Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst has the distinction of the first hidden object game I’ve ever reviewed. I had no basis for comparison, so little did I know I reviewed one of the best games of its genre. Since then, I’ve also checked out Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate surpasses its four predecessors and the Mystery Case Files (MCF) series continues to push the genre to new levels.
In this one, Madame Fate, the fortune teller, believes someone is going to kill her at midnight and she asks for your help. It’s not that her fortune telling abilities don’t work, but rather she needs you to find hidden items or clues from the 15 carnival employees. These items help Madame Fate use her crystal ball to see each person’s fate at midnight.
As she reveals the fate of each carnival worker, it also helps remove that person as a suspect in her possible death. But before she can do that, you go to work in solving a “crystal ball puzzle” with no direction or clues. I adore these puzzles, which resemble the locked door puzzles in Ravenhearst. They’re the best part of the game. They even attract my eight-year-old son’s attention as he joins me in solving them.
Another neat twist is that every location doesn’t mean you’ll go a-hunting for 10 or so hidden objects. Some scenes have a mini-game that usually has something to do with words. It could be rearranging jumbled letters to create two words that are opposites, creating 10 four-lettered words from the given letters, or playing a hangman-style game to find three words describing the carnival worker plus a couple of others.
After solving the puzzle and gaining access to the suspect’s room, you search for 10 to 15 of two different items. These items range from the letters B and L to magic wands and lipstick. While doing that, you might have to keep an eye out for the morphing object — a new feature in the MCF series. Morphing objects such as a beagle changing into a terrier and back appear in random scenes — you know which scenes have them because of the purple question mark symbol that appears on the map of the carnival.
Madame Fate also introduces a scene within a scene. Some locales have another scene that you can only access through the specific locale. You know there’s a second scene when the number of hidden clues is higher than normal and the sparkles that appear on the scene to indicate the location of the hidden scene.
As picturesque the scenes are and the audio fitting to the theme, the game isn’t without quibbles. You can find the right object, but it takes precise clicking for the game to register the selection for some objects especially the smaller ones. The hint system could be a little better. While it’s nice the game doesn’t straight out and point to the object you’re trying to find, the circle could be smaller.
This one is also a problem in Ravenhearst — sometimes one puzzle hint isn’t enough, but if you click for a second hint — the game provides the same hint as the first and you’ve wasted a hint. You can also call the hotline to pass through a puzzle that annoys you. I also missed a few morphing objects because I forgot about them — there isn’t a way to find them without starting over.
You can unlock three scenes when you find enough of the mysterious changing objects. I unlocked two scenes and can’t seem to access them or do anything. The ending is also a disappointment like Ravenhearst. But the journey of getting there is worth it with the intriguing story, beautiful graphics, and clever puzzles. I couldn’t help but stay up late because I couldn’t exit the Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate‘s enchantment. Or did Madame Fate have something to do with it? <creepy evil laughter>
System Requirements: Windows
- Windows 2000/XP/Vista
- 800 MHz or faster processor
- 512 MB RAM
- DirectX 7.0 MB or later