Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate is a brand new hidden object game just released in the Mystery Case Files series. This installment drops you in a carnival where the fortune teller Madame Fate has seen something troubling in her crystal ball. At the stroke of midnight she will be killed, but which carnival character will commit the act? Maybe it's the bearded lady? Or is it the strong man? The sword swallower? Gather clues about the carnies by finding hidden items and solving puzzles throughout the dark and mysterious circus.
The item hunting genre should be familiar to most casual gamers by now, and Mystery Case Files is one of the most widely-recognized names out there. You are presented with a number of different scenes, each with dozens of objects cleverly hidden amongst the clutter. A list sits at the right showing what items you need to find. All you need to do is check the list, hunt for the item, and click when you find it. You have a generous time limit that gets depleted if you click too fast, so keep your cool and use your limited hints wisely.
To keep the object finding from becoming stale, Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate tosses a few other puzzles your way from time to time. Most are word-based brainteasers that have you unscrambling tiles or creating words from a set of letters. You'll also have to decipher the occasional riddle (similar to those found in Forgotten Riddles: The Mayan Princess) and manipulate objects on the screen to match the solution. For example, the list item "hole in one" may refer to something golf-related, or it may have something to do with the bullet laying on the desk and the gun pointing at the number one. Why not drag the bullet over there and find out?
One interesting new feature in Madame Fate are stages within stages. Certain scenes will have a glowing area you can click on to enter a brand new area with hidden objects to find. It doesn't change the gameplay very much, but it does add a nice adventure flavor to the mix.
Analysis: When considering a new entry in a well-established genre, the main question that arises is this: does it bring anything new to the table? The answer in this case is a resounding "yes". Madame Fate boasts a great new setting that's filled with intrigue. Who doesn't like a good old fashioned carnival, complete with a bearded lady? The actual item hunting is standard fare, but the Mystery Case Files series has always featured top-notch production values. The word puzzles you have to complete are fairly easy, but they serve their purpose well and break up the pixel scrutinizing at just the right time.
More hidden object puzzles is almost always a good thing, and the Mystery Case Files series does it extraordinarily well. It doesn't get better than this!