Big Fish Games’ “Mystery Case Files” are known to be among the best hidden object games available and with each release, there is always something to look forward to. With the sixth game in the series, “Dire Grove”, this dark and creepy game features an enjoyable storyline, challenging gameplay and also videos that have that “Blair Witch” freak-you-out type of style to it! “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove” is highly recommended!
VIDEO GAME TITLE: Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove
YEAR OF INITIAL RELEASE: 2009
VIDEO GAME GENRE: Hidden Objects/Interactive Hidden Objects
PUBLISHER: Big Fish Games
MEDIA: (Available on several Viva Media Packs or as a download)
MEDIUM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 7, Vista, XP, (also available on Mac and iPad)
RATINGS: E 10+
RELEASE DATE: November 25, 2009
VIDEO GAME HIGHLIGHTS:
The Celtic legend of Dire Grove has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. When a recently unearthed artifact in the United Kingdom corroborates the legend there begins a journey of survival for a small band of researchers in the small resort of Dire Grove. Discover the secrets hidden deep within the snow that now blanket the once peaceful community of Dire Grove!
When it comes to hidden object games, Big Fish Games is known to deliver. Especially when it comes to their hit series “Mystery Case Files”.
With a total of eight games released on PC (some games are available on Mac and iPad), one game on mobile phone, Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii, including a novel series, the “Mystery Case Files” have garnered many fans all over the world who are looking for mystery, dark and sometimes eerie hidden object games.
The sixth game in the series “Dire Grove” was released in December 2009 and was released in a standard edition (released alone or bundled with “Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends”) and a collector’s edition (which offers a strategy guide, achievements, extra levels and additional gameplay for the more experienced players), “Dire Grove” was praised for its storyline and for its use of full-motion video.
The story of “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove” takes place after “Return to Ravenhearst” and as you are driving back home, you go through a vacation town known as “Dire Grove”. But because of a heavy snow storm, your car gets stuck. And in front of you is another car that seems to be abandoned.
As you look inside the car, something seems unusual and inside appears a video. Fortunately, you have a crime computer that can play video tapes and when you play it, a frantic young woman is seen screaming in fear and hoping someone can save them. And a note that reads, “She is real. The legend is real…”.
As a mystery case detective and the fact you are stuck in the area, you have no choice but to see what is going on and up ahead is the Dire Grove hotel. Everything seems a bit creepy in this town that seems to be abandoned. But the door is open and inside are camp bags but no people.
You find another video and learn that the young woman that was screaming earlier is a college student named Alison Sterling (as portrayed by Davie-Blue), a young woman studying the Celtic legend of the Banshee as part of her research. When news comes out that someone in Dire Grove has found a certain object, Alison feels that this object may be one of the four, according to Celtic legend that was used in trying to resurrect the dead, but instead, four individuals using these mysterious objects had opened the doorway to the underworld. And a woman was sacrificed to the underworld and her soul has become a banshee.
Of course, this is just a myth… or is it? Alison believes it is worth researching. So, she and her friends Susan (as portrayed by Lauren Dobbins), Jack (as portrayed by Banks Boutte) and Matthew Ryan (as portrayed by Justin Kay) have traveled to Dire Grove to check out this mysterious object. But for some unknown reason, these four individuals get caught in an unusual snow storm in Dire Grove and now something may have happened to them.
As a mystery case file detective, find out what is going on in Dire Grove and what happened to these four individuals and if they can be saved.
Installation of “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove” is easy. Big Fish Games has one of the best installation panels plus game organizers (for Big Fish Games only) for their casual, hidden object games.
I was absolutely captivated by “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove” and is definitely one of the best hidden object games I have played. This is a game that requires visiting various areas by clicking on the screen to move to various rooms or scenery (very quick) and finding hidden objects featured on a list and you are rewarded by another hidden object which will be used in another scene. Also, there are a number of puzzles that need to be solved.
For the most part, the hidden objects games if rated one for easy, three for average and five for the greatest challenge, I rate the hidden objects gameplay as a three. The hidden objects are easy to find, some a bit harder than others but are not so small that they are too difficult to find. If anything, a challenge that some people may experience is the use of certain words that one may not know and will need to look it up.
The game has hints that recharge and the puzzles have NO solve button. So, you will need to play all puzzle games and beat it. Puzzle games if compared to the similar rating as the hidden objects game, the puzzles are challenging and are a four in ranking. I’m typically one to never use strategy guides, but there were two puzzles that I had to briefly look up and get an idea what I had to do to beat that certain puzzle.
As for quick clicking, you can not do this on the hidden objects, or else the screen will freeze and you will not be able to move for many seconds.
Overall, gameplay took me anywhere between 6-8 hours. The puzzles were a thorn in my side but fortunately, the walk-through helped me beat two of them. But for anyone curious about this game, “Dire Grove” is fantastic. It’s a very enjoyable hidden objects game!
