Jane Austen’s Rogues & Romance review

Jane Austen’s Rogues & Romance is a collaboration between the BBC, publisher 6waves and developer Legacy Games. The title, now available on Facebook, is a hidden object game based very loosely on the works of Jane Austen. Players must track down Elizabeth and Mr Darcy who have escaped from the pages of Pride and Prejudice into Austen’s other works.

Nonsensical concept aside, Rogues & Romance is a relatively conventional hidden object game, albeit one with a few twists on the usual Gardens of Time/Hidden Chronicles template that most titles in this genre tend to follow. Players work their way through the game’s plot by completing quests that appear at the side of the screen. These typically fall into one of two categories — completing a specific hidden object scene with a certain score or “mastery” level, or decorating the player’s mansion in a specific manner.

The hidden object scenes are where the game is at its most conventional. Unlike 6waves’ other recent hidden object title Rooms of Memory, which actually shook up the traditional gameplay of the genre significantly, in Rogues & Romance players are doing the same old thing as always: finding objects as fast as possible, preferably in rapid succession to fill up a “combo” bonus. Objects are in the same place each time, so getting a high score is simply a case of playing the level a few times to memorize all the objects’ locations rather than actually demonstrating any real investigative skill. A slight twist on the usual formula is presented by the addition of “bounty” objects — objects which are highlighted in green on the list at the bottom of the screen and provide a bonus if found while highlighted — but this is not really enough to distinguish the game from its numerous imitators.

Where the game does differ a little more is in the “manor” scenes. Rather than taking the isometric “citybuilder”-style aesthetic of most hidden object titles on Facebook, Rogues & Romance puts players in a side-on view of their various rooms and allows them to place objects freely, cashflow permitting. While this does lead to the rather silly possibility of mounting chairs on the wall or having other items simply floating in the air, it does at least allow the player to feel they have a sense of “ownership” over their own manor, particularly as game progress unlocks additional rooms. Unfortunately, there’s not really anything to do in the manor besides make it look pretty (and that possibility isn’t even available when visiting a friend’s house) but it’s a nice touch.

The game also features an asynchronous multiplayer mode whereby players can challenge one another to find as many objects as possible in a short time on a set scene. Players may challenge their opponent with either “Pride” or “Prejudice” — in the former case, rewards will be shared between players, while in the latter case, they will be kept by the winning player. Both players get the option to choose Pride or Prejudice, meaning one generous player can easily be duped out of rewards by an unscrupulous opponent — but that’s sort of the point.

The game is a bit buggy and lacking in features at the moment. When returning from a friend’s manor, for example, the friend’s name remains at the top of the screen. Neighbor and challenge invites seem to be somewhat hit and miss, with players not showing up in each others’ friends lists even after accepting requests several times. Players do not yet have the ability to customize their avatars. And potentially one of the most interesting features — the ability for players to “court” one another and host special events — is not yet implemented.