A Game for Bookworms
Remember Jane Austen? Now imagine Austen’s famous novels being adapted into a casual mobile game for the 21st century. A heroine, coming into an unusual and surprising fortune through the long lost family. A witty and spry protagonist who goes out to deal with the servants. She also deals with characters as the new mistress of the manor. And there you have it. That is essentially the Android game Secret Diaries: Manage a Manor. It is developed by SQRT3, a well-known studio for its casual time management games.
This casual Android title offers a simple and appealing experience. SQRT’s simulation follows a linear narrative, and we are introduced to the protagonist, Jane Ashford. As many historical fiction heroines do, Jane has had a turn of fortune. She is to receive her inheritance from an uncle. However, there is a catch. She needs to be married by the end of the season. Jane, in an effort to take gain an inheritance, decides to venture out. She dons the maid’s outfits within the game to understand the layout of her new manor. She also mingles to find out the temperament of her suitors. The plot also revolves around a possible match between Jane and the three bachelors within the story.
Tasks To Find True Love
The plot consists of secrets and subplots which are slowly revealed over 60 levels within the game. The game’s story observes 19th-century conventions. There is also a clear influence of romantic historical fiction depicting said period. There are slanders, conspiracies, and rumors that our heroine must deal with, and no doubt fans of this genre will find the storytelling here engrossing enough to continue playing.
Secret Diaries is a time management sim. The gameplay is casual, so everybody can play it. The tasks are engrossing, but repetitive after a certain point. One major mistake that stood out to me was that the title follows a linear plot. It’s not up to the player to choose the man Jane will end up marrying, which might not be apparent since the game gives off a choice-based vibe. The quick-time event prompts of the game are decent, but sometimes, players might find it hard to complete timed tasks. This becomes a little rushed if one has to also look out for hints in order to understand all the tasks to be done within a level. The time sensitivity and the proper execution of the tasks that are required are a bit hectic for a casual game.
Let’s Help Jane
Each level features different tasks. These include stocking the inventory, serving the guests and serving the servants. There is also watering the plants, cleaning and decorating, which is part of Jane’s job as a maid. As the mistress of the manor, the tasks are dancing with the guests and playing the grand piano among many others. A successful completion of a level results in the player earning diamonds, that can be used to improve the garden and some other areas that will move the story forwards. Players will have to watch advertisements, but they are only present before the beginning of the next level, so they aren’t very intrusive.
Each level starts off with an exposition that reveals a little more about Jane and her interaction with other characters. This consists of a number of dialogues between Jane and other characters, as well as plot points that are slowly revealed throughout the gameplay. All the dialogues are well done and are reminiscent of a 19th-century novel, one can almost forget that they are playing a game and not reading a Jane Austen or Bronte sisters’ novel. The dialogues are short enough to warrant attention, and yet they move the story forwards.
Something Old, Something New
As a reader of Jane Austen and other 18th and 19th-century English novels, I realized that the man she would end up with would be the silent broody Darcy type, not the other suitors presented within the plot line. So, the ending proved not at all surprising, and one might even say it’s a bit anti-climactic.
Secret Diaries is a free Android game that is the sweet mix of reading a novel and playing a casual mobile game. It’s fun, light-hearted and easy enough for you to finish the game effortlessly, yet consistent and engrossing enough that you don’t give up mid-way.
Is It Hardcore?
While it’s unlikely to prove engrossing to serious gamers, SQRT’s time management sim offers an interesting way to explore fiction. If you are a hardcore reader and bookworm, especially of romantic historical fiction, Secret Diaries might just be hardcore enough for you.