Poor Samantha Swift. Once again hot on the trail of her missing father, she unwittingly gives a nefarious villain the means to rediscover the Midas Touch, the ability to turn objects into solid gold. Realizing her mistake, she ventures off to right the wrong and bury the secret of the golden touch once more. Finding dad will just have to wait.
Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch is a very likeable game, if frustrating at times. Samantha is sort of like Lara Croft's kid sister – part archaeologist, part tomb raider, all spunky adventurer. She travels the world in search of artifacts to fill the halls of the Museum of the Lost, while her assistants back in the lab keep in touch via PDA, giving her clues about where to look next. They're a charming little crew that wants to find Sam's dad as much as they want to preserve antiquities for the sake of history. If you remember the Indiana Jones line "It belongs in a museum," that's pretty much how Samantha and her pals feel.
Golden Touch includes hidden object sequences and puzzle solving levels, with some sequences being a combination of the two. Samantha will first have to comb an area for specific items, then use some of what she finds to uncover other objects that are hidden in the scene. She might use a shovel, for instance, to dig up a statuette, or whisk away cobwebs with a broom to reveal a concealed crank. It's a fun idea, but its implementation is a bit clunky. There are no obvious visual clues telling you what you have to do, so you're left just moving your cursor around the screen until it changes into the gears that let you know something can be manipulated. Even when you find the appropriate hot spot, it's not always immediately clear what you're supposed to do; solving the puzzle frequently comes down to simply trying every item in your inventory until you find the right one.
The unintuitive nature of these portions of the game is completely at odds with the hidden object levels, which are so easy that they're tailor-made for newbies. The list items aren't really all that hidden, but if you're having trouble tracking one down, the game does everything but move the cursor for you. Finding lightning bolts adds to your ample supply of hints, but you probably will never need to use them, as Golden Touch will point you at the object free-of-charge. Simply select the item on the list and its silhouette will appear in your scanner – very helpful for objects you might not immediately recognize. The outline will change color depending on how close your cursor is to the object, finally turning red when you're right on top of it. You can choose to ignore the scanner completely, of course, if you prefer to do the legwork on your own.
The puzzles in between hidden object sequences are more straightforward and vary nicely, such as shuffling tiles to reveal hidden keys, or untying knots in the correct order to unlock a door. Puzzle veterans will breeze right through them, but newer players might find themselves stuck on some of the trickier ones. Unfortunately, while Golden Touch does everything it can to make the hidden object sections as easy as possible, the same does not hold true for the puzzles - and there's no option to skip them.
Uneven though it may be, Golden Touch works hard to make it up to you. It has a pleasant hand-drawn art style, great music, and is quite lengthy, even for pros. You may scratch your head at some of its wacky leaps of logic, but still find yourself charmed, just the same.
For similar games, try Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena, Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child, and Azada: Ancient Magic.