Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst Review
Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst Review (by Gamezebo)
Just when it seemed like the Mystery Case Files series was settling into a comfortable formula, the folks at Big Fish Games have shaken things up with the third game, Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst.
In MCF: Ravenhearst, you are asked to investigate the remote and mysterious Ravenhearst Manor, located in Blackpool, England, after acquiring the incomplete diary of a young woman who used to live there. Instead of solving crimes by investigating various suspects, as was the goal in previous games, your task this time is to find the missing pages of the diary in order to piece together what happened to the girl and unlock the secrets of Ravenhearst.
While the premise is different, the basic gameplay of MCF: Ravenhearst is the same as other MCF games. The various rooms in the manor (32 in total) are cluttered with hundreds of different objects, and each room has a list of clue objects to search for that are hidden somewhere in the clutter.
Once you've found enough clues, you'll be able to use the Crime Computer to finish the level off by completing a mini-game where you have to piece together an old photograph to receive a missing diary page.
In a new twist, certain rooms in the manor are protected by elaborate locking mechanisms that serve as fiendish multi-part puzzles in their own right. These creative and sophisticated challenges are a welcome evolution from the more simplistic set of mini-games that were featured in past MCF games.
Each missing diary page fills in part of an ongoing narrative that helps to tie all the levels together. The humor that was a staple of the series until this point has been abandoned in favor of a darker mood that is enhanced by suitably ominous music and sound effects.
Having a story that unfolds literally piece by piece to anchor the gameplay is a great idea; unfortunately the plot is about as hackneyed as they come. My only major gripe with the game was that the diary entries that told the story could have been more vivid and fleshed out to give the player even more of a reward for finishing each level. (It also doesn't help that by the time you've pieced together the photograph you can basically guess what the diary entry is going to be about anyway.)
Still, the game does manage to poke a bit of fun at itself with clever diary references to the "cluttered" manor filled with "an absolute horde of varied nonessentials" - attempts to logically explain, for the first time, why the player is required to search for such an odd assortment of objects.
MCF: Ravenhearst is challenging but manageable. Both modes on offer (Detective and Relaxed) have time limits for finding all the items, but Relaxed mode offers significantly extended time. You can use up to five hints per round that will not go as far as to reveal the item point blank, but rather will show a glowing circle around the area that the item is in to draw your attention there.
One of the great things about the MCF series - and Ravenhearst is no exception - is that you can play the game over and over again because each time you start a new game, you get a new set of clues to look for among the thousands of different items.
Given the rapid rise in popularity of the Mystery Case Files series and other related find-the-item games, it's fair to be concerned that the series might burn itself out too quickly. MCF: Ravenhearst is proof, however, that the series is in no danger of stagnating just yet.
The game is enough of a departure to still seem fresh, but at the same time doesn't stray so far off track as to disassociate itself from the things that made MCF games fun in the first place. And you don't need to know anything about previous MCF games to be able to jump right in and start playing this one.
Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst Review (by Gamemile)
Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst - Puzzle-quest to the Ravenhearst Manor
Game story: For decades an enigmatic Ravenhearst Manor has been attracting visitors from all over the world with its mystery; but nobody managed to unravel the secret of the place so far...Quite recently it's turned out that some clues can be found in the diary of a girl called Emma. Unfortunately, the entries of the diary that may hold the key to the enormous tale are missing. You have to assume a role of Master Detective and to solve the mystery held by Ravenhearst Manor.
So your task is to search numerous locations of the Ravenhearst Manor for different hidden items.
From the very beginning of the game you find yourself in the ancient manor. The multistoried ancient house is huge: there is Entry, Front Porch, Living Room, Parlor, Dining Room and other premises to visit. Not to get lost in the manor, you are given a map of rooms. Blinking tabs indicate areas to search. Once a room is chosen, click on it to visit location.
When you enter the room, you are given a list of items to be found.
In a terrible mess of the room you have to find objects listed in the column to the right of your playing field. To pick up the item you need, click a right mouse button on it and the object will disappear from the playing field and from the list of items. The time for each level is limited, so try to avoid random clicking. Once you click on the wrong items, your time will be reduced.
If you are completely at your wit's end, you can use Get Hint button.
Try to use help only when you are having really hard time, as the number of hints is limited. The stars under the Get Hint button show you the number of hints left. Remember that a definite number of hints should be extended for sleuthing in about three rooms, so you have to avoid wasting hints in the very first room not to be left helpless in other rooms.
Passing from level to level, i.e. moving from room to room, you have to solve puzzles to be able to move to the next level.
After completing some levels, you'll find that doors to other locations are locked. To open them you have to solve a puzzle. Here your task is to collect journal pieces or to find clues to make some sophisticated gears and mechanisms work.
It's possible to skip a puzzle if you come nowhere with it, but in this case you'll lose a few minutes of your time as a time penalty.
You are constantly reminded of the number of hidden clues. Their number is indicated in the right corner of the playing field.
The Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst game has two modes: Detective and Relaxed. Enjoy the normal, timed gameplay with the Detective mode or ‘savour' extended time gameplay with Relaxed mode.
The game features really impressive graphics and thrilling story. Sinister background music makes your flesh creep.
But in my humble opinion the game is too ‘stuff-heavy' - too many items are crammed in one room, the puzzles are too far-fetched - it took me a lot of time to catch on it.
Besides, more than 70 megabytes is a hefty content for one's PC unless of course you use broadband...
Modem (56K): 250 min
ISDN: 109 min
DSL: 14 min