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Review: Faerie Solitaire
The presentation throughout Faerie Solitaire (FS) is nothing short of astoundingly professional and you can tell from kick-off that you are about to play something rather special. The screens are carefully arranged and the artwork is gorgeous - even the introduction itself knocks many MMF creations straight out of the water.
As for the game itself, the card art and screen assets are beautifully drawn, accompanied by swooshing effects and a sparkling cursor when you make a combo over 5. This all helps the game to feel alive, and non-static, which many MMF creations can suffer from. As you travel through the game, you unlock various areas of the map - for example, the second stage is an barren ice-zone, and the level art (and indeed gameplay elements) adjust to cater for this new zone.
Even the menus and level 'debriefing' type screens are excellently presented with everything thought of; purchasing a special +5% gold building will show a small icon on the post-game stats page so you can physically see your bonus.
All-in-all, a perfect 10 for presentation.
Gameplay itself is very addictive - the testament being that I was sat in front of the TV until gone 1am this morning! The map screen notes progress, and it's nice to see that I'm barely filing the progress bar, as I don't want the main game to end too soon; especially as new game play features get added as you move through the levels. The actual card layout varies from level to level, which does actually have quite an impact on how you play. This is supplemented by special feature cards and other game mechanics such as the Thorny Bush, which requires you to clear one stack of cards, revealing a rose, before you can start on another stack. I've managed to get some massive combos, even without the help of the bonus numbers you pick up later on in the game, one of them leading to unlocking a new must-have game mechanic: "achievements".
The graphics, as mentioned, are highly professional - Brian and Jessica have created something to be proud of.
I found the music, sound and general ambience in FS to be very atmospheric, and it enhanced gameplay by a great amount. Each map zone has its own particular feel, and the music from Jeff really pin-points the mood required for each. In addition, the voice acting is nothing less than that used on professional games, and helps to narrate the story.
As mentioned, progress through the map takes some time, so there's plenty of game available. The addition of features as you progress keeps the game interesting and fresh, and you never cease to be excited when you find a new egg to hatch, or some resource to aid the evolution of your hatchlings. Levels from adventure mode can be re-played later on, allowing players to obtain a perfect score [clear every card] and there's an additional unlockable challenge mode which gives even more to a player who has exhausted the main quest. Challenge mode basically consists of a batch of levels, with slightly harder game objectives (e.g. get 3 perfects, a 12-long combo, etc) The desire to unlock all the acheivements is unaturally strong in FS, and this should itself see that the game provides excellent value for money.
Overall, a perfectly polished game, fully worthy of sitting on shelves next to published titles; anything less than a perfect 10 would be a slap in the face to the developers who have clearly ploughed love and effort into making Faerie Solitaire. I guess the best thing (other than playing it on 42"s of plasma screen) would be that I didn't for one second get the usual feeling of playing an MMF game, and for that, I salute you.
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