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PC Game Review: Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst

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If you’ve got a great pair of peepers, a lot of patience, and a knack for puzzles, Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst may be the game for you. You play a master detective investigating an old, spooky, Victorian-era house that holds many secrets. The only clues you have are pages from a young woman’s diary, which you obtain individually by solving a series of puzzles.

Players start off choosing a mode of play. Detective Mode is the normal game play and gives you 35 minutes to solve the puzzles in each stage, while Relaxed Mode gives you 80 minutes. To be safe, I started playing in Relaxed Mode, but I’ve found that it takes no longer than 15 minutes per stage. Then again, some players may require more time than that.

MCF Ravenhearst screenshot 1 Similar to other Mystery Case Files games, the majority of the puzzles in Ravenhearst consist of very cluttered looking rooms in which you must find a number of well-hidden objects. Sometimes the items jump right out at you, but most of the time you’ll spend scrutinizing every square inch of that room. The ways in which the objects are hidden vary. Sometimes it blends right in the background. Other times you’ll only see part of the object sticking out. The appearance of the object is also inconsistent.

For example, “ice cream” in one room may look like a popsicle, but be in soft serve form in another room. If you’re really stumped, you can ask for a hint; however, you only get five hints per stage, so use them sparingly. After finding a designated number of items, you’re taken to the “crime computer” where you must piece together a torn picture. Reassembling this picture unlocks a page from the diary, and you’re through to the next stage.

In some stages, you encounter a room with a locked door, which you must unlock to get to the next room puzzle. To unlock the door, you’ll have to figure out how to operate a confusing, convoluted contraption, as shown in the image below. These are particularly challenging, and one can easily use up all their hints. In earlier stages you can completely ignore this puzzle, but as later stages require you to find more items, you’ll need to unlock this room to get to the next puzzle. Fortunately, again you have a way out. If you just can’t figure it out, click on the telephone icon in the sidebar and you’ll be immediately transported to the next room. However, in exchange, you’ll forfeit any remaining hints you have, so you might as well use them up before using the phone.

MCF Ravenhearst screenshot 2 The locked room puzzles are what I like best about Ravenhearst because each one is unique. The cluttered room puzzles get boring after a while, especially when you start encountering the same rooms over and over. On the bright side, familiarity with a room does help you find items faster, but the whole concept of searching for items amongst the junk gets old after a while. Your eyes also tend to hurt after some time since they’re strained from looking for items. The locked room puzzles on the other hand require a lot more than just good eyesight. Sometimes you have to find a code; other times it’s arranging something in a particular order. Rarely is it intuitive to know what to do in a room, but I do recommend clicking on everything in the room to see what happens.

Another thing I like about Ravenhearst is the flexibility in playing the game. For example, if you’re in a room and you haven’t found all the items, you can simply move on to the next room and locate some of the objects there. It’s a great idea to bounce around different rooms because it can get very tiring to stare at the same room for five minutes hunting for that one last item on your list.

In spite of the redundancy in the cluttered room puzzles, Ravenhearst is a decent game and guaranteed to keep puzzle lovers busy for hours. Just make sure that you rest your eyes after each stage though!

Please download the demo, and if you like it, purchase the game ($19.95).

Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference.

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