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Review: Romance of Rome

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G5 Entertainment, the masters of hidden object games like Treasure Seekers and Mystery of the Crystal Portal, are back with another casual, yet engrossing game full of things to find. In Romance of Rome you will be on a quest to find the stolen Imperial Relics of Rome that will not only win you nobility and fame, but also the hand of the emperor's daughter. Not only is the game fun and simple, but you will enjoy its story too.

Comic panels are shown throughout the game telling the story of Marcus, a young boy who makes his way through Rome and falls in love with a girl who happens to be royalty. Because Romance of Rome is a port from a PC game, the game comes complete with great voice overs that narrate the story for you. Speech bubbles are spoken by each character and they make the game come alive. The comic panels look good, and the game's overall graphics have warm tones that make it seem like an interactive picture book. You will definitely feel nostalgic if you owned those hidden object books back when you were a kid.

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Each episode gives you access to different locations in Rome that Marcus will visit to solve their puzzles and progress through the story. In each location, whether it be a field, tavern, forum, or colosseum, you will have to find objects that are listed on your screen. Once you find an object, it will disappear from your queue and you will get coins that you can use later on to purchase items for yourself. Some items are also added to your inventory on the right side of your screen and can be used on other objects. For example, sometimes you will get a hammer that you can then use to crack open a pot that might reveal another item you need to find.

You can freely exit each location whenever you want, even if you have not found all of them yet. But you won't always find all items on your list without exploring other areas first. You will need to go to other locations to gather inventory items that will help you complete other areas. This lets you backtrack and it mixes up your gaming experience. If you get stuck, you can always tap the hint button whenever you want and find out where an item is. It reloads very quickly, so you can use it as much as you want or challenge avoid it all together. Finding the items on your list is not difficult, but it does require you to be on the lookout for anything that stands out. Some items, though, blend so well with the background that you may overlook them.

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Each item you find gets you coins you can use to purchase items for Marcus, but these items do not let you customize your character. They simply serve to push forward the story and are mandatory to move on to the next episode. I feel that if a game introduces a monetary system and has you collect coins, you should use them to buy things that add to your gaming experience, and not just help the character's reputation. This aside, the game also offers trophies that you can unlock for accomplishing different tasks such as finding objects quickly, finding all secret coins in each location, and not using hints. They serve no real purpose, but are there for you to share with your friends via Facebook.

Romance of Rome only lasts a few hours, but you will most likely play this game in spurts and not realize how long it lasts you. The story will keep you hooked, however, and the charming graphics and characters make the game entertaining. I recommend Romance of Rome for anyone looking for a relaxing puzzle game that can be played on the go but can still offer you a solid gaming experience any gamer can appreciate.

A review copy of the game was provided to me by the publisher. I played the game to completion in a little over two hours.

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