The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time
Gameplay 7
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Sarah Pennington continues her epic time traveling saga in this fourth installment of the popular hidden object puzzle adventure series. This time Sarah finds herself stranded when her time machine is destroyed and has to deal with the sinister Dragon Clan while planning an escape. Beyond Time leaves the fantasy theme of the previous game behind for a mixture of Egyptian and Aztec elements, which results in good looking as well as interesting locations to explore. The bonus chapter, which is set in the Realm of The Dead, is also a nice addition. Although it is probably not the best place to start if you are not familiar with the series, for fans this one is a no-brainer.

Gameplay: Slower paced, but features plenty of nice puzzles and mini-games.

Graphics: The setting allows for some very interesting and unique scenes.

Sound: Great use of sound effects and the music as well as voice acting isn’t too shabby either

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The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time

Developer: Sunward Games | Publisher: Artifex Mundi | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure / Casual | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time continues the adventures of Sarah Pennington, a member of the Secret Order of the Griffin and the main protagonist of the series. It continues directly after the events of the previous game, The Secret Order 3: Ancient Times, so if you haven’t played that game yet we suggest you do so before jumping into part four. While you do get a recap at the start of this game to refresh your memory about how Sarah ends up in her current predicament, things will make a lot more sense if you are familiar with the story.

After saving the Kingdom of Aeronheart in the previous game, Sarah finds herself stranded in ancient times when her time machine is destroyed. Undeterred, our plucky heroine enlists the aid of Flavius and comes up with a plan to return to modern times, but this is thwarted by the nefarious Dragon Clan. The result is that Sarah finds herself stranded in a strange land beyond time and space where she must outwit the villainous Cortes and figure out how to get home.

While most of your time in The Secret Order 4 is spent in the strange dimension, the game has a bit of an Egyptian theme, which is quite neat. In fact, early in her adventure Sarah gains a companion in the form of Nubi, which is an adorable incarnation of Anubis. Nubi starts out with the ability to crawl into tight spaces that are inaccessible to Sarah, but as the story progresses you can imbue him with additional powers, such as levitation and invisibility. Although Nubi felt a little underutilized for our liking, he does make for an interesting and unique companion.

Because most of the story deals with Sarah trying to find her way back home, the pace does feel a little slower than previous installments. This doesn’t mean that the game is boring as you’ll still be engaged in activities like rescuing a princess and riding an airship, but overall everything is a lot more relaxed. During your adventure you’ll have run-ins with famous historical figures, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Tesla and even Cleopatra, while the role of the villain is played by the Spanish conquistador, Cortes. Although we didn’t find the story quite as compelling as previous entries in the series, it does provide a good excuse for some interesting locations. Completing Beyond Time doesn’t take very long either, but it makes up for this with a very nice bonus chapter that is set in the Realm of The Dead.

The Secret Order 4 is primarily a hidden object puzzle adventure, so throughout the 47 or so locations you get to explore you’ll find plenty of hidden object scenes and mini games to complete. There are plenty of inventory objects to find and use too, which gives the game almost more of a point & click adventure feel at times. The hidden object scenes are fairly unique as well as most of them don’t follow the traditional “find everything on the list” approach. Instead, these scenes tend to be a little more interactive and require you to uncover or combine certain items first in order to reveal others. If hidden object hunting isn’t your thing you can also switch over the Mahjong mode instead. The mini-games on the other hand are decent, although there were one or two of them that appeared a little too frequently. We didn’t encounter anything truly unique either, so fans of the genre will probably have encountered most of the mini-games on offer in some form already. Beyond Time also has bonus objects to find, which in this case are tribal masks that are hidden throughout the various scenes. Finding them all aren’t essential to completing the game, but does count towards the Steam Achievements you can earn.

Visually The Secret Order 4 is another strong entry from Artifex Mundi and the mishmash of times and places allows for some unique settings. Each scene is packed with detail and good use is made of light or small animated elements to make them come alive. Some of the characters that are rendered look a little out of place on the hand painted backdrops, but this is a minor complaint. The audio is equally good and we recommend playing with a decent set of headphones to really appreciate the vivid sound effects and the abundance of ambient noises. The music isn’t bad either and while the voice acting falters here and there the overall quality is quite good. Players familiar with previous installments of this series or just hidden object games in general will feel right at home with the interface and Beyond Time features all the essentials, such as a map for fast traveling and a journal to keep track of your objectives. Multiple difficulty settings and a hint system also ensure that players of all skill levels will be able to complete this adventure.

Overall, The Secret Order 4 is another solid entry in the series and definitely a title that fans of the genre will enjoy. While the story feels more like a detour for Sarah instead of a continuation of the events set in motion during the previous games, it is still very enjoyable. Although the main game can be completed rather quickly, the solid bonus chapter more than makes up for this. A few small issues, such as an overuse of certain puzzles can be a little annoying, but as a whole this is a great title.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0b
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10
  • Processor: 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0b
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: 10.6.8
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: 10.6.8
  • Processor: 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 (32/64bit)
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 (32/64bit)
  • Processor: 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

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