Relic Quest review

Relic Quest is a new Facebook game from iWin. It’s currently featured on the front page of Facebook’s App Center, which is likely helping bring it some traffic.

Relic Quest

Relic Quest is a fairly traditional hidden object game with a strong focus on narrative. Players are cast as themselves in the story, and in a nice touch each of the story’s “episodes” is introduced with a splash screen proudly announcing “[user’s name] and the [adventure name],” bringing to mind popular character-led stories such as the Indiana Jones, Nancy Drew and Harry Potter series.

Each quest in the game is introduced through a conversation between the player and the various characters involved, each of whom are well-drawn, non-animated images. The player is often given a choice as to what they would like to say in these scenes, evoking feelings of old-school point-and-click adventure games, but in practice the response to the player’s utterances is usually the same regardless of what they choose. Once the conversations are finished with, the player must complete the quest’s objectives to progress in the story and earn various rewards.

Quests generally fall into one of two different categories: building and hunting for hidden objects. The building quests require that the player either place and complete a specific item in their museum or raise their museum’s “rating” value high enough to unlock the next hidden object scene. Hidden object scenes, on the other hand, either require that the player locate a specific object or objects in a specific scene, or sometimes simply that they replay a scene enough times to attain a particular “mastery” level.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 10.24.43 AMThe hidden object scenes are fairly traditional for the most part, with a couple of exceptions. For starters, as well as locating the usual laundry list of completely irrelevant items, the player is often tasked with finding “plot” items that do have direct relevance to the story. Secondly, each scene houses three coins and three toolboxes which are not on the main list of items, but which do score the player additional points if located. Finding coins adds to the player’s stock of soft currency, while finding toolboxes allows them to collect various materials that are sometimes required to construct items in the museum. Various parts of each hidden object scene are randomized — while the main, non-plot items are always in the same place, the exact selection the player is required to find in a single session is picked at random; meanwhile, the location of toolboxes, coins and plot items (if present) are all randomized between a number of different possible locations in each session. All the objects blend well into the background, so it is not always obvious when these items have moved from the last playthrough.

Social features for the game include a friends leaderboard for each hidden object scene and the usual ability to visit and share gifts with friends. Various accomplishments can also be shared on the user’s Timeline, with the usual rewards on offer for those who click these posts to try the game for themselves. Besides these features, however, Relic Quest is a largely solitary experience.

The game monetizes through sales of its hard currency Cash, which is primarily used to bypass countdown timers and restore energy, but which can also be expended on purchasing premium hidden object scenes and premium objects for the museum that add a huge amount to the “value” rating and consequently unlock new scenes more quickly. There is no option to purchase unlimited energy either temporarily or permanently, which is disappointing; an energy system is a particularly obtrusive method of play throttling that steadfastly refuses to go away (particularly in the hidden object genre) — though a number of games recently have been experimenting with “subscription” options to allow players to bypass the inconvenience of this mechanic. Relic Quest does not offer this facility.