twisted lands insomniac

Twisted Lands: Insomniac Download is a hidden object game developed by Alawar Stargaze. A direct sequel to Twisted Lands: Shadow Town, this new story is told through the eyes of Angel, the wife of the first game's protagonist. She wakes up to find herself trapped inside a mental hospital, in the apparent care of a doctor who has lined her up for a lobotomy. Intent to escape her fate, Angel travels between reality and a chilling dream world where she reveals what really happened to the island's inhabitants.

This sequel brings more of Twisted Lands' surreal approach to story delivery dosed with occasional moments of shock. If you tend to get spooked or are not too keen on getting surprised, you might want to be a little wary when playing this game. That said, if you are the type who gets thrills out of chills, then this is a game you cannot afford to pass up on.

Download for Windows

Navigating the Madness

twisted lands insomniac: Navigating the Madness

From the get-go, the game introduces players to a classic point and click affair. For the most part, time is spent collecting objects and figuring out which bits and bobs go together. Expect a significant amount of backtracking as components for puzzles are not necessarily found in its immediate area. Anyone playing the game on casual mode should know that the Hint button -which should be renamed "Find"; gets rid of all the guesswork. Using this tool points you exactly to where you have to go. For those who are looking for a quick fix, this minimizes the frustration, but the downside is that it almost eliminates most of the game's challenges completely.

There were select times where a bit of trial and error will help in identifying the correct tool to use. An example of this was at the part where the protagonist, Angel, has to smash a window. From all the items that one can choose from, it was the flat iron that did the job. Not exactly an intuitive choice, but anyone who has had a bit of experience with hidden object games would recognize the pattern.

Survival of the Clever

On the other hand, puzzles and mini games are quite plentiful, ranging from a simple "what goes next" sequence to the more complicated pattern rotation puzzles. A skip button will become available after a certain amount of time passes without the puzzle being solved. While this is extremely useful, the bar refills slowly, so players are still encouraged to discover the solutions on their own.

Every now and then, the "hidden objects" segment comes into play. And for those who are not familiar, a list of items is supplied, requiring a thorough search of the current screen. Accomplishing that rewards you with a tool to push the story forward. This makes full use of the highly detailed visuals, so expect to be doing a lot of squinting especially when you want to seek out an easily obscured item.

Without using the Hint button, it is fun to go through these challenges since the objects are cleverly hidden. For instance, "Chestnut" may refer to a drawing on the wall and "Bow" refers to a ribbon tied to a curtain.

Spellbinding Delivery

Insomniac's graphics are a sight to behold. The backgrounds are classy and are an asset to setting the mood. The menus as well as the icons are polished and all elements blend together in harmony. Even the occasional ghost kids fit the setting to a tee. However, the CG cut scenes could have been tweaked a little in order to fit the voice acting.

The audio is spooky but relaxing. The good part is that it is not cheesy, which is almost standard fare for psychological horror tales. The bad part is that there is not much variety in the music. It would have been great if they added a contrast of nerve-inducing music amidst the game's calming tunes.

The real gem in the Twisted Lands Downloadable series is the game's unique story telling. Players should take the time to read journals and try to enjoy the thoughtfully placed details. Insomniac does a good job filling in the missing parts of its predecessor although the ending is quite abrupt, possibly suggesting that a third game is in the works. In terms of delivery, we cannot help but feel that this game is truly pushing the envelope for the medium, and this is something that many other hidden object games should try to emulate.

As a Collector's Edition, the game provides players with an extra chapter unveiling the back story of the outbreak, concept art sketches, a music gallery, as well as an in-game strategy guide.

The Good and the Bad

Twisted Lands: Insomniac Download has all the elements which make a game enjoyable. It has excellent graphics, an appropriate soundtrack, solid story-telling and balanced game play which leave you room to have fun. Puzzles are across the board, which give a healthy amount of challenge for casual players. Even with the ending cut short, it leaves you wanting more.

However, it is by no means perfect. The occasional puzzle bug or typo such as erroneous dates (the year 2010 instead of 1920) and a few counter-intuitive tool choices could have been easy to polish. The Hint system is readily available so it could be a negative for veterans who want to be set apart from hint-compulsive players.

Overall, the sequel to Shadow Town is a must-play for hidden object players who appreciate spooky, quirky storylines and are looking for an intermediate-level challenge. It may be recommended to puzzle game fans as well due to the variety of well-made puzzle segments present in the game. Those who are particular about graphics need not worry due to the artful presentation of Insomniac's world. However, the Twisted Lands 2 is short. It may be completed in 5 hours (or 4 hours sans the bonus content so those looking for a long journey may want to take a rain check) which is relatively short for a title with such a compelling narrative.

Download for Windows