Can You Really Afford This Manor? Downton Abbey on the iPad

"Downton Abbey" withdrawals? While movies, books, and even travel recommendations have been made for those experiencing the symptoms, there's always the Downton iOS option. But buyers beware; can you really afford this abbey?
"Downton Abbey" withdrawals? While recent articles point to television shows, movies and books, and even travel for those experiencing the symptoms, there is always the iOS option. But buyers beware; the price can be steep. downton Downton Abbey: Mysteries of the Manor (iOS, Free to download, IAP, taggames/Activision; Gr 7 Up) is a loosely defined mystery wrapped around a hidden-object game. The story, which takes a long time to unfold, requires players to find multiple items that Downton servants are suspected of stealing or misplacing. In order to advance to each new level, players must spend valuable resources. As they move throughout the abbey, they will find themselves in increasingly cluttered rooms, looking for items in increasingly obscure places. Often, in order to locate one object, players are required to find another first, which leads them on a circuitous route (that may have them wondering why they started down a particular path in the first place). Every time a room is unlocked, players are rewarded with a few lines of dialogue by the show’s familiar characters. Payoff can come in a few minutes, or, after days of effort. While downloading the app is free, the resources viewers start with (energy, shillings, diamonds), are limited. Shortly after the game begins, options that encourage them to spend those resources faster are visible. Players are frequently invited to make in-app purchases (IAPs), which can range from $1.99 for a purse of shillings to $99.99 for a vault of diamonds. “HURRY” opportunities (costing resources) appear during more advanced tasks. To receive an energy boost—energy that would otherwise not replenish—players are invited to watch promotional videos. While it is common practice to have gamers earn perks in this way, especially in free games, the promotional videos are problematic. Often, they play at a much higher volume than the rest of the app, and they are more likely to freeze during the introductory screen. There are positive aspects to this game. There is that deeply satisfying click that happens in players’ brains when they locate an object, especially if it was well-hidden. Fans of the BBC series will recognize the music playing in the background throughout the app. And viewers may even learn about 19th-century gadgets, toys, and articles. It isn’t necessary to be familiar with the television show in order to understand the game. It also isn’t necessary to be a fan of mysteries, because that end of the story is eventually dropped. That said, the app is mostly likely to satisfy those that enjoy a challenge and hidden-object games.—
Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

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