Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi
In 1909 and twelve months before his death, Samuel Clemens published Is Shakespeare Dead?, which examined the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of William Shakespeare’s authorship. Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, was an avid believer in exploring the truth behind the rumours, even though there is no concrete proof behind the accusations. Well, that was until Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi was released on the iPad. It turns out that MumboJumbo have something they’d like to share with the rest of us.
The Midnight Mysteries series follows a writer that seems to pass through his life befriending the ghosts of long dead authors. The story, some of which is based on fact, the rest on conjecture, whips along at a fair pace, and holds the players interest for the three or so hours it’ll take to complete. The game follows the spirit of Clemens as he tries to escape from a soul-eating demon, and the only way to end his eternal torment is to solve the mystery of Shakespeare’s output.
Or, to put it another way, the only way to end his torture is to solve hidden object puzzles. If you’ve played a Hidden Object Game, or HOG, before, you know the lie of the land with this game. For those of you haven’t encountered a HOG in the wild before, the game will occasionally give you a list of objects to locate within a screen, and upon completion a story item will be unlocked. MumboJumbo haven’t reinvented the wheel in this respect, but with such an easy formula, there’s no real need to.
What they have done however, is to streamline the gameplay experience. The inventory system is very intuitive and even those new to playing this kind of game with a touchscreen will find the controls easy to pick up. Combined with this, the player has access to a journal of events, which can lead the player in the right direction, if the next step seems a little obscure. The makers have helpfully lashed a hint system into the game as well; players can find crows hidden throughout the game, which are then collected and exchanged to solve some of the games more taxing puzzles. Even if you get stuck at a section with no hint crows, a small hint bar builds up in the corner, meaning that no puzzle can halt your enjoyment of the game.
Although Devil on the Mississippi isn’t revolutionary, and HOGs are beginning to clog up the new release windows on both PC and tablets, MumboJumbo have done a great job. Visually, the game is a treat, with all its locations faithfully recreated in stunning detail. A massive mention has to go to the soundtrack and audio effects, which give the game the sense of atmosphere that many titles in this genre lack. It’s definitely a headphone experience, and the game isn’t afraid to throw a few jumps into the mix, so be careful playing on the bus.
The only major problem with Devil on the Mississippi is the control sensitivity; while the majority of the game presents absolutely no problem, the occasional section is rendered far more difficult than it should. A maze puzzle that features in the second half of the game is a real test of the player’s patience, and if it wasn’t for the ability to skip through it could’ve been a real turn it off moment.
MumboJumbo are quickly becoming the go-to developer for interesting and high quality games on the App Store. While Devil on the Mississippi isn’t perfect, the amount of time and effort that’s been poured into this title helps separate it from a very crowded market. If barmy mystery games are up your street, you’re sure to find something to love.