Calavera: Day of the Dead caught my eye as a new release because it seemed to have an interesting storyline, and I have always been fascinated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. I had high hopes, based on its best-selling status, that I had found a good source of entertainment for the night.
I was sorely mistaken.
I really wanted to like Calavera: Day of the Dead for a number of reasons, but I just could not get into the story. The opening cut scene features Alan’s proposal to Catalina and her acceptance pending her father’s blessing. The couple travels to Mexico and arrives just in time for the Day of the Dead celebration.
While waiting for her father at the train station, Catalina passes out from the heat. They must have been experiencing quite a heat wave for her to pass out in the balmy month of November.
While Alan putters around trying to find water for his fiancée, he comes across a demon possessed book named Guide, but isn’t too alarmed that it talks and has multiple pairs of eyes... because that's normal. Alan and Guide immediately start working together to save Catalina, but, of course, by the time he jumps through dozens of hoops to find her some water, it’s too late.
Alan returns to the train station just in time to see an undead skeleton-like character take Catalina away in his flying train. Ok...
The graphics in Calavera: Day of the Dead are well done with crisp animation and a vintage feel. Background music and sounds are slightly ominous but not overbearing and don’t distract from gameplay.
Unfortunately the voiceovers left a lot to be desired. Catalina was weak, over-dramatic and annoying, and the pathetic attempts of Guide at a Mexican accent are so cheesy and stereotypical I couldn’t stand to listen to him when he spoke. At one point, he jokes that he could murder Alan, and I was secretly hoping he would and the game would end because that's how much I hated this game.
Gameplay was slow and hard to follow for me. I usually enjoy exploring and figuring everything out on my own, but, most of the time, I had no idea what to do next without referring to the Strategy Guide or resorting to hints (I did enjoy that Guide doubled as the Hint button and would fall asleep while he recharged).
From the very first task of finding water for Catalina everything in Calavera: Day of the Dead seems to have too many steps and a lot of jumping around to complete the task. The Map you find early on helps so you can quickly travel, but there was still too much back and forths for me to be able to enjoy gameplay in between.
The Hidden Object Scenes throughout Calavera: Day of the Dead were pretty well put together, though they were the usual piles of random junk. Items are all mostly hidden in plain sight with one or two that may require some kind of interaction to uncover, but, in casual mode, the cursor will easily identify them for you.
I completed all the scenes quickly without need for the hint feature, but it’s readily available if necessary.
I appreciated that I came across a variety of unique mini-games so it didn’t become repetitive. The games featured clear directions and were challenging without being overly frustrating. I did skip one game when my patience wore thin, but they are easy enough to complete if you take some time to think about the solution. By this time, I was just wishing for the entire experience to end.
While the graphics, HOS, and mini-games are all well-done, Calavera: Day of the Dead failed to grab my attention. I even set the game down and came back at a different time to see if I would learn to like it, but sadly I couldn’t. The slow and confusing gameplay, not to mention the awful accents were just too distracting for me to overcome enough for me to find a shred of enjoyment from this game.