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Review

Review: Hamilton’s Great Adventure (PSN)

One man and his d... bird.

Hamilton’s Great Adventure (HGA) is quite a departure from Fatshark’s last game, the online shooter ‘Lead and Gold’. Whereas that saw you killing everything that moved, HGA is a rather more chilled game in the puzzle genre.

The game starts with Ernest Hamilton as an old man, spending time with his granddaughter, Amy. Due to the fact he is a legendary explorer, Hamilton always has plenty of tales to tell when it comes to keeping Amy amused. It’s here where the game starts, as you relive one of his greatest adventures (see what I did there?).

Info:
  • Released on 24/08/11.
  • Also available on Steam.
Viewed from an almost isometric angle, the point of every level in HGA is to guide Hamilton around to collect the golden key which will open the exit. At first the game is easy, almost surprisingly so, but the difficulty does ramp up with the introduction of locked gates that require silver keys to pass. Getting these keys require you to overcome various puzzles, and it’s here where your sidekick Sasha comes in.

Sasha isn’t a person, but a rather useful bird. At any point during a level you can switch to Sasha and fly her around looking for levers to pull, which will allow you to switch back to Hamilton and proceed. If you have a willing friend you can also play local co-op, with one person playing as Hamilton and one as Sasha.

Once you get further into the game you’ll have a number of enemies thrown your way. Sasha once again proves her worth as you can make her squawk, which will distract them and allow Hamilton to slip past. This is actually a really good feature, adding an interesting new twist on what was already a decent game.

For the most part I really enjoyed the puzzles on offer here. It takes a while to get going, but even the easier stuff is well designed and gets you used to how things work. New features, such as traps, are introduced gradually before being combined with enemies and keys in later levels. When it all does kick off expect to sit there scratching your head for a while before that little light bulb in your brain goes off, and the solution is revealed.

So, we know the aim of every level, but what else is there to keep one occupied? Well, those who feel compelled to collect every piece of loot in a game will be in seventh heaven here. There are two main ways to play HGA; you can collect the keys, avoid the traps and head for the exit, or you can search every inch of a level for the various types of treasure. This requires a lot of switching between Hamilton and Sasha.

Playing the first way is a much easier experience, but the full brilliance of HGA isn’t really revealed until you go off the beaten track and try to collect everything. A lot of surfaces you walk on collapse the moment you step off them, so careful planning is needed to ensure that you can actually make it over to that shiny gem and back again in one piece.

Levels are scored at the end, and you are given a bronze, silver or gold medal based on treasure collected, time taken and how many restarts you used. These scores are then uploaded to a leaderboard where you can either brag to your friends, or hide in shame.

Graphically the game looks great, and whilst it isn’t particularly heavy on the textures it does have a certain charm about it, and stands up well against other downloadable titles. You’ll also get a decent amount of play time out of HGA, around five hours or so, which is a good length as I feel the game might outstay its welcome after that.

There are a couple of niggles to put a dampener on things, however. Hamilton’s movements are grid based (he’ll only step forward, backwards, to the left or to the right) but there are times where there seems to be a delay with him stopping, causing him to step one square too far. This gets frustrating when the square is collapsible, as the second you move off it will disappear, leaving you stranded and reaching for the restart option.

The camera can also be a bit cumbersome. When using Sasha your view can get blocked by scenery, and as Hamilton you can only rotate the camera left and right a small amount, which really doesn’t help with certain puzzles when you just want to scan the environment.

Pros

  • Well-designed puzzles
  • Four nice looking locales
  • Good co-op mechanic
  • It will provide a challenge
  • Two ways to play: quick run or loot collecting

Cons

  • Cumbersome camera
  • The occasional sluggish controls

What a nice surprise Hamilton’s Great Adventure has been. It manages to combine all the important elements of a puzzle game, and wrap them in charming visuals with a great co-op feature. If you can forgive the odd random difficulty spike and slightly iffy camera, then give this game a look.

Score: 8/10

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9 Comments
  1. Paranoimia
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    I tried the demo and gave up on it. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X. Press X.

    I didn’t want to skip in case I missed anything important, and it was at least 5 minutes before I got to any gameplay. And the gameplay wasn’t worth the wait.

    Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 17:03.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Tried it on Steam and couldn’t manage it either. Gutted as I’d been following it for a while. Didn’t build my hopes up too high but knew it might tick all the boxes but no, it truly did leave me absolutely cold. Gutted.

      Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 17:18.
    • moshi
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      Excellent 1st paragraph .

      Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 18:22.
  2. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    The demo reminded me of Puzzle Dimension with some added puzzle elements requiring the character switch. Good review but i need to finish PD first :/

    Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 17:21.
  3. philbert8
    The Frankie Boyle Of TSA
    Since: Sep 2010

    I quite liked the demo, thought it was a shame the right thumb stick didn’t control the camera for a 360 view though. On my list for a future purchase.

    Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 17:36.
  4. Origami Killer
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    I played the demo with my brother and hated it, really surprised by the score

    Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 20:14.
  5. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Wait, this is a puzzle game?
    I really should stop judging games by their character’s Indiana Jones hat…

    Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 22:36.
  6. bacon_nuts
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    I thought it was pretty fun, not my sort of game, but it wasn’t bad. The demo was pretty dull but i figured that’s because it was the start and easy. I did think the controls were a little unresponsive though.

    Comment posted on 31/08/2011 at 23:44.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      Which could potentially kill the game if it requires precise movement (as this seems to).

      Comment posted on 01/09/2011 at 10:05.

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