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Insider Tales: The Secret of Casanova
Insider Tales:
The Secret of Casanova
Developer:Lesta Studio
Genre:Casual Adventure
Release Date:Q3 2009
Article Posted:August 2010
System Requirements

Inspector Francesca DiPorta is in the middle of her vacation when she receives the call. Professor Manini has discovered an important relic. He needs Francesca’s help to decipher the secrets within the artifact. Cutting her vacation short, Francesca boards the next plane for Milan. Arriving at Manini’s mansion, she discovers that the professor has disappeared.

Francesca searches Manini’s office in hopes of finding a clue. A hidden compartment reveals a mysterious journal. Perusing through the pages, the detective realizes that the journal belongs to none other than Giacomo Casanova. The book is full of cryptic messages and curious diagrams, leading to Casanova’s greatest secret. It will be up to Francesca to piece together the clues and discover the truth. However, the young detective may come to realize that some secrets are better left hidden.

The second installment in the Insider Tales series, The Secret of Casanova is a casual adventure game that takes players on a journey across Europe. Players assume the role of inspector DiPorta. After a brief introductory sequence at Manini’s mansion, players get a chance to visit Paris, Vienna, Prague, and Venice. Each city features puzzles focusing on a different aspect of Casanova’s life. With its pleasant atmosphere and detailed environments, The Secret of Casanova starts out as a promising adventure. However, its short length and repetitive puzzles ultimately prevent the game from living up to its full potential.

The majority of the game takes place at the four European cities. Players can visit these cities in any order desired. While each location offers a unique set of challenges, the puzzles follow the same pattern. The level begins as Francesca arrives at an area described in Casanova’s journal. After an introductory cut scene, players are asked to find a series of objects hidden throughout the area. The game provides a list of objects on the bottom right portion of the screen. The list displays eight types of items at a time. Players are asked to locate the object on the screen and collect it with a click on the left mouse button. New items often get added to the list until players find all the important objects at the location.

Once Francesca is satisfied with the objects she has collected, players may be asked to solve a logic puzzle or an inventory-based puzzle. For instance, during one hidden-object sequence, Francesca collects sixteen paperclips from around the screen. Once all the paperclips have been located, the inspector automatically selects the strongest one and the game loads a lock-picking puzzle.

For the most part, the hidden objects are not overly difficult to spot. The environments are rather crowded, but you can still locate the desired items with a little bit of perseverance. The game does offer a ‘hint’ button that can be used to highlight one of the hidden items you have yet to collect. Once you click on it, the ‘hint’ button must recharge for a few moments before it can be used again. Similarly, the game offers a ‘skip’ button for players that want to move past the logic puzzles. While it is certainly possible to complete the game without using the hint and skip buttons, these player-friendly features may be a welcome addition for beginners.

Unfortunately, the hidden-object and puzzle sequences do get a little redundant. It seems as though the game is repeating the same formula over and over again during each level. Regardless of which location you visit, Francesca has to look for approximately sixteen objects before she can solve a relatively simple puzzle. Repeating the exercise several times completes the city. The formulaic nature of the levels makes some of the challenges feel arbitrary. At times, it seems as though Francesca has to pick up items without a good story reason. It just gives players something to do. At least in certain areas, it may have been advisable to better integrate the item-finding and puzzle-solving sections with the overall storyline.

It is also worth noting that some of the hidden-object sequences will require you to suspend your disbelief. For instance, it is unlikely that sixteen brushes would be conveniently hanging close to a statue that happens to need dusting. Items are not necessarily sized and positioned realistically either. A paperclip may be as large as a tire. You might find a breakfast plate serving as the hubcap of a truck. Pieces of a ladder might be found hovering above the ground. The disproportionate sizing and unrealistic positioning is certainly a good way to make items more difficult to spot. However, it also makes some of the screens look like a crowded mess. The game would have benefited from some streamlining in terms of item placement.

Despite the frustration they may cause, the repetitive nature of the levels and the unrealistic presentation of hidden objects are minor issues that can be overlooked. However, the game’s extremely short length makes it very difficult to recommend. It took me approximately two and a half hours to get through The Secret of Casanova on my first attempt. To make matters worse, once you reach the end of the adventure, there is little reason to go back and play through it again. There is no additional content to unlock. The positions of the hidden objects do not appear to change between sessions either. It is not fair to expect ten or twenty hours of playtime from a casual adventure that has a low price point. However, less than three hours with no replay value is still unacceptable.

The Secret of Casanova has the right elements to deliver a pleasant experience. The environments are detailed and the logic puzzles are entertaining. The soundtrack is very fitting for the game’s calm atmosphere. Some of the hidden objects are rather cleverly placed and will have players searching the screen for a while. Unfortunately, the game also has repetitive sequences and the adventure ends far too soon. Given its remarkably short length, The Secret of Casanova is only recommended if you can purchase it at a deeply discounted price.


PC System Requirements:
OS: Windows® XP/Vista
CPU: 800 MHz or faster
RAM: 1024 MB
200 MB hard disk space
32 MB graphics card
Sound card
DirectX 9.0 or higher