You’re going to love The Case of the Golden Idol if you enjoyed Return of the Obra Dinn

Point and Click Adventuring is definitely enjoying a renaissance moment right now with a Return to Monkey Island and an Excavation of Hob’s Barrow.

While not quite in the same vein, The Case of the Golden Idol is also playing its part in that story with its take on Hidden Object Adventuring blended with the excellent investigative journey of Return of the Obra Dinn.

The Colour Gray have taken players back to the 1700s to solve a series of bizarre, gruesome, yet connected murders across several chapters and a variety of scenes.

The game is split into two halves – Exploring and Thinking. While Exploring, you have to try to find all of the hidden clues scattered through each scenario. Sometimes these can be simple and contained on one screen, but eventually they can expand to 4-5 screens where not everything you click on is relevant to to the mystery.

In this way it plays like a Hidden Object Adventure where you click on points of interest. This could be examining a person to see what they have in the pockets, reading through literature to find relevant passages, and even opening secret doors that provide invaluable clues.

These are usually identified with a sparkling glint on screen, but if you fancy a real challenge you can even turn those off and try to find them manually.

As you explore, you’ll pick up key phrases, learn people’s names, and find out bits of information that provide context and motive for each of the murders.

The connecting element, of course, is the Golden Idol, that has many interested parties and key stakeholders that seem to bring about this wave of death wherever it goes. How or why is what you’re here to discover.

And that’s where Thinking comes into play because once you’ve gathered those clues, you have to feed them into a variety of different mini-puzzles that spell out what’s happening in the scene you’re working through.

At the heart of it is a breakdown of the scene in written form via a virtual notepad where you have to fill in the gaps with words you’ve learned by exploring. Names, Actions, and more are a factor and as the game progresses so these breakdowns become longer and much more complex.

And for me this is where the game shines because as you meet more characters, you’re also charged to remember characters you met before, reminding yourself of their motives and the parts they’ve played in previous scenes. It’s very clever.

As such, it’s very like Return of the Obra Dinn where you have to keep the crew members in your head, remember where they were, what they were doing, things they’ve said before, people they’ve interacted with. While it never goes quite as deep as Lucas Pope’s incredible adventure, the homage to it is clear for all to see.

Other mini puzzles are also relevant to each individual case. For instance, one case tasks you with identifying where people’s quarters are and where people sat for dinner. Another asks you to figure out who might have been playing cards at a particular time because that might help you rule out a potential murderer.

Of course, as long as you solve the main breakdown of the case, the rest is kind of optional though it can be helpful for you to figure out future cases or at least gain more of an understanding of what’s happening in the story.

The game also has a very interesting hint system. It never outright tells you who the killer is, what they did, or how to actually solve the puzzles. What it actually does is provide some thinking points to help make those conclusions, offering musings to consider. And hilariously, the game even makes you work for that by presenting you with a list of reasons why you shouldn’t use hints, then forcing you to match up items with names.

Basically, the game really doesn’t want you to cheat to progress but also understands enough that if you’re truly stuck, you’ll probably be able to pull the solution from an online guide.

I did test this to the full for review purposes, though, as I was convinced I had the right solution to one particular puzzle yet the game kept telling me I was wrong. So I’d exhausted the hints, was no further forwards, and just before deciding to take a break, I discovered I could actually progress to the next case in the chapter which is usually locked.

I sneaked a peek, looking at some clues, and while this actually helped me reset and refocus myself a bit, it did also act as kind of a spoiler for the prior case as I noticed someone wasn’t present. I went back to the case, and, lo and behold, my suspicions were confirmed.

In that sense, it still felt good because, yes, I’d cheated a bit to try and help me, but I’d still managed to figure out who it was myself by deduction. And a little bit of prompting.

The Case of the Golden Idol is a very enjoyable game. It sticks to its niche, expands upon it sensibly and carefully, making sure the player is always challenged, and by the end you still feel a semblance of satisfaction by solving the cases.

The overarching story throughout is also plenty interesting to motivate you all the way through. The twists and turns keep you engaged and continue to surprise right up until the end.

The UI was a bit frustrating at times with the dragging feeling a bit heavier than it should. As such, it doesn’t play too well on a controller and is definitely one for a mouse. I did find some cases try to be a bit too clever, sometimes at the point of exerting the player a bit too much with an information overload on any one scene.

Overall, though, this is one of my favourite games this year and one I couldn’t put down until the credits rolled.


The Curse of the Golden Idol keeps you guessing right up until the end. It smartly connects its cast and cases, really immersing you in its mysteries and intricacies. Some minor UI issues aside, this is a must play for adventure game enthusiasts or anyone looking for a good, memorable journey.


+ Clever interplay between cases
+ The seamless switch between exploring and thinking is handled brilliantly
+ Enjoyable uncovering of mysteries that feels satisfying


– Dragging and dropping can feel a bit of a chore. 

The Curse of the Golden Idol is out now on PC 

Code Kindly Provided by Playstack

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.
Skip to toolbar