Indie Quickie: May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? A puzzle-solving adventure game about a young girl’s journey to find her missing brother after a hot air balloon ride gone wrong.

Who made it and where can you get it? Developed by V5 Play Studio, May’s Mysteries originally dates back to 2012 (and before that on Nintendo DS), but within the past week the game has finally made its way onto Steam from publisher Mastertronic. It’s currently available for Windows PC for $9.99.

How much did we play? It took me a few hours to solve 41 of the more than 270 puzzles included in the game.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements or other details you should know about? Unfortunately the game doesn’t offer any scalable resolution settings. Full screen and windowed views are the only choices, and when played in full screen the visuals look a bit fuzzy. Windowed view is fine, but for certain puzzles the smaller screen size does make seeing certain things a bit harder on the eyes.

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Why should you play it?

    Puzzles. This game has lots and lots of puzzles. Hidden object and hidden picture puzzles. Sliding tile puzzles. Mouse clicking rhythm mini-games. And, of course, brain twisting riddles. May’s Mysteries is a game that puts your problem solving logic through the ringer to, for example, arrange two wooden planks so that they will support someone so they can cross a body of water, pour water back and forth between three jars of different sizes to distribute the liquid evenly, or determine how many total games are played in a full season of a football league if there are 20 teams and each team plays every other team two times.

    The volume and variety of puzzles is great, as there are more than a dozen different puzzle categories. (A tutorial is provided the first time you attempt a puzzle in each category, which is a nice touch.) The whole puzzle-solving setup is given structure by a streamlined point-and-click adventure interface in which you navigate through the game world by clicking on arrows placed at transition points to travel from one largely static location on the map to the next. Each scene typically contains an NPC to chat with via a quick click of the mouse, and these cute, colorful and often oddball citizens of Dragonville always have some great conundrum they need help with. Lending them your brain to reach a correct solution to their problem progresses the story and opens travel to new areas of the map. Most dialogue is text based, but occasional voice acted cutscenes allow the characters’ personalities to shine through a bit more.

    May’s Mysteries is clearly slanted toward a younger audience with its cartoon visuals and storytelling innocence, but the puzzle difficulty is balanced well enough that the game should appeal to players of all ages. So far the hidden object puzzles have been cake compared to other, dedicated hidden object games, but most of the main logic puzzles and riddles have made my adult brain have to stop and think, and more than a few have stumped me cold. For such moments of total cerebral meltdown, the game offers a helpful hint system. After reaching certain moments in the story puzzle progression, a new selection of bonus puzzles becomes unlocked to play at any time. Although completely optional, completing bonus puzzles rewards hint points. These points can then be used to purchase clues (each puzzle has two possible hints) for a minimal price, or you can pay a premium to outright skip a puzzle that you just can’t crack. Sure, this hint system is open to potential exploitation–if you wanted to you could solve all the bonus puzzles as they are unlocked and then use the points to quickly skip through any story puzzle that gives you even the slightest bit of trouble. But if that’s a tactic you would consider using, what would be the purpose in even playing a logic puzzle game in the first place?

Parting Thoughts: Clearly May’s Mysteries was inspired by the Professor Layton series, so if you enjoy the puzzle solving exploits of Level-5’s gentlemanly archaeologist chances are high that you’ll have fun flexing your head muscle on the journey to uncover The Secret of Dragonville. Although there isn’t an actual cooperative multiplayer mode like the similarly quaint puzzle adventure Blue Toad Murder Files, I think this is the type of game siblings or children and their parents will especially have fun playing together. As the old saying goes, sometimes two heads are better than one. But there is certainly enough here to keep one brain busy for hours on end.

Disclosure: A free Steam key for May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!