Disney Playdom is far from done with hidden objects after Gardens of Time‘s smash hit success. Launching this week is the developer’s second Facebook game for the genre, Blackwood & Bell Mysteries.
At the core, the game plays like Gardens of Time — players complete levels by finding lists of hidden objects and increase their level by decorating a virtual space with items they buy or acquire through gameplay and friend gifting. Blackwood & Bell, however, puts more of an emphasis on story and narrative, connecting story progression to special objects that players must find in scenes to advance the plot. Additional modes like one-on-one multiplayer will also be added to the game post-launch. Beyond gameplay, however, Blackwood & Bell features a darker, more sinister atmosphere than its predecessor, which is how Disney Playdom plans to differentiate the game from Gardens of Time and all the other hidden object games that have launched on Facebook since.
“We hope it overlaps considerably with the Gardens of Time audience,” Playdom Executive Producer Joey Klein tells us. “We’d be really excited if this can broaden the market with its edgier feel. Each chapter will have a distinct feel and it’ll be a little darker — we’ll toe the line between actual reality and fictional exciting characters like vampires. That’s where this game fits into the space.”
Incidentally, story and narrative were how developer Making Fun hoped to set its hidden object game, Hidden Haunts, apart from Disney Playdom’s Gardens of Time. With so many developers trying to break into the genre, it’s not surprising to see similarities like this between new hidden object games. It’s even less surprising to see that both Blackwood & Bell and Hidden Haunts draw some inspiration from classic downloadable games that dealt in similar themes of mystery and tension — like Big Fish Games’ Mystery Case Files.
Klein acknowledges that social game developers are often inspired by downloadable games because they were so successful. His real fear for Blackwood & Bell, however, is its inevitable comparison to Gardens of Time. “The theme and the story and the small tweaks make a better game overall,” he says. “By having a deep storyline with interesting characters you meet along the way — we hope it keeps players engaged for a long time. It’ll be interesting to see how the target market changes with the theme.”