Hope Lake is a Mystery/Hidden Object game developed by Far Mills and Mysterytag. In it, you take the role of Kelly Wells, a private detective tasked with finding a missing girl, the latest of a series of mysterious kidnappings.
The roots of this mystery goes a long way back to the drowning of a teacher decades ago...how connected are these cases? Can you get to the root of it all in one of the best detective games?
The presentation of the game is really something else, and it screams its purpose: take me seriously. This is now a happy adventure where you try to find your family’s lost heirloom; this is a crime investigation, and you are going into the depths of it.
The title screen alone makes a good show of this: A woman, not looking too healthy, is tied to a boat, your mission being clearly to rescue her. The color palette is greyish and dark, the mood on the low side. That being said, this is one of the most animated Hidden Object games you can find, since when you press play you are treated to an intro cutscene, including a 3D animation depicting the kidnapping.
Most of the game is rendered in 2D, but these scenes of three dimensions are in plenty pivotal scenes, making one really invested in the plot. The art direction is simply amazing and it carries through the game from beginning to end.
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The gameplay is not too complicated, especially if you played a Hidden Object game before. Much like the point and click adventure games of old, you go from screen to screen searching for useful items to unlock new areas and solve puzzles.
Some items are simply keys to a puzzle, others are required to even start it. What you will be doing most frequently as a minigame is trying to find all the objects in a list, and your reward is something useful for your quest. But there are other kinds of brain teasers for you to enjoy, all rather varied.
The game also cuts down on a lot of dead time, as to not detract from the experience of the game. For example, if you open the map you can fast travel to any unlocked areas in the game, so if you found the key to a cage that is ten screens away, you don’t actually have to go there manually if you don’t want to.
The game also simplifies puzzles where you need to input codes. When you find a specific code for a place, when you go to that place there is a little piece of paper that tells you the code that goes there. It is easy to assume that Kelly pasted the code there, and it makes us not have to memorize or write anything down.
Since this is a mostly grounded game, the puzzles tend to have logical solutions. In other games you might be in some otherworldly area that requires leaps in logic; this is not such a game.
While there are some odd puzzles and solutions (such is the nature of detective games), they all make sense and are easy to follow in the logic of this world. However, if you ever get stuck you can trust the hint system the game has, and most puzzles can be skipped entirely.
While you should play the whole experience, you shouldn’t get frustrated on a specific puzzle and not enjoy the story to its fullest.
With its twists and turns, Hope Lake will probably compel you to play the whole thing in one sitting, since this game is a fun mystery adventure that will hook you in from the first cutscene to the very end.
If you enjoy these free games, you will love this list of our 10 Best Hidden Object Detective Games!