Combining Curious Collectables
Merge Mystery: Lost Island is a merging puzzle game. In this merge title, players assume the role a reporter named Aerin investigating an enigmatic island. To accomplish said task, she must explore the various locations on the island. Players must fulfill specific requests to help Aerin gain access to the various locations. Of course, the real mystery is why she’s on some unnamed island in the first place. The Cypriot developer Freeway Games (also called F-Way Games) presents a potentially interesting premise. One just needs to have the patience to find the answers.
Merging’s Diminishing Returns
The gameplay of Merge Mystery: Lost Island is straightforward: merge two objects of the same type to create new ones. Each of the island locations has a board on which the objects lie. One acquires merging materials by clicking on object spawners. What these objects are depends on the location. The various characters give lists of requested items for players to fulfill, which removes them from the game board. Fulfilling these tasks is how players progress through the game and acquire rewards like coins and experience. Leveling up gives players keys to expand the boards, as well as gems and energy.
Merge Mystery: Lost Island has a fundamental design flaw that is inherent to merge games: diminishing returns. The number of objects required to make the higher-tier ones increases exponentially. Moreover, the spawners have cooldown periods after a while and require energy that slowly replenishes to use. Players can speed things up by using gems to skip cooldowns, watching ads or buying item packs. Of course, players must watch multiple ads to have the same effect as the gems. Furthermore, the game is stingy with free coins and gems, which pressures players into spending real money on microtransactions.
The aesthetic of Merge Mystery: Lost Island is strange, yet mostly generic. Character portraits are well-done, but they still feel like so many other games on the platform. They somehow seem bland despite having a nice painted look. The soundtrack is mostly that jangly guitar sort that feels devoid of substance. It feels like the composer created the music to be just forgettable background noise. However, it’s better that the music is boring than annoying. The choice of a setting reminiscent of a North American coastal island is nice, though.
Merge Mystery: Lost Island is an adequate game. It doesn’t stand out all that much compared to the other merge titles out there. The gameplay is basic and not all that challenging. In fact, the real challenge is having enough patience to try and finish the thing. It doesn’t take long to hit a wall due to the timers. The fact that the game tempts players with microtransactions and a season pass is scummy. Those who enjoy merge games might find this title enjoyable. Fans of puzzle games, on the other hand, may find it disappointing. Unfortunately, the game’s execution doesn’t make finding the answers to the game’s mysteries interesting enough to solve.
Is It Hardcore?
It’s more mediocre than hardcore.
Merge Mystery: Lost Island is a standard merging puzzle game with a detailed yet bland aesthetic. The exponential growth of required materials makes progress slow down fast, thus heavily encouraging in-game purchases. Only fans of merging games will find this game worth their time.