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Casual Games

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I downloaded the demo of Witch’s Legacy: Charlston Curse I’m glad the scene with the doorknob was part of the demo, so that I saw what you were talking about. I finished the 60-minute demo with eighteen minutes to spare. I’m not sure what that tells me.

I thought the voice acting was a little forced, that is the voice of the little girl didn’t sound like a little girl. It sounded very much like an adult trying to sound like a little girl, and not succeeding. Everything else seemed pretty good. But, just like my last demo review, nothing jumped out at me and said, “You’ve got to get this game!” So it will go into my file of games to get when BFG has a really great sale.

Thanks for your review. We might not have the same opinion of the game, but it certainly made me want to give it a try. Again, my thoughts are based solely on playing the demo.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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I just finished F.A.C.E.S.  I thought it was an enjoyable game, overall.  Its best point by far is the story.  I won’t spoil it, but I will highlight one interesting gameplay element related to the story.  You play as a person with the special ability to enter the world of a photograph and bring an object out of it.  When I started the game and got to that point, I was very excited as I hoped it would introduce a very interesting new mechanic.  However, I think that aspect of the game/story was underutilized in the end.  As for the rest, the setting is your standard abandoned asylum/hospital.  There are a couple of unique puzzles in the game.  Both the puzzles and HOS are fairly easy.  The artwork is standard.  The music is appropriate.  Interestingly, the music was very reminiscent in style to the music in 999.  I don’t know if it was the music or what, but because of this I found the game similar in many ways to 999.  My biggest complaint about the game is there just aren’t a lot of different rooms/screens, and they all look pretty similar.  There’s also a whole lot of backtracking going up and down the same floors on an elevator (no map quick move option).  In summary, the story is great (though it ends with the ubiquitous cliffhanger with no sequel yet).  However, taken as a whole, I would consider it an average game overall.

     
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I agree that “Witch’s Legacy: Charlston Curse” isn’t the greatest game.
I had a punch credit available. And ready for an easy game.
Fortunately that little girl doesn’t show up very ofter.

     
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I just finally got around to playing the most recent Mystery Case Files: Escape from Ravenhearst.  To get ready, I went back and replayed Ravenhearst and Return to Ravenhearst.  What a fantastic game this was.  First, the story was great.  I think this makes a great Halloween game as well because this is definitely one of the darkest and disturbing games I’ve played, casual or otherwise.  After replaying the other two games, the attention to detail and the references made to the prior games in the series are just outstanding.  It’s great to revisit locations from the prior game, but now in high res widescreen graphics.  I enjoyed the morphing objects, but I’ll discuss that below.  The graphics and music are top notch.  Some of the animations (I’m thinking of arms waving keeping you out of an asylum corridor) are among the best I’ve seen in any game of this sort.  Once again, Big Fish is great at coming up with unique puzzles.  I can’t remember a single puzzle in this game that I had seen somewhere else.  Some of them can be quite difficult as well.  I was very happy to see the return of the complicated door lock puzzles that were more prominent in the first game.  Overall, the production quality is of the highest order and is really unmatched in the genre.  So, in the end, I found this to be one of the best casual games I’ve ever played, definitely in the top 5 ever without a doubt.  Highly recommended.  Which brings me to. . .

The interesting reviews on the BFG website.  As people have pointed out before, the reviews are generally useless, since almost every game gets 4 or 5 star reviews and comes recommended.  Not this game: it has an average of 3 stars.  I suppose I could look around the site, but I doubt you will find a game on the BFG website with a lower average score.  What gives?  I think a few things are going on.  First, the game is dark and has some disturbing situations.  Most casual games are “dark”, but they’re the kind of dark that I wouldn’t mind my kids watching me play.  Not this game.  Second, I think the morphing HOS instead of the traditional HOS really threw a lot of people off.  And, I think the reason for this is: they’re freaking hard!  I never skip HOS or puzzles in games; in this game, I could pretty easily find the first half of the objects in the first minute.  The next few came more slowly.  But, the last object to find in each scene was usually a beast!  I wouldn’t be surprised if I spent 5-10 minutes trying to find a few of these things.  The designers are geniuses at creating background animations to throw you off (imagine how much better they could get at this with time).  Third, the puzzles are way above average difficulty for these types of games.  I never looked at the journal, so I don’t know how much may have been given away in it, but without looking at the journal, some of the puzzles are a real bear.  However, they were accompanied with that kind of “a-ha!” moment that you get not infrequently in real adventure games but essentially never in casual games.  So, I think that the biggest reason this game isn’t more popular with the BFG reviewers is the difficulty.  This game has much more in common with a regular adventure game than a casual game. 

So, what did people in the forum think?  I suspect the contributors to this forum are different from the people who write reviews on the BFG website.  I’m very curious to hear what people think, because I definitely think this was one of the best “casual” games ever. 

And, while I love other developers (such as Alawar), this just continues to go to show you that there is Big Fish Studios and then there is everyone else.  It’s just a different league.

