Keepsake tells the story of Lydia, a young woman who arrives for her first day of wizardry lessons at the Dragonvale Academy only to find the entire school deserted. Even her old friend Celeste is nowhere to be found despite her promise to meet Lydia at the fountain in front of the school. So the game begins as you embark on your quest to solve the mystery of the missing students by solving a number of logic puzzlesÖ
|Looking for the student body.|
The biggest problem with Keepsake is that the Academy is a big place, filled with many, many screens but almost devoid of interactivity. Youíll need to pass through screen after screen of hallway and staircase scenes before reaching rooms that look like they may hold something of interest. More often than not, though, these rooms are just as devoid of interactivity as the staircases. Seriously, when I come across a room filled with bookcases in an academy of wizardry I expect there to be something of interest to find there and I suspect you do as well. The game includes a hint system that will let you know what you need to do next and this is more of a necessity than a helpful extra feature. Without it you could very well give up on the game after wandering through umpteen lifeless screens with only the occasional locked door to break the monotony.
There are three elements that are key to a successful adventure game: story, scenery, and puzzles. Unfortunately Keepsake drops the ball on the first two, and one out of three may be a good batting average but it is not a good score for a game. The lifeless environments utterly fail to carry the story along so you only get random snippets of it when you eventually trigger the next cutscene. Even then there is remarkably little to the story and most of it is crammed into the end of the game. A school of wizardry where the students have mysteriously vanished should provide the setting for a compelling and engaging story, but Keepsake only manages to serve up a dull and half-hearted attempt at a story. As for the scenery, whatever imagination went into bringing Dragonvale Academy to life has had all of the magic sapped out of it because the backgrounds in the game are all blurry or pixilated. Itís almost as if they were taken from postage stamp-sized originals and enlarged by budget-priced graphics software. The failure of the game on these two points strips it of any personality and just in case they werenít enough on their own, the game backs them up with embarrassingly amateurish voice acting.
Keepsake would be a complete wash if it werenít for the fact that it manages to serve up some interesting puzzles. The puzzles are a mix of mechanical and logic puzzles, with an occasional riddle thrown in to mix things up a bit. The difficulty of the puzzles is pretty varied, with some being painfully obvious while others are fairly obscure. Youíll never find yourself stuck though, as the game provides help for every puzzle. The help for each puzzle consists of three hints that start from a basic explanation of the puzzle to the solution itself. Even if you need to ask for the solution, you donít have to bother applying it as the game will let you auto-solve the puzzle to skip it entirely. However, since the rest of the game is so utterly uninteresting if you plan on letting the puzzles solve themselves thereís really no point in even bothering to play the game.
Keepsake will be a disappointment to even the more forgiving of adventure game fans. Puzzle fans should also stay away unless they enjoy having their puzzles separated by long bouts of aimless wandering from screen to screen. Ultimately Keepsake feels as empty and devoid of life as the deserted Dragonvale Academy.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 50%. Who knew that solving a mystery at a school for wizards would be so tedious?