An ancient Celtic artifact was uncovered in the isolated hamlet of Dire Grove, in the United Kingdom. A group of American graduate researchers travels to the location to find the truth about the legends of the region, but are never heard or seen again. After successfully solving the mysteries of the haunted Ravenhearst state, an investigator is hired to search for the missing students, finding a video camera and tapes shot by them scattered around the desolate, frozen landscape surrounding the abandoned hotel that was their campsite.Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove
is the most ambitious entry in the Mystery Cases series by Big Fish Games
so far. Instead of being a pure hidden object game like the first titles, the game follows the recent trend of inserting hidden object screens within a classic point-and-click adventure design, with a drag-and-drop inventory and simple puzzles tailored for the casual market. One big addition from the preceding Ravenhearst
game is the inclusion of full-motion video clips with live actors that take almost half of the screen. They can be found as VHS tapes laying around the many locations of the game, and played on the crime computer to develop the plot further.
The scenes are presented as a series of mostly static screens with snowfall and other short animations added as atmospheric effects. The player navigates through the locations by placing the cursor on the edges or on obvious openings like holes and doors, where the cursor becomes a golden arrow that can be clicked to move to the next room. Some portions of the scenery shimmer to indicate the existence of one of the hidden object screens on a particular spot.
The hidden object sections take place on separate screens, where the objective is to find and click on all the items listed at the bottom. The hint button at the bottom-right shows the position of one of the required objects when activated, but takes some time to recharge after use. After collecting all the list entries, one of the objects is stored inside the inventory to be used later when solving puzzles.
The inventory can be accessed directly, by moving the cursor to the bottom of the screen to make a series of slots appear, that can be scrolled left or right with the interface arrows. Like in most adventure games, the objects have to be dragged and dropped on logical places of the scenery to solve puzzles and perform actions. For example, a key can be used on a lock open a door. A journal keeps track of any information needed to solve some of the puzzles, acting as general guide to the game. Some of the puzzles take place on self-contained screens, where a mechanism of some sort has to be manipulated directly to solve them.
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