Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart is nominally a hidden-object/puzzle game, but so far it’s quite a bit deeper than the standard hidden-object game, especially on the iPhone platform. This plays more like something you’d expect on a PC — not a phone.
The game begins with an opening cinematic. You can skip it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s the 18th century, and we’re learning about the terrifying pirate, Captain Remington, who was said to have made a pact with the devil, at least until the authorities caught up with him.
Giving us just enough story to set the hook, we then go to the normal opening screen. It’s time to name your save slot and check out your options. On the main screen you’ll see Play, Options, More Info, Achievements and Extras. Briefly, here’s what you’ll find if you poke around.
Options lets you set the music and sound volume. There’s also a left-hand mode, which I have never seen in a game of this kind before. I’m not left-handed, so I didn’t check it out. You can decide whether you want the voiceovers on or off. I left them on for now. They aren’t half bad, but it’s up to you. You also can change from Normal to Expert mode. In Expert mode, you’ll get penalized for sloppy tapping in the hidden-object scenes and your Hint and Skip options will take longer to recharge. It won’t highlight areas where you have something to do and the map will not give you extra info — like showing when an area has additional things you can do.
The More Info section is actually worth a look in this game. There’s the usual credits and tell a friend stuff, but there’s also a Help section with a nicely illustrated tutorial. There’s a strategy guide that includes general information, as well as a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, and info for the bonus adventure, once you’ve unlocked it. The Achievements section lists the usual “atta-boys” you can earn for the game, and also gives you a chance to share your accolades on Facebook.
The Extras section has the bonus adventure, once you’ve unlocked it, but also options to let you replay the hidden-object scenes, replay the minigames, look at concept art, and watch videos from the game. You definitely don’t see these extras in your average iPhone game.
Once you’ve poked through this area, and made any setting changes you want, you jump right back into the story cinematic. You find that 300 years have passed and you’re the curator of a museum that’s about to do an exhibit on Captain Remington — mainly because some fool that’s never seen a horror movie decided to recover his remains from the deep.
The game will begin in tutorial mode. You have the option to turn it off at any time. If you’ve played a lot of these kinds of games before, you probably don’t need the tutorial. If you’re new to this genre, I wouldn’t skip it.
So far I’ve found the hidden-object puzzles a bit more complicated than usual — which to me is a good thing. There’s one puzzle where you have to find a lit candle. It will take you seven steps before that lit candle can be yours.
While it’s true that you will be penalized for random tapping in Expert mode, things you need to tap that aren’t on the list should be easy to figure out. Remove cloth coverings, open doors or drawers — that kind of thing.
Something completely unique that I’ve seen with Nightmares from the Deep is that you can choose to play Mahjong instead of doing the hidden-object scene. I like both, so it was a nice change of pace getting to play a fairly straightforward pirate-themed game of Mahjong.
If you like a reasonably challenging hidden-object/puzzle game with a solid story behind it, you won’t go wrong getting Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart. The music and sound effects are decent. The graphics are really good, to the point of creepiness in some instances, and the story is engaging. Enjoy!