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Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis is the sequel to Secret Files: Tunguska, a game which was released in 2006, but not in New Zealand as far as I am aware. Both the original and sequel are available for Wii, DS, and PC, and both are traditional point-and-click adventure games with German developmental original. The game’s main protagonists are retained from the first game, and the plot follows on from Tunguska, but prior knowledge of the series is definitely not required nor necessarily an advantage.

The world is coming to an end (hmm, original plot?), signaled by an African deadly infectious disease pandemic, magnitude 8.0 earthquakes in Japan, volcanic eruptions in South East Asia, burning oil fields in the Middle East, and civil war in South America. Experts are running around trying to work out the cause behind these events, with a UN General Assembly being called in New York to allow formal pontification about these disasters.

Nina Kalenkov and Max Gruber, the main characters in Tunguska, have just ended their relationship. To take her mind of things, Nina goes on a cruise instead of going with her father (a leading scientist) to the UN meeting. Meanwhile Max, also a scientist and a colleague of Nina’s father, is in Indonesia working at an excavation site. Of course, the game wouldn’t continue to cover the stories of both these characters if their paths were not destined to intertwine again – and they do.

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The game opens with some “good for Wii” cinematic cutscenes which set up the story well. The sequencing for the game tends to be cutscene – point and click puzzle solving – cutscene, and so on. Controls are simple point and click, as you would expect of a point-and-click adventure, and while the game supports the nunchuck attachment to move characters around, the same can just as easily be achieved by pointing and clicking on an object of interest for interaction.

The game boasts a “two-player mode for cooperative gameplay” on the back of the case, but this simply set me up for disappointment when the game manual notes:

Please Note: The second Wii Remote does not allow you to interact with objects, move the character, or open menus

It is a bit of a stretch to call a glorified laser pointer “co-operative gameplay”, but I guess it was nice for the developers to have included this.

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Like all modern point-and-click adventure games, Puritas Cordis is played out on a full screen canvas. Waving the cursor around the screen subtly highlights any objects that can be interacted with, although this can be turned off in the options if you prefer. Because it can be difficult to work out what objects are of interest on the screen, you can press the + or – button to highlight all objects and exit pathways to aid you in your quest. This is invaluable to those who will be tested by the sometimes unusual puzzle solutions required to advance. An inbuilt tip system will help complete novices with very basic and general tips on how to proceed, but you may find yourself resorting to a guide for some of the more obscure puzzles. The inventory is hidden from normal view, but easily displayed with a press of the D-pad. As with other such games, many of the puzzles will require you to pick up objects and use them with each other and/or the environment.

Another of the game’s advertised features is “Professional voice actors”, which I guess means that they were paid for their recordings. The acting quality is adequate, but sometimes gets annoying, especially the stereotypical and absurd fake accents. It is nice to see a Wii game get full voice acting for a change though, so full marks for effort. The in-game graphics were visually crisp in 480p on my 32″ CRT TV, and together with the voice acting and cinematics gave a reasonable impression of watching an interactive movie. The only major annoyance of note in this game was the load times on the Wii when moving from screen to screen. It took anywhere from 3 to 23 seconds to load each screen when moving between them, and was difficult to bear in some parts of the game.

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The game plot is not without faults, but if you can look past the cliches and the sometimes slightly illogical puzzles, then this is a game which offers a decent amount of enjoyable gameplay. It seemed to me to be a perfect title for a family to play through together, but the European PEGI rating for this game recommends it for children 12 and over (for violence and language). Often by this age kids wouldn’t be seen dead playing such a game with their parents, but if your children would play with you (or you are happy for slightly younger children to play along with you), then it is a fun game to be shared. If you are interested in a traditional point-and-click adventure from an IP that has not been previously released into New Zealand, then you should enjoy this title, if only for a rental at first.

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