Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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A hybrid of point-and-click adventure game and hidden-object puzzle, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove Collector’s Edition hit the App Store last week and I’ve been losing sleep ever since. This iPad iteration of the popular title, the most recent in the popular Mystery Case Files series, is creepy, but in the best possible way.
Fans of the PC series may know this title is the sequel to Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst and picks up where it left off. Gamers play as a mysterious detective, just heading home from that case. On the way, a blizzard hits the English countryside and strands the hero outside a deserted and seemingly abandoned hotel. Of course, something is amiss; an abandoned car and some videotape reveal grad students in trouble. A scribbled note ominously warns that the old legends about the place are true.
While the game nods its head in some asides to previous titles, this is a stand-alone game. And, what separates it from its ilk are not only the stunning graphics, but also the incorporation of real video footage that looks like it may have been left over from The Blair Witch Project.
The goal, ultimately, is to find all the missing video-vignettes, which unveil the big secrets. To do so, players engage in standard point-and-click adventuring through the hotel, finding clues and objects to add to their inventory for use in solving future puzzles. Other vital objects are hidden in lush seek-and-find rooms.
The game is far from linear, which means moving back and forth from environment to environment often, and keeping track of a lot of potentially useful bits of information. There is a hint button, one use per five minutes, for the hidden object puzzles and casebook which records all the random facts for gamers to refer to on their quest. For those in a rush to see the live action play out, there is also a complete strategy guide making this game ideal for veterans of the genre and newcomers alike.
The graphics are gorgeous and the video adds a refreshing albeit eerie twist. The story, while perhaps pushing the boundaries of suspended disbelief, is nonetheless one players will stick around to see conclude. The puzzles themselves are standard offerings, not really bringing anything new to the genre, but the packaging will leave players hoping Big Fish ports the rest of the series or comes out with an iOS-friendly sequel soon.