Sinister City: Vampire Adventure is a hidden-object/puzzle game. I played the iPhone version. The introduction to the game is a man holding a candelabra telling you that he’s just finished his movie, “Count Dracula’s Treasure” and this is about the young couple, John and Nina. In a slight twist on the usual setup for these games, Nina is the one that’s missing, and you’re playing John. These games are usually, in my experience, aimed at the casual female gamer, so you usually play a female character.
Before you jump into Sinister City, there are a few things you should check out on the main menu. You have the option to set the difficulty level — it’s either easy or advanced. Easy mode has sparkles that give you hints, tells you what you’re supposed to be working on, recharges your hint option faster, and gives you a tutorial as you go along. Advanced mode — yeah, you won’t be getting any of those options.
You will want to take a quick look at the Achievement screen before you get started. Achievements you haven’t earned yet just show the outline of the image. Tap the shadowed image, and it tells you how you earn that achievement. If you want to earn achievements, you need to know what you’re aiming for before you start the game. One achievement, for example, is for getting through Sinister City using no more than three hints. If you know ahead of time, you’ll be more prudent in your choices.
There are both puzzle and hidden-object sections to the game. The puzzle sections are slightly more challenging, but none of the puzzles so far have been particularly hard. Although you will get a list of what you need to find in the hidden-object parts, not only is there no penalty for randomly tapping things — you actually have to randomly tap everything in sight just to move the game forward. There are often things hidden behind other things, and if you don’t tap the thing in front, you’ll have no idea something is behind it. To me, this violates one of the unwritten rules of hidden-object games — precision is rewarded and sloppy tapping around the screen is penalized.
Moving on ... The sounds and music aren’t bad. Some of the weird music on the astral plane section was getting to be a bit much after a while, but overall it’s not bad.
The graphics are decent. Some of the settings have been a little unusual, in a good way, like the clock room on the astral plane. The characters aren’t too cartoony or too perfect. They look like people without crossing that creepy line that makes animated characters look a little too much like people (if you’ve seen “Polar Express,” you know what I mean).
The voice acting is about average for a casual game. The part that bothered me wasn’t so much the voice acting as much as the stilted dialogue. There are more than a few sections in which you have to scratch your head — real people just don’t talk that way. Beyond that, the subtitles don’t always match what the characters are saying. I know that subtitles on TV work that way, too, but it still kind of bugs me.
Overall, Sinister City is not a bad game. If you are new to this style of game, this is probably a decent introduction. You’ll get a feeling for this kind of gameplay and puzzles without the stress of something that would be difficult enough to be frustrating.