Experience with the first Midnight Mysteries game — which dealt with a conspiracy surrounding Edgar Allen Poe — Â is not at all necessary. In all honesty, I don’t think I could explain to you the details of the story, because it wasn’t very easy to follow. Something about the historic Salem witch trials being a coverup for a conspiracy involving a major land grab, and falsely implicating real-life writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. Whether you follow it or not, it doesn’t really matter. The game is fun regardless, and you don’t have to understand why you’re solving the puzzles in order to solve them.
The puzzles themselves range from standard screen-full-of-objects-to-find to collecting items in your inventory and finding the right point in the game at which to use them. One particularly clever puzzle has you looking top-down at a storage room, where you’re trying to redirect different colors of light throughout the room using mirrors. There’s even a Sudoku board to solve at one point!
The graphics are excellent, possibly the game’s strongest element, with a hyper-realistic, creepy feel. Trees and shrubs sway in the breeze, lending to the realism. Navigation couldn’t be simpler; just tap on the on-screen arrows to go to a new spot. Interesting things are helpfully highlighted with shimmering blue energy, and nearly every screen has hidden goodies in it to find that will help you unlock various extras.
Speaking of extras, the best of these aren’t free. There’s a package of additional content like easter eggs, deleted scenes from the story, and an exclusive hunt that can be purchased separately. You can even buy hints to help you solve the puzzles, but I can’t imagine you’d need them.
The game is almost easy to a fault. There was never a single instance when I didn’t know how to proceed, what puzzle needed solving, or where I was supposed to go next. And if you ever do get stuck, there are plenty of hints to be found. It’s a very forgiving game that not only doesn’t penalize you for doing something wrong — it simply doesn’t allow you to make the wrong choice. Need to stay put in one area for a part of the game? No problem: you’ll find big gates have slammed shut or apparitions have materialized to keep you in place.
A helpful journal is always available that shows you what your next move should be, as well as a percentage meter showing how much of the game is complete. The meter seems to fill up fast, pointing to a shorter game experience than one might expect. It’s a maximum of four or five hours, at most. But it’s an enjoyable experience that’s polished, engaging, and creative.
Despite a few minor faults, Salem Witch Hunt is compulsively playable. I found myself staying up later into the night than sanity dictates, in order to play “just a little more.” Any game that can make compel you to keep playing in an obsessive kind of way possesses that ineffable quality that makes for a great game.