The Ghost Archives: Haunting of Shady Valley is the latest HOA game to come to your iPad courtesy of G5 Entertainment. While the game does nothing to distinguish itself from its vast library of competition it does offer up a reasonable amount of thrills and chills while providing the player with ample puzzle opportunities and even a respectable story.
This time you play an investigator for S.O.U.L. (Spiritual Organization for Unsettle Lives) exploring the abandoned mining town, Shady Valley where…you guessed it…PEOPLE ARE MISSING. You actually see this people go missing in the opening movie where they are scrubbed from an old photograph Back to the Future style. It seems these now-dead villagers are cursed to haunt Shady Valley until you can right some wrongs and unravel the dirty secret that is keeping their lost souls earthbound.
The Ghost Archives offers up one of the more challenging adventure games to come out of G5 this year. Not only are the hidden object scenes loaded with objects hidden by other objects, the variety of mini-games and puzzles can get quite difficult at times. As always you can choose between Casual and Expert modes which determine the availability and frequency of hints and glimmer clues. I not only enjoyed the refreshing variety of mini-games but also the fact that they were actually integrated into the theme of the game and the environments and not some random puzzle to simply be solved to take up time.
Your exploration of Shady Valley will take some time with more than 100 locations and 20 mini-games spread across the five-chapter story as well as locating pieces of a secret map. The overall presentation is fairly standard with the routine diary, hint system, and inventory bar. The graphics are exceptionally good with the optional hotspot buttons to show valid exit points and some nice bits of animation to liven up the otherwise static screens. There is a great mix of chilling music and realistic sound effects for specific actions as well as ambient wind, crickets, etc. Sadly, there is no spoken dialogue, and while I don’t mind a bit of reading, the lack of voice overs really makes the game feel a bit cheap considering nearly every other game does have them. And if you are going to make me read, at least proofread your text. There are numerous typos in the game and not just in the dialogue but also in the simple word clues for the hidden objects.
I had a really good time with The Ghost Archives: Haunting of Shady Valley. There were a few genuine scares and an overall sense of tension and suspense, mostly due to the subtle use of music and sound effects. The story was pretty cool and despite the overused supernatural element of ghosts and spirits I enjoyed the old mining town setting. If you are craving your next HOA fix for the spring season then The Ghost Archives should scratch that itch until the next G5 adventure arrives.