I’ve spent the past few days playing the old Ravenhearst game. I got the original ten years ago, when for a short while I subscribed to monthly games. I still have 4 credits leftover at big fish games so I redeemed a credit for the sequel. And then they had a sale so I got #3 and #4.
I like playing these hidden object games on the mba, not so much on the ipad. Not merely because the screen is bigger so the great graphics can be seen better. There are too many ads and restrictions for the ipad versions–they make you wait for hours or even a day to replenish lives, or give hints, or other in-game features. There are no distractions or in-game cash grab for the mac games. The only problem is the mba heats up like crazy with these flash games. I can ignore it, but I make myself stop and logout after a while.
The first Ravenhearst game is pretty simple: mostly hidden objects with a few puzzles and solving the crime by completing jigsaw puzzles. Straight-forward gameplay and the puzzles are interesting. I didn’t pay that much attention to the diary entries that are supposed to be central to solving the crime; just finding the objects and finishing the crime computer jigsaw puzzles moved the game forward. The only notes I had to make was to remember the location of various keys in the different rooms.
Ravenhearst #2, or Return to Ravenhearst, is more sophisticated. Still hidden objects, but the crime and puzzle-solving elements taking more centre stage. Lots of rooms and areas to explore, I almost had to draw a map to remember all the locations; I’d go down to a basement and there is an entire street with shops and, hey, a dark cave. It’s fun to explore, and the puzzles were varied and challenging. One of my favourite games.
I’ve just started #3, Escape from Ravenhearst. It’s very different and I’m not 100% liking it. The hidden object element is now morphing objects: there’s no list of objects to find, we have to identify random objects that change form. After a couple of scenes, I have the hang of it and find that they are on par with traditional hidden objects. What I have trouble with, is the story and gameplay. As in #2, there are lots of different locations, some hidden, and it’s part of the puzzle to open up a new area. The problem with #3 is, I’ve found myself finishing a puzzle and then I don’t know where to go or do next. No new areas, no new clues.
The second complaint is the puzzles, they are not obvious. With the previous games, I could sense what I need to do to solve the puzzle. With #3, I’d open up a scene and have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. Give an example, in #2 there was a puzzle where I had to switch numbers on a dial so they were in the right order; there was also a whack-a-mole game and I figured out hitting red moles took away points. In #3, I zoomed into a dial that had 3 push levers and there’s nothing to tell me what I should be aiming to do. I’m also having to constantly write down notes of random numbers and letters I’m seeing, they aren’t stored in the casebook and there are no clues about where they may be used. Way, way too obscure. I don’t want to read through the walkthrough constantly, but that’s what I have been doing.
I’m only around halfway done with #3 and reading the reviews make me go ‘hmm’ because the storyline is dark. The locations include a creepy hospital, a horrible house and a mental institution. Not sunshine and flowers this one. There’s always been a supernatural element to the series but in addition to the macabre twist the ghosts who appear in #3 are not helpful, all they say are “don’t come here, you’re in danger!” Duh, yes. That’s why I’m playing the game, do they want me to hit the quit button? I’ll work on finishing it slowly.