If you havenâ€™t heard of the Mystery Case File (MCF) series of games (and seen the clones) then you must have had your head in the sand. Mystery Case Files â€“ Huntsville, by Big Fish Games was the first one and itâ€™s been out for quite a while now and spawned several sequels.
Itâ€™s a downloadable casual game based on the simple concept of finding hidden objects (a genre of game that is becoming increasingly popular). In other words, you are presented with a 3D pre-rendered screen full of loads of objects and have to find and click on certain objects (there a list at the side of the screen). Initially this is quite easy but it soon becomes difficult because there are just so many objects on the screen, many of which are cleverly hidden. Plus occasionally you get a cryptic clue like â€œpair of glassesâ€ and you have to click on two wine glasses, or â€œsevenâ€ and you have to click on two dice that are showing a total of seven!
There are many different locations, which are accessed via the town map. The plot is that you are a private eye solving crimes in the town of Huntsville and you must visit several locations to collect all the clues to complete the level. When youâ€™ve got all the clues you have to solve a small picture puzzle where you swap scrambled up squares until the picture and criminal are revealed. Naturally you must do all this within a time limit. Note that to prevent cheating you canâ€™t randomly click all over the screen looking for clues otherwise the timer runs down.
After youâ€™ve played several levels and revisited some of the locations a few times (new locations are unlocked as you progress) you get to know where some of the clues are and because the list of clues is populated randomly you can often find some of the clues very quickly – so it becomes more of a memory game than an I-spy game. This is fine though, as itâ€™s a good mix of memory and observation.
I played this game with my whole family gathered round the computer which probably made it a lot easier, but it still took us quite a few hours to finish it. We only had to replay a couple of levels due to running out of time; these levels were fairly early on when we hadnâ€™t totally got the hang of it and also most of the clue locations were still new to us. I found myself â€œcheatingâ€ a bit on the scrambled picture levels because when there arenâ€™t many pieces left you can randomly swap them round quickly and youâ€™ll accidentally put them in the right place.
Overall a fun game with good graphics, although the cluttered screens are pretty confusing at times, and an original concept. We all enjoyed it and Iâ€™m that sure you will too.
While you’re at it you can check out my review of Mystery Case Files â€“ Ravenhearst too.
I'm an Indie game developer with a couple of titles under my belt. I've been programming for 23 years on a variety of platforms. Currently I'm using BlitzMax, which is great.