Developer – Big Fish Games
Publisher – Big Fish Games
Released – November 26 2008
Rating: E – T
Game Score: 10/10
In this sequel to Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, players again take on the role of a Master Detective trying to unravel the evil mysteries which inhabit the old Ravenhearst Manor. Picking up where Ravenhearst left off, the story revolves around the fate of yet more ghosts who are still trapped in the eerie mansion.
The tone for Return to Ravenhearst is set right from the opening frames of the game. A moody and haunting soundtrack, complete with timely sound effects lets the gamer know that this chapter in the franchise is not going to be a pleasant jaunt through the park. The game’s environmental artists have developed an atmosphere that exudes creepiness – everything from the artfully created lighting to triggered animations immerses the player into the mood of the story.
To advance through the game, the player must not only find all of the necessary hidden objects, but also remember where certain objects were needed and solve a wide variety of puzzles. All of the puzzles and hidden object screens offer varying levels of difficulty. I found myself alternating between easily solved hidden object sectors and some which took a lot of looking to find the listed objects.
The wide variety of puzzles make use of several areas of thought – some are based on logic, others on math, and still others are sequential and seem to depend on trial and error (at least, that is what worked for me). The puzzles often offer hints which are cleverly blended into the artwork, and if the gamer is paying attention as well as taking in the entire screen, the solutions needed can often be found.
The developers have also integrated a cheeky hint dialogue, which at times pokes fun at the gamer when mistakes are made in the use of objects or when taking closer looks at how to obtain an object. One of my favourites is along the lines of “do you think you’re playing a game?”
I feel that Return to Ravenhearst has advanced the Hidden Object Puzzle genre by leaps and bounds through the use of sensory stimulation. This game is so immersive that it is easy to become hooked on the gameplay and feel as though you really are creeping around a haunted mansion – particularly when you are studying a room and see a shadow move through the room or past a window. With over 150 different areas of investigation, Return to Ravenhearst is guaranteed to keep the player engaged for many hours of sleuthing fun. I give this game a rating of 10 out of 10, as it truly is a great game and once again shows without a doubt why the Mystery Case Files is such a hugely popular franchise.
OS: Windows XP/Vista
CPU: 800 Mhz
RAM: 512 MB
Hard Drive: 347 MB