     
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The game didn’t cater completely to the female audience, which majority of the HO games are made for. Thats why MCF got rated as so. MCF is made for gamers in general looking for an indepth casual experience.

     

Stuart Bradley Newsom - Naughty Shinobi || Our Game: Shadow Over Isolation

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I thought the game was excellent as well. And I also agree with Monolith’s observation. Another thing: while we might not like the conclusion, many of the more sophisticated Casual adventures such as the Drawn and Ravenhurst series do have a “conclusiveness” to them. Much more than the standard Casual conclusion which usually consists of nothing more than a duke thanking you for your services in a bad Italian accent, then cut to credits. Maybe this is what the average BFG reviewer wants. Come to think of it, I don’t think the Drawn series got great reviews either. As beautiful as it was, the player had to deal with graphic concepts which had never been done before in the Casual arena. And it might be worth looking at the reviews for games such as Dire Grove, (also a BFG Studios product.) Not as difficult as the others mentioned, but a real challenge that might not have been to the liking of the average BFG reviewer.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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rtrooney - 14 October 2012 07:14 PM

And it might be worth looking at the reviews for games such as Dire Grove, (also a BFG Studios product.) Not as difficult as the others mentioned, but a real challenge that might not have been to the liking of the average BFG reviewer.

For what it’s worth, BFG don’t list their worst-reviewed games (obviously), but they do list the games with the highest user reviews.  Dire Grove is actually number 4 on the all time best list, the highest MCF game on the list.  So, I don’t know.  I’m just glad to see that people on the forum here shared my opinion of the game.  I also hope these things don’t sway Big Fish Studios’ design choices.  I can’t wait to see what they do with the next MCF title.

     
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Interplay - 15 October 2012 05:47 PM
rtrooney - 14 October 2012 07:14 PM

And it might be worth looking at the reviews for games such as Dire Grove, (also a BFG Studios product.) Not as difficult as the others mentioned, but a real challenge that might not have been to the liking of the average BFG reviewer.

For what it’s worth, BFG don’t list their worst-reviewed games (obviously), but they do list the games with the highest user reviews.  Dire Grove is actually number 4 on the all time best list, the highest MCF game on the list.  So, I don’t know.  I’m just glad to see that people on the forum here shared my opinion of the game.  I also hope these things don’t sway Big Fish Studios’ design choices.  I can’t wait to see what they do with the next MCF title.

There was actually an announcement about that today - new title due this Thanksgiving to be called MCF: Shadow Lake and featuring actress Lea Thompson, along with her daughter:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/49414021

     
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AprilRyan - 15 October 2012 06:36 PM
Interplay - 15 October 2012 05:47 PM
rtrooney - 14 October 2012 07:14 PM

And it might be worth looking at the reviews for games such as Dire Grove, (also a BFG Studios product.) Not as difficult as the others mentioned, but a real challenge that might not have been to the liking of the average BFG reviewer.

For what it’s worth, BFG don’t list their worst-reviewed games (obviously), but they do list the games with the highest user reviews.  Dire Grove is actually number 4 on the all time best list, the highest MCF game on the list.  So, I don’t know.  I’m just glad to see that people on the forum here shared my opinion of the game.  I also hope these things don’t sway Big Fish Studios’ design choices.  I can’t wait to see what they do with the next MCF title.

There was actually an announcement about that today - new title due this Thanksgiving to be called MCF: Shadow Lake and featuring actress Lea Thompson, along with her daughter:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/49414021

Excellent news! Grin

     

Stuart Bradley Newsom - Naughty Shinobi || Our Game: Shadow Over Isolation

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AprilRyan - 15 October 2012 06:36 PM

There was actually an announcement about that today - new title due this Thanksgiving to be called MCF: Shadow Lake and featuring actress Lea Thompson, along with her daughter:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/49414021

This sounds awesome!

As an aside, I was looking at a list of Big Fish Studios’ games.  I’ve played all the Drawn’s and almost all of the MCF games.  But their last other franchise is the Hidden Expedition games.  I don’t think I’ve played any of these.  Do people recommend these?  Do they match the quality of MCF and Drawn?

Lastly, for those who haven’t played it, MCF: 13th Skull is the Deal of the Week at BFG.  On sale for $2.99.  You don’t have to be a member.

     
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Another decent series on the trail of MCF was the Mystery Trackers games. The last one, Mystery Trackers: Four Aces, felt a lot like the MCF game series. Full motion video, voice acting, decent amount of HOG (not too many to make it excessive) and pretty good puzzles. Check out the demo. Grin Haven’t played the previous game in the series yet though.

     

Stuart Bradley Newsom - Naughty Shinobi || Our Game: Shadow Over Isolation

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I’ve played Raincliff and The Void. Both are decent games. I preferred the latter. Not because it was a “better” game, but because there was less walking involved.

