Review: Forest Legends: The Call of Love

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Tales of star crossed lovers are nothing new. We all know about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Guinevere romanced Lancelot behind King Arthur’s back. Star Wars has Padme and Anakin. In the realm of modern vampires and other such nasties, there is Buffy and Angel. Romances between Cloud and Aeris, as well as Tidus and Yuna have been at the heart of Final Fantasy‘s greatest love stories.

Now, on a smaller scale, we have Forest Legends: The Call of Love from Alwar Entertainment, a fantasy based hidden object adventure of love for PS3.

Following the notion of forbidden love, Forest Legends tells the story of a magical race known as the Felizes, werecats that can change at will into humans, and their once equal coexistence with humans. Fear and jealously eventually set humans against the Felizes, causing them to wage war and attempt to eradicate a previously peaceful way of life. The story begins as a young woman named Eveline meets with her Felize lover, Aurelio, but is caught by her father, the head of the kingdom’s hunters charged with destroying all Felizes (and anything else magical). Aurelio escapes into the Forbidden Forest wounded and Eveline must collect items and solve puzzles in order to find and help her love.

I’m of two minds when it comes to puzzle adventures. First off, I love when a challenge is presented in a three-dimensional space and the solution is practically in your face the entire time, and it simply needs a bit of reasoning and environmental manipulation to solve. Visual based puzzles can also be a lot of fun. Matching like items from memory, or using a pattern from one part of the game on a puzzle in another is right in my wheelhouse. But a puzzle that requires five or more logical steps of planning before actually making the first move is a leap my brain just can’t fathom.

Forest Legends offers up every type of puzzle I just mentioned. Puzzle presentation is well paced in the game. For every screen, there is usually at least two objects that can be interacted with. These objects may be items that are stored in your inventory for use with another puzzle some place else or they are stored for use in potion making. Progression in the story is made when all of the ingredients to a particular potion are collected. Once they are obtained, a repetitive (but skippable) cut scene plays out where ingredients are chopped or ground up and mixed together. It is unfortunate that this sequence is not playable as there have been some fun potion mixing segments in other games (Harry Potter titles come to mind). Central to this experience, I can understand why another mechanic was not introduced, but it just seems silly to put the development time into a cut scene that is just as easily skipped.

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Everything in the game feels like it was made with only a modicum of enthusiasm. Every puzzle can be skipped after a meter fills up. Most of the puzzles don’t require Mensa memberships, but even the challenging ones can be skipped. Skipping a puzzle is understandable from the perspective of paying for a game and wanting to be able to see through to the end, but it also feels like a cop out. Being able to jump past the meat of the game sort of defeats the whole point of playing.

While the fantasy story isn’t as deep as something from Tolkien or Martin, it is a fun and interesting tale in its own right. Including minor nods to real fairy tales, like a subtle reference to Little Red Riding Hood, is a nice way to blend the game world with our own. Another nice touch is how the UI is presented. A world map displays each area that has been travelled to and any location that has a task yet to be completed is signified with a question mark. There is nothing more frustrating than playing through a puzzle adventure game and not being able to figure out which screen holds the key to a puzzle to allow forward progress. 

Even with the map giving a broad indication of what area to go to next, some objects on the screen can still be easy to miss. Fortunately, Eveline has a pet dragon as a hint guide which blows a small fire ring around any object necessary to complete the task. Moving from one side of the map to the next is as simple as moving the cursor over the desired location and pressing X. No need to memorize and wander through screen after screen of forest in order to backtrack to collect an item.

Forest Legends is a fairly enjoyable adventure. While most of the interactions are geared toward the causal gamer, some of the more difficult puzzles (when not skipped) can offer even diehard puzzle fans something to sink their teeth into. The story and settings presented throughout are unique and interesting. It is also worth mentioning that the PS3 version includes a bonus chapter which provides a new perspective on all of the characters. While the puzzle mechanics don’t change, the story told bolsters that of the main adventure and is worth spending the additional time to play through. The only reason to play a second time would be for trophy hunters looking to get 100% on the title.

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Pros:
+ Interesting fantasy love story
+ Easy to use map/menu system
+ Mostly fun puzzles

Cons:
– The presentation at times feels half-hearted
– The option to skip puzzles feels like a cop out

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: 2/18/2014
Genre: Hidden object adventure
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.