Art wise, the game tries to be grounded in realism. The color palette is mostly opaque, and situations tend to occur at night. The design of the characters aims for realism, and while they are mostly static illustrations they still depict the context the game is set in. There are plenty of distinct characters for you to interact with that really flesh out the game world.
The different scene’s backgrounds are also aiming for realism, but with the sheer volume of items that they have to have on display, it is understandable that certain objects might be a little out there. However, they all play with the line of what is actually possible to appear in someone’s backyard, and it makes immersion possible.
Story wise, the game can be taken more like a detective thriller than a simple adventure, adding to everything that the information you are working with as you start the tale is incredibly limited. You are, as stated before, a French nobleman of not much renown, who was minding his own business while walking home late at night.
A strange hooded figure follows you closely, until you are ambushed and knocked unconscious. Next thing you know, you awake in a tavern with no recollection of how you got there, and one of your sleeves is torn to shreds. As you inspect it, you see a strange mark has been burned into your flesh; a cross, not unlike a religious one.
As you vow to get revenge on whoever did this to you, the game simply starts and you have to make do with what you have. The only lead you have is the tavern owner, who might reluctantly give out what he knows for proper pay for his services.
If you manage to squeeze any information from him, you will learn small clues as to the identity of whoever took you to the tavern. Was that person your savior, or your captor? Did they do the mark on your arm, and if so why? Searching for the answers will certainly lead you to more and more questions.
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Gameplay wise, this follows the basic gist of the genre. The areas are divided into sections, and each one has plenty of objects to collect, and plenty more that need to be unlocked. You do this by getting the right object for the job, or solving a puzzle to get it.
Sometimes you have to do both. You keep trying to match the object with the interactable area until you unlock a new section. Some objects can be combined with others, while other objects need a set amount before they can be used. The puzzles you need to solve are very varied and challenging, and if you get too stuck you can wait for the skip button to charge so you can move on with the story.
The hint button, on the other hand, has a very unique style to it. You start with three charges and they do not recharge, instead on each map you will be periodically attacked by bandits. Click on them quickly enough, and you will gain one hint point. This means that you can accumulate a ton of these points and use them on particularly challenging sections, so saving them up is always an option.
One of the recurring puzzles is the list, where you are given a list of items to find in a very cluttered scene. You just need to click the item listed on the list, yet some of them might require more interactions, like opening a drawer.
Your reward is a single item to use elsewhere. Sometimes, especially as the story progresses, these areas can be revisited to gain other useful items, so keep in mind where you found them.
Golden Trails 3 is an intriguing tale all throughout, feeding very small drops of information on each stage and making you hungry for more. It is certainly a title that demands to be completed in a single sitting, and you will be all the more rewarded for it.
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