purposes, it seems like a wrapped-up present, and when opened it only contains a stuffed toy bear dressed as a pirate. All of a sudden, the pirate comes to life and warns the detective to stay home tonight, or else. With that, it disappears, and a knock is heard on the door. The detective opens it up on edge, but it was only Miss Claus, acting incredibly distraught. One glass of punch and a deep breath later, she tells you that Santa was arrested for stealing presents! With all these strange visitors, you know only two things; that the quiet night is over, and that this will be one heck of an adventure.
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It is easy to be hooked by the game’s narrative since it is so well presented in more than one aspect. Like most detective games of this genre, Yuletide Legends has some gorgeous backgrounds to look at, which are quite filled with details telling their own story of the world. This is to be expected since the core gameplay involves looking carefully at the backgrounds for clues and items. What is less expected is that the game is fully voice acted, making you truly feel and empathize with everyone and their woes. The characters are also animated, even if slightly; it is not truly 3D, but it gets the job done and along with everything else in the visual and audio department, you can’t help but be immersed in what is going on.
Gameplay wise, this is the classic hidden object formula. You travel to different maps looking for items and solving puzzles. Most puzzles need to be unlocked with the correct combination of items, and most items are used together to get any number of results. Figuring out what you can pick up and what is just something from the background is the real challenge, but it is lessened thanks to the hint system, which activates quicker depending on the difficulty chosen. There are four difficulties to choose from, making this title one for new players and veterans alike.
Another tool at your disposal is the journal, incredibly useful for when you stopped playing for a while and you don’t quite remember what you were doing. There are also links to the game’s guides online, for when you are really stuck and the hints don’t seem to work.
As for the puzzles themselves, they can get quite tricky and not one is like another. If you get particularly stuck in any of them, you can simply press the skip button to move on and get the item you need. While not a particularly engaging feature, it does help when you just want to push the story forward. There is also the staple of the hidden object genre: the lists of objects. On these screens, you have to search for a specific number of items, and you will only keep one at the end. Sometimes you use items like scissors to open bags and find hidden items; this does not mean you keep the scissors, they are just a momentary tool. Keep an eye on these areas since you will normally look for items in them more than once.
Yuletide Legends: Who Framed Santa Claus is a great detective story with a deep root in Christmas themes. Its main point of originality is the removal of the mystic element from Santa; while still a deeply magical character, he is another citizen of this land and everyone agrees that he exists. This allows the story to explore other areas of the character, and you should play it for yourself to know the hidden truths about him.