Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove
"The only other sound's the sweep, of easy wind and downy flake. " There's something strange and wonderful about wandering the forest at night during a snowfall. The hiss of the flakes as they accumulate, the crunch of your footsteps as you perambulate, the howl of the wolves that are dogging your every step...On second thought, maybe wandering the woods at night in the midst of a snowstorm isn't a particularly good idea. Especially if the woods are the sacred Celtic area around the tiny town of Dire Grove in Elephant Games' latest addition to the Mystery Case Files adventure hybrid collection, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove. This sequel brings you back to the chilly burg of Dire Grove, which is once again in the throes of an unseasonal deep freeze along with a severe case of "When Animals Attack". This time around you will actually meet some of the inhabitants of Dire Grove as you work to solve the mystery of what is causing the freak snowstorms and the wild animal problems. Does it have something to do with the Druids, the Mistwalkers, or did the locals manage to do something to trigger the whole thing? Point-and-click your way through the gorgeous winter scenery to solve the mystery with the help of a lot of puzzle solving and hidden object finding.
Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove is packed with tons of gameplay, eerie music and gorgeous scenery, all of the things we expect from a Mystery Case Files game. While the pristine backgrounds seem to have lost a little of their mystique from the original game with the addition of the hunters, the druids, and the wolves, the gameplay has actually improved tremendously. The one complaint about Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove was the paucity and simplicity of the puzzles. Elephant games has packed the sequel with tons more including the addition of those fabulous multi-layered Rube Goldberg-esque door puzzles that so delighted (or annoyed) fans of the original Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst. A map that not only shows areas of interest but also allows for instant transportation makes for smooth and easy exploration of this deadly little tourist trap.
So how does this stand up to the original? The backgrounds and scenery are as gorgeous as ever, and while the story and the characters have moved from intriguing live-action to slightly more cheesy animation, the gameplay more than makes up for it. The hidden object scenes contain multiple little mini-games to keep them fresh, and the more complex puzzles keep the gameplay engaging. And as is expected with any Mystery Case Files game there are multiple little side quests like finding the hidden puzzle pieces or collecting miniatures of the town buildings. In addition to five different modes of gameplay, including a dastardly timed mode that can only be unlocked after the first playthrough, there is an exciting new feature that allows the player to choose the gender of their mystery case files detective, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the experience of playing. Lush and exciting, chilly and mysterious, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove shows once again why the Mystery Case Files games are the leaders in the field. Once again prepare to be chilled to the bone! "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Note: Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes wallpapers, music, cut-scenes, concept art, extra gameplay, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.
Download the demo Order the full version
Mac OS X:
Download the demo Order the full version
YES! MCF! YAAAAAAAA!
M! C! F!
M! C! F!
M! C! F!
Hi, grinnyp! Thanks for the great review! I wanted to ask, though: have you played Mystery Case Files: Fate's Carnival (MCF: FC)? If so, how would you say Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove (MCF: DGSG) compares to it? MCF: FC is, in my opinion, the best MCF game ever made besides MCF: Return to Ravenhearst, and after playing the demo for MCF: DGSG, I'm hesitant to buy it since it feels so different -- the story, I mean. (What I'm going to say next is a spoiler for gameplay and storylines in multiple MCF games, so I'm putting it in spoiler code.)
The MCF games have always had elements of the supernatural, but it's always been mostly about ghosts, with attempts to gain eternal life and Madame Fate's psychic visions thrown in. MCF: DGSG appears to deal more with some kind nature god who's mad at humans for not respecting both him and nature, and so is punishing them with a literally killer cold snap (which, in my opinion, seriously clashes with the Mistwalkers' assertion that this "god" is merciful, not to mention that he's doing a ton of damage to nature all by himself). So this game's storyline, and thereby atmosphere, I would think, is quite different from any of the other MCF games.
So I guess my question could be thus summarized: in your opinion, are the storyline, atmosphere, and conclusion/ending of MCF: DGSG on par with MCF: FC? My experience with Elephant Games' offerings is that they have a couple of hits followed by a bunch of misses, and so I'd just like to get your opinion on this. Thanks in advance! :)
Spoiler alert: this entire comment will deal with themes from the game, but in what I hope is a vague enough way to not be an actual spoiler.
I didn't enjoy Fate's Carnival as much as the rest of the series. When Elephant Games took over, they added a lot of hand-holding that took away from some of the exploration element. The map feature in particular, with the "here's your next goal" marker, really hurts the gameplay and immersion; without it, you're exploring a place that +
3might exist in the real world, and using your own brain to pull disparate elements together in meaningful ways. (Now where was that toolbox, again? How do I get to the garage?) With the map, it's just a series of static images. (OK, I clicked everything here, now click the map to click everything on a different screen.)
As for the mistwalkers and their god, well, I don't know how philosophical you want to get, but most gods will punish an entire group of people for the major transgressions of an individual; in this case, it's being used as a way of informing the people that something bad has happened. Specifically, as a nature god, it's more about the ego of nature than a directed divine rebuke. (Is that sentence pompous enough ;-) )When nature falls out of balance, ecosystems suffer not to punish the litterer but as a natural consequence of toxins being introduced to the system. Similarly, when you piss off a nature spirit, his displeasure affects the local environment. The bitterness of winter IS his anger, not IS CAUSED BY his anger.
Pontificating aside, I liked this better than Fate's Carnival. The area layout feels more plausible, largely because you are able to walk to almost every location; a significant chunk of Fate's Carnival locations forced you to use the map to jump there.
However, I would have preferred that more of the items made sense; there are several times when useful things are in places that it makes no sense for them to be. One of the best parts of the pre-Elephant Games MCFs was the fact that the useful stuff you find is almost always something that you would expect -- in the circumstances -- to find there. With these last two games, I wouldn't be surprised if they'd expected me to get the screwdriver by ignoring the toolbox in the garage and instead ripping open the turkey that's still roasting in the oven.
Despite my complaints, I really did enjoy this game. It feels much closer to "classic" MCF, and it's entirely possible that a lot of my negativity comes from resistance to change. It's been great to get back to the carnival, and to Dire Grove; now that Elephant Games has had a chance to get their bearings in the MCF universe, may we expect a new location soon?
Thanks for the wonderful and informative reply, ChairmanMUHC! It helped a lot! :D
With the alternate ending, i noticed on the map view that there were 3 sites around the hotel which were marked as undiscovered. in gameplay when i tried to backtrack to the hotel it said there was no point going back to the hotel. was there some hidden content there which i didn't access?