Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix caught me unawares right from the get-go, and I never seemed to steady myself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Perhaps I should confess right off the bat that I did little to no research on Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix. Normally, before playing a game, I analyze the premise and review other offerings from that particular game developer. Not this time. I saw the thumbnail and thought it looked intriguing and, well, hit that download button right away. Again, that’s not a negative. However, from the picture, I conjured up what I “thought” the game would be, which wasn’t what it turned out to be at all.
The little snapshot visual and the title, Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix, had my imagination racing back to ancient China. The bright orange phoenix and the undulating dragons had my little brain prepared for a “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” odyssey of kung fu moves, fog-shrouded pagodas and jade amulets.
So, imagine my surprise when what I get is a sort of pseudo Romeo and Juliet, set in some mythical “Euro-kingdom.” Once I wrapped my head around the backstory, I was ready to enjoy the experience. But expecting one thing and getting another did have me off balance for the first five or 10 minutes.
The aforementioned backstory is one of star-crossed lovers a la the bard’s most famous tragedy. In Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix, two kingdoms — the Phoenix and the Dragon — have been warring for more than 300 years.
Now, just as the kingdoms are to be united through marriage, the Prince of the Phoenix Kingdom has been kidnapped, a dastardly event orchestrated by an evil witch. If the two kingdoms can’t forge an alliance through marriage, the witch will break free from her stone prison and control the realm forever.
It’s up to you, as the Princess of the Dragon Kingdom, to locate your missing groom and unite the kingdoms. (I have to admit, it’s a nice change of pace to have the princess saving the prince for once… take that Sleeping Beauty!)
The graphics are well done and the voice acting technically proficient. Most of the scenes are rich with things to accomplish. I’ve never been thrilled with games that send you all over creation to find a single room to pick up “one” rope. In most of the scenarios in Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix, you are scrambling across the screen grabbing this and that. You’ll enjoy plenty of action before moving on to the next visual.
I also liked the quality of the gameplay within Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix. You’ll encounter plenty of traditional Hidden Object Areas, as well as more unique “find and place” scenes, involving locating items in silhouette at the bottom of the screen. Some of these activities include “games within games,” which provided a deeper level of play.
For example, one of the aforementioned “find and place” scenes involved locating playing card suits. To do this, you were required to “flip” insets on a knight’s shield to create images of the club, heart, diamond, and spade. And, in various scenes, you use a Golden Phoenix Amulet to locate invisible symbols. Think of it as similar to the “lens” the kids used in the Spiderwick books and movie.
Despite thinking I was embarking on one quest and ending up in an entirely different one, I enjoyed Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix with its unique mini-games and activity-packed sequences. Now if I could just convince a game developer to create the Chinese adventure I’d conjured up in my mind, I would be one happy woman.