Game Reviews

MCF: Return to Ravenhearst

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MCF: Return to Ravenhearst

In much the same way that freemium games tend not to mention in their blurbs how often you'll need top your Energy to keep playing, hidden-object games rarely mention that every couple of minutes you'll have to stop what you're doing and look for a - typically random - kettle in a haystack.

Return to Ravenhearst only hints at its true nature, by stressing that you'll be "seeking out clues in over 150 detailed scenes". Its blurb places a far greater emphasis on storyline and puzzle-solving.

This is a smart move, as the game's gently spine-tingling atmosphere and ghostly tale are infinitely more appealing than its object-hunting gameplay.

Back from the dead, again

Although this fifth instalment in the Mystery Case Files series landed on PCs back in 2008, the Android port still looks rather sharp - especially on a tablet, where the Gothic artwork and neat animated touches, like bugs crawling over your notes, are given room to shine.

The story is engaging too. You play as an avenging detective asked by the spirit of ghost you saved two games ago to return to Ravenhearst and free the other souls trapped there. You need to be quick, as the ghost of the murderous owner is planning to reappear and wreak more havoc from beyond the grave.

To solve the case, you need to move from static scene to static scene, collecting objects from glowing piles - a task that's best done by simple tapping all over the screen a few times rather than going to the trouble of straining your eyes - and opening countless locked doors.

Some of these puzzles can be solved on the spot, using levers, wires, and other gizmos to match patterns or create connections, but many involve gathering items to fill in missing slots beforehand.

Killing the challenge

For a game that's so accessible and casual that it lets you solve half its logic puzzles by simply skipping them, there's a strangely mean streak running through Return to Ravenhearst.

As with every adventure game ever, you'll be testing out objects in your inventory on interactive bits of scenery. It feels a bit galling to be berated for doing this at every turn. Almost every combination you try will see an insult hurled at you.

Fortunately, it's easy to ignore the nasty in-game narration and just plough on with the adequate, occasionally innovative puzzles and ghostly chats that fans of the hidden object genre will relish. Real adventurers, meanwhile, will need to search elsewhere for their point-and-click kicks.

MCF: Return to Ravenhearst

A highly polished entry in the hidden object ghost story canon that casual puzzlers will adore. Hidden object haters, meanwhile, would be best off haunting another corner of Google Play
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo