capsule review

Wizard's Pen

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Wizard's Pen

Wizard's Pen starts with a basic premise: The Wizard has disappeared, leaving you and his semi-intelligent pen to solve the clues. Naturally, these clues take the form of puzzles. Most of these puzzles are a sort of visual fill-in-the-blank; you click the magic quill on a piece of blank parchment, and it shows you pieces of a picture. When you think you've identified the object it depicts, type in the word and see if you're right. (Fortunately, Wizard's Pen forgives typos and near-misses; my "sailboast" still passed muster for "yacht.")

The puzzles are untimed, but you get a total of only eight clicks and guesses combined. Some are easy, some more difficult. Special Challenge variations include "mosaic," "pointillism," and "twist"; in each of these, you must click the parchment to make the image approach recognizability. As you progress through the game, you unlock power-ups in the form of potions, such as "Freeze," "Perception," and "Anagram."

Hidden-object puzzles appear at the end of every level--or "book," in the game's parlance. However, these aren't so much hidden-object puzzles as they are missing-object puzzles. To cross items off the search list, you click the area where they should be. Beware excessive clicking, which lowers your score and temporarily obscures your game with an "ink spill." Hints lower your score, too, but it's worth doing at least once just to watch the smoke ring that forms around the significant absence.

The entertaining gameplay is greatly enhanced by the game's immersive feel. From the moment you fire up the game, when you're asked "Who goes there?", you're clearly in a fantasy realm. Instead of a turn counter, you get a candle that burns down every time you click or guess on one of the main puzzles. Between levels, the quill writes you encouraging notes. Given this enchanting verisimilitude, it seems odd at first to see batteries and recycle bins as puzzle clues. But the quill's mystification at these strange objects emphasizes the difference between the fantasy world and ours--and reminds the player that only someone from our world could win the game of Wizard's Pen.

Note: This file contains a one-hour demo. To keep the magic alive, you must register the game for $20.

--Laura Blackwell

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Wizard's Pen

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