With a name like Forest Legends: The Call of Love, we were expecting one of those racy Japanese sex games here. In fact, this particular author was practically salivating over the prospect of playing such a filthy experience. Needless to say, when this downloadable PlayStation 3 adventure turned out to be a point-and-click escapade, we were initially a little letdown. Fortunately, saucy expectations aside, this is a reasonably enjoyable digital release.
Rather than a feisty fantasy, this is a satisfactory fairy tale with some genuinely enjoyable puzzles. The narrative is a clichéd affair, depicting forbidden romance, the call to adventure, parental confusion, and grand destiny; it’s very much a Disney movie mixed with Romeo and Juliet. Nevertheless, the fantastical setting and quirky conundrums will prove more than enough to keep you playing.
You adopt the role of a human princess who has fallen head over high-heels for a werecat, a race which the uprights are at war with. After being caught meeting with your fluffy lover, your father shoots and wounds the flashy feline, forcing him to flee into the forest. Back at your castle, the punctured pussy puts in an appearance, and it’s from there that your quest truly begins.
At its core, this game is all about gathering items and solving puzzles – and it succeeds in that area. The point-and-click mechanics are intuitive, the brainteasers are considerately designed, and a well implemented hint system keeps you moving forwards. Unfortunately, the title is plagued by horrendous voice acting. While the narrator sets the scene fairly well, you’ll shudder at the protagonist and her lover’s lines. Worse still, the animation is awful, as inoffensive art is contorted to show character emotion.
Fortunately, the background sketches are much more agreeable. Beautifully crafted vistas peppered with dark forest paths and clearings look incredible, and visibly sheen with particle effects and slick lighting. You’ll spend the majority of your time inspecting these images, too, as you click on objects and search for things to interact with. Each location feels alive due to the abovementioned sparkles and subtle wildlife animations. It’s all rather absorbing.
You’ll happen upon many environments as you work your way through the game, with each chapter introducing a new locale made up of several scenes. Cracking the puzzles you’ll find in these is a case of searching each area for items, and then using what you’ve found. For example, you may uncover a key to pop in a chest, or gems and crests that need to be added to other objects as part of a thread of challenges. The solutions are seldom convoluted or illogical: once you’ve fully examined a puzzle, you’ll know exactly how to solve it. And if you’re still stuck, there’s a handy hint system to help you.
For starters, if you don’t click on anything for a while, the game will highlight any artifacts of interest that you may have overlooked. If that doesn’t work, then you can summon your baby dragon companion, who will breathe a circle of fire onto the screen showing you where to search. Your reptilian accomplice will need to rest once you’ve used him, but if you find a floating ball of fire, you can skip this cool down period. Of course, if you plump up for the ‘Advanced’ difficulty tier, you’ll get no tips whatsoever.
Regardless, approximately four hours after starting the adventure, it’ll all be over – and considering the price point, that’s a bit unfortunate. There is a bonus chapter set several years after the events of the main story, and while this will allow you to prolong your quest just a little longer, you will have to put up with more ear-shattering voice acting throughout.
Forest Legends: The Call of Love is a short but solid point-and-click adventure. Its story is nothing new, its character animations are atrocious, and the voice actors will assault your ears at every opportunity – but there are enough fun puzzles and beautiful vistas stored within here to make the call of love just about worth answering.
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