Bohemia Interactive’s fairytale adventure Father Frost HD is based on a classic Russian fable dealing with common themes such as love, wrath, humility and greed. In this quest, a humble and shy girl named Nastienka (nicknamed Nastya) and a courageous hero named Ivan embark upon a journey that spans the four seasons.
Throughout the journey, they visit many locations with challenging puzzles that must be solved. To keep things fresh, these locations are not visited more than once during a given time of day or season.
What’s cooking, mushroom cap?
Like you’d expect from a traditional Cinderella-style tale, Nastya is the stepdaughter of a cruel and heartless stepmother who leaves her to fend for herself while her stepsister receives the royal treatment at home. When she meets Ivan, they fall head over heels in love, but must separate for some time while Ivan gets punished his past wrongdoings by the forest spirits. Over time, they become reunited again and go on to conquer the world through a series of interactive puzzles.
We found the difficulty level of the puzzles to be average, although there were times when the answers were not all that intuitive. To solve puzzles, objects can be collected and stored for later. Usually, a little thought and exploration will help you solve a puzzle, but there were times when the puzzles were strange to comprehend and figure out.
In these situations, we’d appreciate the option of in-app help or even a link to a website with tips, but we found that upon selecting help from the main screen, we were greeted with a developer credits page. Not the information we were looking for, and not exactly “help” of any sort. Still, none of the puzzles are impossible, so a little patience will go a long way.
While the story may seem a bit unusual for a Western audience, we were impressed with the imagery and animations. Sadly, some of audio is not up to par with the visuals. While the classical folk soundtrack is appealing and fitting for the tale, the sound effects seemed to be of lesser quality. This could be due to the fact that this is an adaptation of a 2000 PC game.
Take the road less traveled.
Also, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Father Frost tale, the language used might seem strange and unappealing at times. For example, in one of the first scenes, Nastya is expected to sew a sock prior to sunrise according to her stepmother’s orders. We found it unpleasant and slightly annoying when the evil stepmother would yell “You witch! You poisonous venom!” repeatedly. While it’s not offensive, some of the language detracted from the enjoyment of the game.
And though this is a minor complaint, the fonts used in the game are your basic fonts, and they detract from the storybook feel of the game. Simply using more decorative fonts have made for a more pleasing experience and adhere to the feel of the book, but the developer chose to stick to very plain text styles. In addition to these more subtle flaws were some inconsistencies in the gameplay and puzzle solving which made some of the tasks seem awkward.
Despite these complaints, Father Frost HD has some redeeming qualities that some players may enjoy, such as its pleasant soundtrack, adventures, and animations. For those already familiar with the fable, it may be interpreted as a decent rendering of it. But for us, the story adaptation seemed somewhat awkward and not compelling enough to justify its $4.99 price tag. There are many similarly-priced competitor apps in the App Store which feature better storytelling, comparable visuals, and more captivating features and puzzles.