Let’s cut right to the chase: Amazingly, Find Your Own Way Home, the new hidden object game based on 80s hit-makers REO Speedwagon, doesn’t suck. No, scratch that; the amazing thing is that someone not only had the idea of making a videogame based on REO Speedwagon in the first place, but they then managed to talk other people into helping make it happen. The fact that it’s actually pretty damn good is absolutely mind-boggling.
In Find Your Own Way Home, players step into the shoes of Ruby, a “hip” but wickedly disorganized reporter for the fictional television show Entertainment Now who’s following REO Speedwagon on its latest tour across the country. On this particular day, Ruby is scheduled to make her very first “red carpet report” at the release party for the band’s latest album, but as you might expect, shenanigans, misadventures and a missing lead singer add up to unexpected trouble and an amusingly thin yet oddly entertaining excuse to play through the game’s 70-plus levels.
The hidden object gameplay should be familiar to most gamers by now and will take all of about 30 seconds for beginners to pick up, but Find Your Own Way Home slips in an occasional twist. Some variations are included that require players to find objects in a specific order or combine them to accomplish other tasks, such as feeding a cat or turning on a television. Production values are impressive, with attractive, hand-drawn levels, various achievements and “digital souvenirs” to mark the player’s progress through the game and a storyboard-style narration that moves things along between levels. A timed gameplay mode adds a little extra snap to the proceedings, although, keeping with the “casual” concept, a more leisurely untimed option is also available.
While conventional HOG action is the name of this game, other types of mini-games pop up here and there to add a little spice to the mix. Most are fairly simple, although one or two are rather clever; the video editing puzzles are quite well done and “Escape,” a simple stealth game, actually manages to serve up some legitimate videogame tension. None of it threatens to hang up players for more than a few minutes, however. Casual games are lightweight fare as a rule but even so, Find Your Own Way Home is especially forgiving. It boasts a generous hint system that keeps things rolling and no penalty for excessive random clicking during the object hunts, a sure relief for the compulsive clickers out there.
Ironically, the music is the one area where Find Your Own Way Home really stumbles. For an REO Speedwagon game, there’s a very distinct lack of REO Speedwagon. I had visions of rocking out to classic tracks like “Take It On the Run” and “Keep The Fire Burnin'” while making my way through whatever the hell it is one does in a game based on a faded 80s rock giant. What I ended up with instead was a small handful of truncated audio clips that play repeatedly over the course of the game. It includes just five full songs: One from the band’s 2009 Christmas release Not So Silent Night, a pair from the 2007 album Find Your Own Way Home and only two genuine hits, re-recordings of “Roll With the Changes” and “Keep On Loving You.” Even more annoying, none of the tracks are available during regular gameplay, so if you want some Speedwagon with your Speedwagon, you’re going to have to bust out the old vinyl. (Or at the very least, fire up Winamp.)
It’s a relatively minor quibble, but also a surprising oversight in a game based on a rock band, particularly one with over 40 million records sold and 13 Top-40 hits to its credit. The odd result is a game that will probably be better received by casual gamers who neither know nor care about the band than it will be by hardcore REO Speedwagon fans looking for a new way to enjoy its music.
In the end, though, Find Your Own Way Home is too good to pass on just because it’s a little light on the thirty-year-old album oriented rock. It’s a testament to its overall quality that I didn’t even think about the fact that I was playing an “advergame” until someone else pointed it out to me well after I’d finished. A marketing tool it may be, but it’s also a very good game that will easily fill a couple solid afternoons of casual gameplay. For fans of the genre, this is definitely one to check out.
Andy Chalk did in fact head to Walmart to pick up an REO Speedwagon Greatest Hits CD soon after finishing this game.