If you enjoy global sightseeing, but feel it needs the excitement of a flea market exploding all over it, then Selectsoft’s series of hidden objects games are made for you. Secret Journeys: Cities of the World plays almost exactly like its predecessor, City Mysteries, only shifting the backdrops to different parts of the world.
Whereas City Mysteries hit up locations more familiar to Western audiences, like New York City and Paris, Secret Journeys has a list of slightly more exotic locales: Venice, Mumbai, Beijing, and Nairobi. To be honest, we know this information because it was given to us. The names of the cities don’t seem to be noted anywhere within the game itself, and not a lick of information is provided for any shot that is used. An educational opportunity is once again lost, and when that happens, Carmen Sandiego wins.
Each city receives five stages, making for a quick 20 in total. Two of these stages involve ticking off a list of items to find by tapping them on the screen. Two swap the list out for silhouettes of the items you seek. The last is a tile swapping puzzle to create a nice scene.
It’s all really simple and straightforward, and you’ve seen it all before if you played City Mysteries. The location photos, wherever many of them may be, are of very nice quality, looking good both in full on the upper screen and zoomed in on the bottom. The cornucopia of objects you need to find also look pretty good, although they’ll never blend in seamlessly with the environment. Once in a rare while, though, the colours of an object and the background may match a little too well, making an object almost impossible to find. Of course, that may just be the point.
The Timed and Casual modes from the first game make their return. In Timed you are given three “lives” to complete each stage within an allotted limit, receiving points for every item found and subtracting a small amount for each incorrect tap. Most players should get through this just fine, thanks to an ample amount of time given and the offering of three “hints” per level that zoom in on the location of a still missing object. Aside from wanting to beat your own personal best scores, though, the points feel rather meaningless. Casual mode throws away the time limit and hints, letting you cycle through and try stages at your leisure.
The ambient sound of City Mysteries has been replaced by a mix of soothing and ethnic music. It fits nicely with the scenery, but could become repetitive during longer play sessions.
Secret Journeys: Cities of the World doesn’t really bring much intrigue to the table. It’s a cut and dry hidden object game that’s somewhat short on content but still replayable. Fans of the genre who enjoyed City Mysteries will find a safe pickup here, but others might find more interest perusing old issues of National Geographic.