Gamers of a certain age will likely remember the adventures of Esteban and friends as they searched for the legendary city made of gold. Now the cartoon is being brought back for a new generation and Secret Paths aims to be the perfect companion piece. The plan is to release new levels as the series progresses which merge sections of the animation into the game. It’s an ambitious project, but for now we can only look at what we have here.
The game is beautifully presented with clear and colourful cartoon style graphics which paint a rich world to look at and explore. The sound also sets the scene well and everything is tied together with cut scenes of a quality that look like they have been lifted directly from the show.
During your adventure you’ll play as the three children and need to switch between them to overcome puzzles and collect items. Each of the children has their own abilities which need to be used to get around. Esteban can summon the son, while Zia can squeeze through small gaps and Tao can interpret runes and send his pet parrot to steal keys from guards.
The game world is viewed from an isometric/top down perspective which allows players to see a decent amount of the level at once. This is useful as you’ll need to see where you need to go and also avoid the pirates and bandits in each level.
There is no death in the game but wandering into the line of sight of an enemy for too long will see the child captured and you’ll have to restart from the a short distance away from the section. Enemies aren’t massively challenging and follow a predetermined route made all the more predictable but footsteps appearing in the ground as they walk but it does keep you on your toes.
Puzzles generally involve moving the characters and objects onto pressure pads to open gates and doors. Sometimes you’ll have to work out some simple number puzzles or find rocks to drop into place, but there is nothing here that will stop you for long. Levels also contain scrolls and unlockable artwork for the obsessive collectors among you.
The game doesn’t pose much of a challenge but much of its charm comes from the semi-casual nature of the title. It’s certainly aimed at younger gamers as something to keep them occupied between TV episodes and it clearly has had a lot of care and attention put into it to create something that’s fun in small amounts.
Overall, this is a fun, if light weight adventure to undertake. Fans of the show and younger gamers will find enjoyment here but the repetition and lack of challenge does hurt its long term appeal. It’s a nice way to spend small chunks of free time but most gamers will probably look to seek out adventures to deeper and darker places.