This is an add-on to the above post. I guess when there hasn’t been a comment, you can edit freely. I downloaded the Four Aces demo. It is very reminiscent of Raincliff. As far as scenery is concerned, it’s like putting a new coat of paint on an old door. I’ve seen these alleys before.

Mystery Trackers is not a Big Fish Studio production. The game is produced by Elephant Games which is not a bad thing. I don’t know whether the demo was timed, or whether when you reach a certain point, it’s over. If it was the latter, I didn’t reach that point. I watched most of the cut scenes, which were very good, and that wasted a bundle of playing time.

Because it is an Elephant Game buying a CE is really a waste of money. I played one against the other, and there is nothing, other than puzzle solutions, that you can’t get by hitting the Hint button. Although, and this seems to be a problem with Elephant Games games, the puzzle objective isn’t always clear.

This is going into my definitely buy list as soon as the SE is available.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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rtrooney - 17 October 2012 05:07 PM

I’ve played Raincliff and The Void. Both are decent games. I preferred the latter. Not because it was a “better” game, but because there was less walking involved.

This is an add-on to the above post. I guess when there hasn’t been a comment, you can edit freely. I downloaded the Four Aces demo. It is very reminiscent of Raincliff. As far as scenery is concerned, it’s like putting a new coat of paint on an old door. I’ve seen these alleys before.

Mystery Trackers is not a Big Fish Studio production. The game is produced by Elephant Games which is not a bad thing. I don’t know whether the demo was timed, or whether when you reach a certain point, it’s over. If it was the latter, I didn’t reach that point. I watched most of the cut scenes, which were very good, and that wasted a bundle of playing time.

Because it is an Elephant Game buying a CE is really a waste of money. I played one against the other, and there is nothing, other than puzzle solutions, that you can’t get by hitting the Hint button. Although, and this seems to be a problem with Elephant Games games, the puzzle objective isn’t always clear.

This is going into my definitely buy list as soon as the SE is available.

Well I can say that story wise, the Additional Game does continue the story through a part of foreshadowing within the story. You do meet a conclusion in the main game, but the epilogue tends to finish any plot holes…then again, I didn’t play it because I like my games contained in one play through. It feels like I put in all my energy into the game only to find out there is another game to play. It annoys me, but I do give it a chance to see what the addition offers.

     

Stuart Bradley Newsom - Naughty Shinobi || Our Game: Shadow Over Isolation

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Sorry, I haven’t had much to post lately. I’ve been very busy with holiday time and RL, so as soon as I start having spare time to play some games, I’ll contribute more. I do read the boards and this thread regulary, so please keep up the comments.

     
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rtrooney - 17 October 2012 05:07 PM

I’ve played Raincliff and The Void. Both are decent games. I preferred the latter. Not because it was a “better” game, but because there was less walking involved.

This is an add-on to the above post. I guess when there hasn’t been a comment, you can edit freely. I downloaded the Four Aces demo. It is very reminiscent of Raincliff. As far as scenery is concerned, it’s like putting a new coat of paint on an old door. I’ve seen these alleys before.

Mystery Trackers is not a Big Fish Studio production. The game is produced by Elephant Games which is not a bad thing. I don’t know whether the demo was timed, or whether when you reach a certain point, it’s over. If it was the latter, I didn’t reach that point. I watched most of the cut scenes, which were very good, and that wasted a bundle of playing time.

Because it is an Elephant Game buying a CE is really a waste of money. I played one against the other, and there is nothing, other than puzzle solutions, that you can’t get by hitting the Hint button. Although, and this seems to be a problem with Elephant Games games, the puzzle objective isn’t always clear.

This is going into my definitely buy list as soon as the SE is available.

I look forward to trying Four Aces when the SE eventually goes on sale.  As far as the other games, I haven’t played the third Mystery Trackers game (I’m not sure of the name off the top of my head).  I’ve played The Void and Raincliff.  I much preferred Raincliff (I think I may have written a mini-review for it earlier).  I liked the story in The Void a lot, but the game is just way, way too easy even by casual game standards.  Both the HOS and the puzzles are very simple.  What I found most annoying about the game, though, is that the plot is advanced almost entirely within the journal.  You will pick up a piece of paper, but it won’t let you read the paper without going to the journal.  If you don’t read the journal, then you can finish the entire game without knowing what is going on or what the plot is.  The reason this is not good is because the journal explicitly gives away the answers to all of the puzzles as well.  As I’ve gone over in an earlier long post, this is just unacceptable game design and really hurt the game.  Normally, because of this I would consider The Void a below average game, but because of the story, I’ll give it an average rating.  Raincliff improved a lot on these problems, so it was definitely the better game, imo (though I like The Void‘s story better).  Anyway, I do plan to play the latter two games at some point.

P.S. BFG have really been killing me lately with these pop-up offers that show up after I purchase a game.  I will usually get one of the deals for $2.99 and then there will be a pop-up offer for a different game for $3.99.  I usually can’t resist since I go through these games so frequently.  BFG are approaching Steam in the evil genius category.

     

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