If by any chance, you do get stuck and need help with beating this game, I recommend visiting this link on the Gamezebo walkthrough website.
Although I am reviewing this game in 2012 and it was made in 2009, while there have been graphical improvements in “Mystery Case Files” with the seventh game “13th Skull” and the latest eighth game “Escape from Ravenhearst”, “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove” still looks fantastic considering when it was made. The hidden object puzzles are well-detailed and full of detail, the locations are just as beautiful to look at.
“Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove” features a wonderful musical soundtrack, some creepy and eerie noises (and overall ambiance) but it’s the videos that gives the setting for fear and terror in “Dire Grove”.
While there may not be any replay value for the “Standard Edition”, that is why Big Fish Games included a second bonus game (“Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends”). Although, those who want more levels and challenge will want to find the collector’s edition version now available for PC, Mac and iPad.
“Mystery Case Files” games are known for their wonderful gameplay (note: I’m specifically talking about the PC/MAC games, not for the portable systems) and Big Fish Games really delivers in creating an environment and look that fans will love.
As a frequent visitor on the Big Fish Games forums and also a big fan of their games, I have to say that “Mystery Case Files” are among the top hidden object games out there and for casual gamers, if you want to start out with hidden object games, especially titles that are good, you can’t go wrong with the eight games available on PC and Mac.
As for “Dire Grove”, what a fantastic game this one turned out to be. I love the creepiness of the game but by no means is it horror. It does try to use certain types of “Blair Witch” playing with your mind type of tactics, especially with the use of video in this game. But the whole adventure and just the feeling of being stuck in the middle of a snowstorm and in a vacation town where everyone is gone and creepy things are happening all over the place, it definitely made things much more intriguing.
And what I loved about the game is that it’s challenging. Sure, the hidden object game is not too difficult, just about right without becoming frustrating (although some words, you may need to Google and look up what they are) and of course, you get many hints (although the hint does take a while to charge up). But it’s the puzzles that provide the challenge. There is no solve button to beat the puzzles and skipping puzzle just means quitting but yet you still have to beat it. So, I love the game for its challenge.
As for the standard edition of “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove”, you do get two games including “Mystery Chronicles: Murder Among Friends” (which is more of a straight hidden objects game, no puzzles) and you can find this game for less than $10 online. Which is fantastic!
While there have been many improvements in the Mystery Case Files games since “Dire Grove”, still… this one has a lot going for it. A dark and creepy storyline, great graphics and audio, video is also quite interesting to watch and it’s definitely one of the most entertaining HoG games that I have played. And makes me want to go out and purchase the collector’s edition of the game!
For “Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove [Standard Edition]“, I give it a RATING: A
James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Death in Scarlet (as part of the James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection) (a J!-ENT Video Game Review)
The first game in the “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club” series is a pretty challenging but enjoyable hidden objects game. Unfortunately, there are games that are too redundant and start to take the fun out of the game, but overall, with a enjoyable mystery storyline and the ability to use three different players makes this game quite enjoyable. Plus, for the low price of “the James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection” triple pack, it definitely makes this set worth buying!
VIDEO GAME TITLE: James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Death in Scarlet (as part of the James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection)
YEAR OF INITIAL RELEASE: August 29, 2008
VIDEO GAME GENRE: Hidden Objects/Interactive Hidden Objects
MEDIA: PC CD-Rom
MEDIUM REQUIREMENTS: Windows Vista, XP
RATINGS: T for Teen
RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2010
VIDEO GAME HIGHLIGHTS:
A morning jog presents a chilling find… and a new wave of fear descends upon San Francisco. In this dramatic new interactive seek-and-find adventure based on author James Patterson’s best-selling novels, you become the detective, medical examiner and journalist as you seek to stop a killer and expose the truth. Featuring nine investigations, brain-bending puzzles, strikingly beautiful artwork and a spine tingling, all-new storyline, Women’s Murder Club: Death in Scarlet will have you racing to the finish to discover the killer.
In 2002, James Patterson released his first “Women’s Murder Club” novel “1st to Die” and since then have created a total of eleven novels.
The novels feature homicide cases and four women who have a group known as “Women’s Murder Club” who work together to solve each murder mystery.
The main protagonist is Inspector Lindsay Boxer who investigates various homicide cases and is aided by her friends Deputy District Attorney Jill Bernhardt (who tries to keep Lindsay within the law and issues the search warrants), Dr. Claire Washburn (who works in the forensics lab) and Cindy Thomas, a journalist at the San Francisco Bee.
In 2008, a ten episode drama series based on the characters aired on ABC and with the popularity of the novels and drama series, hidden objects games were released on the PC/Mac and the Nintendo DS.
For the PC and Mac, a trio of hidden objects games were released: “Death in Scarlet” (2007), “Darker Shade of Grey” (2008) and “Twice in the Blue Moon” (2009) and each were collected in a triple pack titled “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection” in 2010.
