Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove is the latest incarnation of Big Fish’s Mystery Case File series. Returning once again to the snow covered village of Dire Grove, you the Master Detective must uncover the cause of the mysterious curse and put an end to it before war breaks out between the hunters of the village and the forest dwelling Mistwalkers.
Before entering the game, players are given the option to choose between a male and female master detective character, a choice that ultimately has no effect on the outcome of the game. With this being said, although this option felt somewhat strange for a point and click adventure game to include, it’s a very nice addition to the game, to help the player further take on the master detective persona.
Following this, players are then offered the choice of five different difficultly levels including: Casual Hunter, Experienced Pathfinder, Hardcore Trapper, Wise Druid and Master Detective. Depending on the players choice the difficulty level will affect the amount of help the game provides and the time between available hints. Although usually this is a feature quickly skipped through by players, it is one that will surely come back to haunt you as Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove sees even harder and more complex puzzles than the ones found within its predecessors. As good as you are at puzzles, it is always useful to have a couple of hints ready for those rare moments when you get stuck.
Like any good point and click adventure, what makes Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove is the hidden objects and the large intricate puzzles. With so many different environments within the game to explore, you not only have to have a very keen eye, discovering where each of the hidden objects are, but you also have to have a good memory, remembering where previously unaccessible objects were for when you finally discover a way to get to them.
Each of the large end of chapter style puzzles also requires a keen eye, as well as a good problem-solving mind. With such a variety of puzzles included in the game, such as reassembling a torn document, or working your way through a series of linked tasks that need to be completed in a specific order, I often found myself wanting to hurry through the story elements to the challenging and provoking puzzle elements. Going from a feature that felt very thoughtout and necessary to the game, you ultimately have to address the weaknesses within the characters and main storyline.
With an intriguing premise, surrounding ancient curses and dangerous animals, the return to Dire Grove seemed like a familiar setting for a worthwhile and challenging new mystery. This however wasn’t the case. The somewhat strange assortment of accents found within this typically rural northern village, took you out of the immersive atmosphere that the soundtrack and stunning environments had so aptly created.
Although weak in certain areas, Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove ultimately has the feel of a Mystery Case Files game, clearly following in the line of the previous games. It also knows when and how to play to its strengths, bringing together a selection of fun and interesting environments and puzzles, along with combinable hidden objects and assorted collectibles.
For fans of point and click mystery adventures or the previous Mystery Case Files Games, this latest instalment is for you. However, for those not so used to this genre and style of gameplay, you may find it quite difficult to stick with for the entire journey.