Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
GAMEBYTES AND BOTS
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HOG, HOPA
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ALAWAR GAMES: 2012 - 2014
DEVELOPER: Alawar
GENRE: Hogs, Hopas
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

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ALAWAR GAMES: 2012 - 2014
DEVELOPER: Alawar
GENRE: Hogs, Hopas
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

ALAWAR HOPAs
REVIEW: Played Sept 2015
ALAWAR HOPAs
REVIEW: Played Sept 2015

Sometimes I purchase games outside of my favourite genres for the sake of offering a little variety on the site, but going HOG wild for a period was a result of a confluence of various circumstances. One of those was a period of game fatigue when nothing appealed in the genres I normally play and I was also just plain tired of having to apply some sort of fix to every new game I fired up. So I turned to something different and discovered a couple of new genres I ended up liking very much.

For a grand total of two bucks, I received eight games in a charity bundle. Three of those were Alawar Hidden Object Games; House of 1000 Doors: Family Secrets, House of 1000 Doors: Palm of Zoroaster, and Mystery Masters Psycho Train. I was actually going Hog wild at the time after playing a series of Artifex Mundi games and went looking to add to my collection. I think I was a little crazed at the time.

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For those of you that might not know, HOG is short for Hidden Object Game or HOPA, which is short for Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure. These are different from traditional point-and-click games as they are primarily built around puzzle solving and you never see your character except perhaps in a cut-scene. There is no character movement except to one-click into another area, no tedious walking through endless screens of nothingness, and usually no long reams of dialogue to wade through. The hidden object tag comes from the mechanic of being given a list of items to find amongst a screen of all kinds of other objects. Once you have found them all, you will receive one item for your inventory which can be used to solve a different puzzle. The best of the HOGs and HOPAs these days offer a story, great graphics and many other types of puzzles as well. These games also have quick downloads and will save at exactly the point you decide to quit, making them great for short and mostly problem-free gaming sessions.

Starting my temporary Hog obsession with Artifex Mundi set the bar fairly high, but the House series came through and are pretty good in this genre. They feature the same main character, Kate Reed, so I would advise playing them in order. She's also a little more mature and the story has some nice detail. Even the bonus chapters are quite good. Graphics and visuals fall into the good category on the first game and even better on the second. There are two more games in this series, Serpent Flames and Evil Inside. Serpent Flames cannot be bought individually on Steam, but is included in Alawar's House of Snark 6-in-1 bundle, but both but can be had on Big Fish.

Beyond that the games are fairly typical of HOPAs and include a strategy guide, hints, notes, and a map of available options. There is also a nice combination of different types of puzzles, but there is no alternative mini-game to the hog screens.

The two House of 1000 Doors games stack up pretty well with other good Hopas. It's about a house that can
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House of 1000 Doors
Family Secrets
teleport through space and you never know where its going to turn up. Both games have most of the typical elements of this genre with the exception of achievements. The story has a supernatural theme and is fairly detailed for a game of this type and the puzzles are varied. Collectibles come in the form of "hidden beyond" objects. The graphics are not top-notch in this first one, but they are pretty good and the visual environments keep it interesting. The bonus chapter is also good.
Palm of Zoroaster takes place one year later and actually deals more with travelling through doors to other
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House of 1000 Doors
Palm of Zoroaster
planes of existence than the first game does. Kate's quest is to save Gabriel, the house's guardian and thus save all of its permanent inhabitants as well. The more interesting environments make the graphics shine in this one. the only negative observation I had is that I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. However, the game also has a good bonus chapter. All in all, Hog lovers can't go wrong with these two games. The next in the series, Serpent Flames also received high marks, but Evil Inside had negative reviews for not being in tune with House games.
This game is a bit of an oddball and although it was released in a similar time period, it feels older. It's missing most of the bells and whistles typical
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Mystery Masters
Psycho Train
of the genre and is pretty bare bones. There's no map, fast travel, achievements, collectibles, bonus chapter, wallpaper or extras and no widescreen support. The graphics are okay though, and it has a good variety of puzzles, although there are a couple of tile puzzles that are really bad. I wouldn't go out of my way to get it, but if it comes in a bundle and you love hogs, it's worth a run through.

Game Issues Experienced

None

Development Note

Although casual games are Alawar's oldest development line, they develop their own mid-core games as well as publish third-party games such as Beholder and Distrust. The Russian company was founded in 1999 and has developed and published 300 games in the casual genre along with 2 -3 midcore games per year. They also develop for Mac OS X and port many of their games to mobile platforms.

Alawar's internal development team works on projects for Samsung GearVR, Google Daydream, and Cardboard. The first game, Sammy, released in May 2017, made it to the Top 3 of the world's most popular games based on downloads, as well as to the "GearVR Best New Games" list. Their latest release on VR, I Am UFO, is a free-to-play shooter.

Alawar owns one of the largest casual content distribution networks in Russia and along with partner websites have a combined active audience of over 16 million people. In 2015, they began distributing games through Steam as well.

NOTE: For the vast majority of PC games, many digital distributors will offer "Online" CD keys that can be added to your Steam Library
WHERE YOU CAN PURCHASE
ALAWAR GAMES
You can download free trials on Big Fish and Alawar
Other games in series:
GAME SPECS & REQS
  • Genre: Adventure, Hidden Object
  • Developer(s): Alawar
  • Publisher(s): Viva Media
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, other
  • Release: 2012 - 2014
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download,
  • DLC Available: No
  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8
  • CPU: 1.0 GHz
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Hard Drive: 2GB free space
  • Video: DirectX compatible
  • Sound: DirectX compatible
  • Shader Model:
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse
  • DRM: Steam or None
NOTE: Minimum requirements are those officially published at the time of the game's release.
AROUND THE WEB
Official Site - Alawar
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Achievements: None
Cheats: None
Tweaks: None
Patches: Steam Auto Update
Mods: None
CAN I RUN IT?
To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
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  • Version:  Steam Download
  • OS:  Windows 7 SP1
  • CPU:  Intel Core i5-3570K 3.40GHz
  • Ram:  8GB
  • Disk Drive:  DVD/CD
  • Video:  ATI Radeon HD 7870 2GB
  • Shader Model:  5
  • DirectX:  11
  • Resolution:  1650 x 1050
  • Input:  Keyboard & Mouse
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