The first game in the video game series is “Death in Scarlet” and would feature the work of Jane Jensen (best known for creating the popular “Gabriel Knight” series), who was the designer and director of the “Women’s Murder Club” PC/Mac games.
The story begins with a jogger finding a dead Chinese woman laying near the harbor, as inspector Lindsay Boxer is called in to investigate the homicide, she notices a woman with Chinese characters branded onto her chest. Who is this woman and what are these letters? Also, how did she die as there are no external wounds?
Next thing you know, another woman was found dead and this time it’s the popular Chinese newscaster on television and similar to the earlier death, she also had been branded on her chest and no external wounds.
Now the Women’s Murder Club must work together and try to find out if there is a serial killer on the loose and who is responsible before he/she kills another.
The “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection” was easy to install and had no problems with installation whatsoever. There is one icon that is installed onto your desktop and when selecting the icon, you have a choice to click either of the three games. You can not install each game separately.
“James Patterson Women’s Murder Club – Death in Scarlet” is a hidden objects game with puzzles. You get a chance to play three of the four women. Inspector Lindsay Boxer takes on the homicides and investigates various locations. Hidden objects games if rated 1 for easy, 3 for average and 5 for difficult, this game would probably get a 3.5 or 4 depending one one’s experience with hidden objects games. Part of the challenge is that each chapter, the player is only given 5 hints. So, for those typically use a lot of hints, you have to make sure you use your hints wisely.
Most of the hidden objects were easy for me (as I play a lot of these games) but I admit that some were so small to find that those were the only moments I used my hint button.
The challenges are usually the puzzles. While putting puzzle pieces are easy, one will find certain puzzles challenging and the good news is there is a “solve” button for each puzzle, for those who get easily stumped. I have to admit that I used the “solve” button quite a bit primarily with Dr. Claire Washburn as each time Lindsay takes a blood sample for Dr. Washburn to analyze, you have to go through a redundant process of organizing the bottles (after finding the bottles, petri dishes and eye dropper which are all over her lab) in the correct order. It’s one thing to do a redo a puzzle twice or even three times but in this game, you have to do these re-ordering of bottles quite often and I grew tired of them and ended up hitting “solve”.
Possibly the most entertaining games revolved around journalist Cindy Thomas who got to play a “guess the word” type of slot machine game in order to get a prize in exchange for information from fellow informants. Cindy gets into a lot of interactive puzzles such as controlling Cindy to visit an underground tunnel area to solving a variety of puzzles.
And with the storyline, for each of the three women, you visit and revisit areas to take on various hidden object challenges. And some objects you need to utilize in an investigation or utilize in a puzzle.
As for hours to complete, I say about 5-6 hours at the most. It all comes down to one’s hidden object searching skills but for the most part, this game is accessible for anyone with hidden object video game experience including beginners.
The graphics are very good and are on par with many hidden objects games created back in 2008. The actual storyline is told in a comic book fashion, with panels and word balloons. But the main game is painted characters and scenery.
The music is features a mix between guitar diddly to synth suspense. It’s actually pretty good but for the most part, audio was good, not obstructive during gameplay.
There is no replay value for this game. You beat the game and that is it.
I have been wanting to play the “James Patterson Women’s Murder Club” games for awhile and for the most part, one of the reasons why I wanted to play these games was that I’m a big fan of Jane Jensen’s work.
While I enjoyed the storyline of “Death in Scarlet” and its various twists and turns, part of what hampered this game a bit were the redundant games, especially involving Dr. Clarie Washburn’s bottles for blood testing.
There was just too much of it and I understand that her character is typically stuck in the forensics lab and most of the time you are doing blood tests but it started to become too redundant for my tastes that I skipped them by hitting “solve”. It was fine for the first four or five times but when it started happening more often, I grew tired of it.
Otherwise I did enjoy the hidden objects part of the game and the challenge of only being given five hints per chapter. While I didn’t have to use the hint button all that much, there were times were objects were just too small and I found myself having to get the monitor so close to my eyes, so I can see in the darker rooms.
I noticed that the TV series tend to focus on the women’s social lives outside of their career, I would expect the novels to probably do the same but “Death in Scarlet” focuses on the case and never strays away from it. It’s about four women working together to solve a crime and that’s it.
While there is no replay factor in my opinion, for an earlier hidden object game, it was good but not great. It definitely had a better storyline than some (including a longer ending, although I felt that it ended a bit abruptly on the final reveal) hidden objects games which tend to not put much towards the final scene. And there was quite a bit of a challenge as the hidden objects and puzzles were also a bit challenging. And also, the ability to play three different characters was also quite fun!
And with the price of the triple pack at under $10, for three games that last quite awhile and are not too easy or too difficult, it’s definitely worth purchasing “the James Patterson Women’s Murder Club Collection”.
For “Death in Scarlet”, I give it a RATING: B-