Mobile Game Review: Mystery of the Opera

 mystery-of-the-opera-titlePublished by: G5 Games
Available for: iOS
Reviews on: iPad
Genre: Puzzle/Adventure
Released: Nov. 7, 2013

Mystery of the Opera is your basic iPad equivalent of a point-and-click adventure game.  Like other games of this genre, the mechanics are relatively easy to program which makes them ideal templates for startup developers.  But just because the system is technically easier doesn’t mean that it is easy to make a good game.  Games are still art (regardless of what Rodger Ebert said – RIP), and a limitation in one area just demands more expression elsewhere.

Sadly, Mystery of the Opera (MotO) doesn’t seem to share the same philosophy.  The developers seem more interested in an experiment of how quickly they can throw together these copy-and-paste games.  The real shame is that it doesn’t have to be this way.  I just reviewed a similar game by g5 called Temptation, which has nearly identical mechanics but much better delivery.

mystery-of-the-opera-2Right from the title the game shows little shame about being a thinly veiled rip-off of The Phantom of the Opera, only written by people who knew nothing about The Phantom of the Opera beyond the fact that is involved a guy in a mask kidnapping a girl at the opera.  Now, as a literature buff, that irks me enough as it is, but I can forgive it.  What I can’t forgive is grammar that is consistently poor and occasionally flat-out incorrect.  In this genre more than any other the story is what will set a game apart for better or worse, and trying to tell that story with broken sentence structure is inexcusable.

Some of the other issues are more personal taste than objective mistakes, but they are worth noting.   For one, while a game like this is supposed to have backtracking, there are better and worse ways to do it.  A well balanced amount of backtracking will have the player moving around and exploring the map thoroughly with occasional returns to a spot long since passed but finally made relevant.  A poorly balanced amount of backtracking will have players running back and forth from one extreme end to the other with no objectives in between.  The puzzles in MotO were surprisingly difficult, which I personally like as a puzzle fan, but the challenge seems out of place in the otherwise easy (if tedious) game.  Finally, MotO falls into the same classic trap as many games in the genre fall prey to: redundant items.  I know that making me collect a bunch of different items is pretty much the bulk of the game, but why do I have to go find a letter opener to cut open a chair cushion when I’m already carrying a dagger?  It’s just sloppy storytelling.

Gameplay: 4/10 – It is never easy to rate a point-and-click game’s gameplay, since the architecture of the game is so relatively simple.  But the poorly written text, overabundance of backtracking, and inconsistent difficulty level all do serious damage to the gameplay experience.

mystery-of-the-opera-3Graphics: 5/10 – I went in to MotO without very high expectations for the graphics, and I got what I was prepared for.  The visuals aren’t eyesores, but they certainly don’t do much to impress.  As such I gave them a dead-average at 5.

Sound: 5.5/10 – Pretty much the same deal here as the graphics.  I gave the sound an extra +2 above average because I can always just turn the sound off and play without it.  Then I took off 1.5 because of how often I had to turn the sound off to get over the annoying music.

Overall: 5/10 – Mystery of the Opera would have been an impressive game 20 years ago when any functional game with characters and graphics was an accomplishment.  But these days there’s no excuse for putting together such a sloppy piece of code, especially considering the fact that many g5 games seem to be constructed from the same engine.  It’s like ‘ve been saying throughout this review– a limited system is not an excuse for a poor game.

You can see a preview game trailer below.

Review code for this game provided by G5 Entertainment.


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