Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena Review

‘Find the hidden object’ isn’t exactly the gameplay mechanic developers have been pursuing in past years. The idea of finding items in a bustling landscape is usually reserved for gameboxes in pubs and ‘Where’s Wally’ books.

The scenery is always beautiful to look at

With this in mind, the big question about ‘Samantha Swift’ is… why? Why did MumboJumbo believe they could break the mould and step out of line? The other question is how did they manage to (nearly) pull it off?

On paper, this game should just not work. You follow Samantha’s journey around the world in search of the Roses of Athenna which, if collected together, will apparently give the holder ultimate power. Of course, Sam is ‘the good guy’, so she just wants to collect them and let them rot in a museum, while the baddie, whose evil grin you’ll bump into now and again, wants to use the power for his own evil bidding.

Cutscenes are nice, if lacking

Along the way, Sam has a list of items she must find in each area and she can’t progress further unless she finds them. The items are scattered around each beautifully animated area, some in blantantly obvious places, others hidden. A couple of the items you collect must then be used to move sand, crack boulders and secure pathways in order to collect even more iteams.

Sounds pretty simple. Well yes, most of the time. Unfortunately, there are a few issues. Sometimes clicking an item will not work because the game wants you to click in a certain place to collect it, which can be highly irritating. Also clicking too many times in the wrong places causes your ‘item scanner’ to break so that for the next 20 seconds you have no idea what the items you are searching for look like. Clearly this isn’t that big a deal when the item is ‘a wheel’ or ‘a plank’, but it’s annoying all the same.

Now and again you’ll be asked to solve a simple puzzle or two

And then there’s the most aggravating issue. The items you are searching for are displayed at the bottom of the screen – however sometimes there is not enough space to show all of them and when this is the case, items will not become ‘active’ until you have found objects on the list to clear space for more. This means that there can be shovels, coins, pickaxes and the like lying in REALLY obvious places on the screen, yet when you click them… nothing happens. And then the game forces you to find other things before you are able to collect these. It’s beyond crazy.

Mixed in with this random screen clicking, many of the areas feature puzzles. You will have seen every puzzle at some point in your internet-trawling life – the majority are common flash-game clones. There’s nothing that will give you too hard
a time.

It might be nice to look at, but the gameplay is a different story

So, in a nutshell, the item collecting is long and tedious and the puzles are mediocre. And yet… there is a charm to this game. It is something undescribable. You will begin your quest thinking this is the most ridiculous idea for a game you have ever seen and leave the experience at least partially satisfied. Maybe it’s the attention to detail in each scene. Maybe you just slowly become accustommed to the task at hand. But there is just something that saves this game from being the trainwreck that is sounds like it should be.

Clocking in at under three hours of play and with no replay value whatsoever, it sounds like you’d be crazy to even consider giving Samantha Swift a go. Yet there is something magical about the game that makes the $10 asking price not so ridiculous. There’s definitely worse things on Steam to waste your money on.

7.0 Presentation
Menus are nicely layout and everything is where you would expect, but there’s not exactly anything special
8.0 Graphics
Some beautiful scenes and landscapes – you can see a lot of effort has been put in. Cutscenes could have had a little more work.
6.0 Sound
Run of the mill sound effects with run of the mill sound accompaniment. Nothing great.
4.0 Gameplay
There hasn’t been a game like this in a while for good reason. It’s essentially ‘Where’s Wally’ in game form.
3.0 Lasting Appeal
2-3 hours to complete the game and absolutely no replay value whatsoever.
(out of 10 / not an average)