Tiny Tales: Heart of the Forest is a Hidden Object style game developed by Brave Giant. In it, you will explore the hidden enchanted lands of the forest, where tiny people dwell.
The setting of the game oozes originality. It takes place in a forest filled with humanized small critters like rats and beavers. They coexist with regular animals and even use them as mount, and among all of these animals are very small humans, one of them is the protagonist. The kingdom of the forest is being ruled by a greedy and cruel rat that wishes to take down the trees to expand his rule. Our protagonist, in contrast, is a humble young man living with his parents, who own a small shop. Yet even within this simple background lie secrets, because this family comes from a magical background, allowing our protagonist to cast all kinds of spells whenever the story needs it. This makes the game more rewarding in regards to exploration.
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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 laptop games of this genre, Tiny Tales 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. On that menu is also the spellbook that our character carries around, which is a puzzle on its own and also a way to unlock other puzzles. When creating a spell, you first need to find the recipe along with any runes you will need. The final ingredient is one of four potions you have at your disposal from the very beginning. Once you make the correct combination of runes and apply the potion, you will have the spell unlocked. However, it isn’t as simple as point and click to use it; they usually require another puzzle to cast, especially if it is a combat spell. All of the spell casting mechanics make for a more immersive world since you aren’t only collecting tools for a specific use and then moving on; you are always relying on your spellbook and looking for runes. The game feels more consistent this way.
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. Keep an eye on these areas since you will normally look for items in them more than once.
Tiny Tales: Heart of the Forest is an enchanting adventure for all ages, where the characters might be small but the adventure quite big. If you like medieval fantasy with a tiny twist, do not let this one pass you up.