‘Hazel Dazzel’ – Amid small worlds

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HazDaz_07Hazel Dazzel is the second creation of indie developers Wake Studios. The game is a 3D adventure that features crisp graphics, vibrant colors, and per the developers, “an incredible story with catchy characters”. It also has puzzle elements and generous exploration covering 4 different worlds and 8 dungeons in total. And that’s not all, Wake Studios has designed “…Hazel Dazzle to be a saga. The current game represents the First Act of many, (as they intend to) provide more content in the form of DLC. There are currently 4 more planets planned.” Wake Studios themselves, are “a spanish team of adventure game fans. They aspire to create games on a level never seen or played before on both the internet (HTML5 & native games playable from a browser) and mobile platforms.” Wake Studios first game, Insunity is also available on the App Store.

In Hazel Dazzel you will play the role of “Hazel Joyce, who is a young adventurer looking for the secret powers of the ancient Mirâri civilization. The Mirâri people was a lost civilization of celestial bodies that lived at the beginning of time. They kept secret technologies able to rule the Galaxy.’’ During your adventure, you will traverse across four tiny planets that you can literally walk around their entire circumference. By tiny, think in scale of an ant on a tennis ball; roughly. The games focus is on story, exploration, and mild puzzle solving to advance the main storyline. There is some fighting mixed in, allowing you to use 3 different weapons over the course of the game. However, this is not a hack-n-slash. Battles are succinct, rather easy, and end quickly. They appear to be merely sprinkled in to add variety during your expeditions.

HazDaz_04Overall, the Hazel Dazzle reminded me of unique mishmash of Psychonauts with a odd, yet innovative storyline akin to the Douglas Adams’s book The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And that is a good thing. The written portion of the story is slightly lost in translation “at times”, but you still get the gist of it, even when the grammar goes a tad bit wonky. However, this is easily overlooked with the enchanting environments that captivate you to explore further. And, as the planets are small, the scenery changes often, beckoning at you to see what’s next. Therein lies Hazel Dazzel’s mojo. Often, the game itself has an air of a point-and-click adventure, which transitioned into all action by disregarding found inventory items required to solve puzzles. To that point, the action keeps things fresh and continually moving along from one area to the next feeding your eye candies sweet-tooth.

The only downside, other than the aforementioned, was the games save system. There are “invisible” checkpoints along the way where it autosaves (somewhere in the background), leaving you oblivious to when this occurs. Therefore, in leaving a game, your not exactly sure at what point you are going to start back at playing. Yet, this wasn’t enough to put me off from playing it, as once you solved a portion, repeating it to catch back up isn’t a lengthy process. Furthermore, it’s easily overlooked given the odd, enchanting nature of the game as a whole. Case in point, at certain times, a 3D mini-game is required to solve certain puzzles using the iPad’s accelerometer to align puzzle pieces in a 3d hybrid vector-type environment; via an in-game tool called the Balar. Additionally, the rest of the game is a simplified touch system that is as easy as it gets to understand. No tutorials needed here!

HazDaz_17Hazel Dazzel has enough going for it to bedazzle the adventurer at heart. At the fair price point of only $2.99, I think it is worthy of picking up and checking out. The music complements the game in all areas, and enhanced the illusion of the games immersion factor. While the game may also seem a bit easy to some, what it lacks in challenge has certainly been overcome with charm. Just seeing it through to the end is the joy in finding what Wake Studios will come up with next. Also, there are some humorous points to indulge in along the way. Hazel Dazzel is available for the iPad only as of Oct 2013, was reviewed on a 4th Gen iPad running iOS 7.0.3, and has its own website. Wake Studios was “born in 2009 from the minds of 5 former students of the ‘Videogames Development Program’ Master in University Pompeu Fabra.” You can find out more about them by visiting their official website.

[review pros="Odd yet intriguing story, complemented by; imaginative worlds to explore, music that completes the experience" cons="Indeterminable save points, slight grammar issues from translation, not overly challenging for some" score=91]

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