Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti
Another casual game that tries its hand at blending genres, Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti takes two popular game types to ancient Egypt for a fascinating puzzle-adventure experience. The game's main tricks are spot-the-difference scenes along with a few simple hidden object excursions. You'll also unlock minigames and solve adventure-style puzzles using artifacts you find and assemble in dusty old tombs. It's a relatively easy game, making it accessible to a wide range of players, but the real hook is the deliciously mysterious Egyptian setting based on the real-life mystery of Queen Nefertiti's burial.
To start things off: Nefertiti. The ancient Egyptian queen was immortalized in texts, statues and busts only to mysteriously vanish from the records decades later. There are a number of theories on the cause of her death, but the truth remains unknown. Also unknown is the location of her body, which is where Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti steps in. The game begins with protagonist Anna receiving a letter from her brother who has run into some serious trouble while searching for Nefertiti's tomb. He warns that if she doesn't hear from him again in two weeks, something has gone wrong. Three weeks pass with no news, so Anna boards a plain and heads to Cairo to begin her search. But she just can't shake the feeling that someone is following her every step of the way...
Curse of the Pharaoh is divided into a series of worlds, each taking place in a different location within Egypt. Worlds are further divided into a handful of individual locations containing ten differences you must spot between the two pictures. Each room has a special item you must also find along with a "locked" spot where an item from another room must be placed. You can move about the rooms in a world freely, allowing you to find objects and return to areas to place them at your leisure. Also watch for coins hidden in each room, used to purchase game-enhancing items and minigames in the store.
After placing secret items and finding all ten differences in each stage you unlock the special hidden object puzzle of the world, tasking you with locating a set of items identified by their shadows at the bottom of the screen. You'll also gather pieces of a pharaoh's mask in these stages to unlock the final level. Mask in hand, enter the temple to assemble/place the items to solve the puzzle and continue your journey.
Analysis: A relatively short and easy game, Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti compensates with carefully designed levels, gorgeous visual design, and an atmosphere so steeped in legend you can almost smell the tomb dust in the air. Two levels of difficulty up the challenge a bit, but the main draw is the atmosphere and sense of distilled fun you feel when poking around temples in Egypt.
One feature I feel is sadly underutilized is the in-game store. Coins you find in the spot-the-difference puzzles can be used here to buy minigames and a few items that affect how you play the game. For example, if you click too many times at random on the screen, the lights go out and you must search for differences with a flashlight. The store allows you to buy a bigger light, which helps considerably when you get click-happy. Beyond one or two useful items, however, the store goes largely unused. With a full inventory of items to buy, it would be a fun (and rather exciting) addition to the game.
Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti keeps things simple with casual gaming puzzles we know and love. The Egyptian theme does wonders for the title and ends up being the chief draw to the game. What it lacks in originality, Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti makes up for in atmosphere and unbridled fun.