Most games on the Google Play Store are pretty simple. Level based games with a simple premise for people who only want to play a few minutes at a time. Thankfully, more and more games are being released that are more of a gaming experience and less of a time wasting flash game. Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst is one of these. Of course, if you'd rather watch than read, our video review is at the bottom.
Return to Ravenhearst plays like an old school puzzle or sleuth game. To move around, players tap on the screen in the direction they want to go. The next screen will load in the new position. So there is no real movement, but more slideshow. Each screen has a number of things that players can interact with. As the player progresses through the game, back pedaling to an earlier part to solve an old obstacle happens quite consistently.
Game play is driven by two events. There are scavenger hunt mini games where players find 12 to 16 items on a list and are then rewarded with an item for their inventory. To play into that wheelhouse, the entire game itself is a giant puzzle that is solved with the items earned from these mini games. Players can also earn inventory items by seeing them on the ground.
Between the scavenger hunts and the whole game being a puzzle, there is always something to do. Clues lay strewn about everywhere as do inventory items. If you have trouble figuring out what to do next, there is a hint system that will give you clues as to what to do next. This sounds cheap, but the clues aren't as obvious as one would think. There is also a game log that will describe everything that's happened so gamers can keep up with what they found.
The graphics and sound in Return to Ravenhearst are actually pretty good. In terms of graphics, it's nothing ground breaking but everything is very crisp and clear. Adding to that, there are portions of the game where an object also happens to be melted into another object and the developers did a great job making everything melt together. Scavenger hunts is the best example of this, as practically nothing just pops out. Inventory items in Return to Ravenhearst blend right into the background, so it's never really obvious what you're supposed to pick up.
The sound compliments the game play and graphics very well. Almost everything that can be interacted with has its own sound effects and there is always a creepy music playing in the background. Along with the dark setting and the graphics, Return to Ravenhearst is a truly creeptastic experience. Not enough to cause nightmares, but enough that you'll be able to get into it when playing in a dark, quiet room. After all, atmosphere is everything when playing games!
Return to Ravenhearst is a long game that will take a long time to complete. Unlike many games on the Google Play Store, which feature easy, quick levels, Return to Ravenhearst is one big long game. Much like a console or PC game. Once you start, you can save but it's pretty much a straight run from beginning to end. This means that once it's done, there really isn't an incentive to play again.
About the only reason why this game could be played multiple times is the time factor. Each run through is timed so players could play again to see how fast they can accomplish it. One of the mechanisms that plays into this is that whenever you get a hint on an inventory item, it adds 30 minutes onto your time. So if you're going on a quick run through, it's best to memorize that stuff because it'll cost you. Other than this, once you get through the game, you're pretty much done with it.
When it's all added up, the game is a good buy. You're not getting some repetitive, simple, level by level game that you'll get tired of in a few minutes. Don't get us wrong, there is repetition in Return to Ravenhearst, but because of the game play between those events, there is enough space between them to where they don't feel so tedious.
It also happens to be a difficult game. Objects, clues, and scavenger hunts are strewn about everywhere. Thanks to the above average graphics and design done by Big Fish Games, they're still rather difficult to find. More than once you're going to find an object by accidentally clicking on the screen. In the first 10 minutes of the game, without a guide open to help you, you're going to miss something.
Perhaps Return to Ravenhearst's biggest feature is its atmosphere. The game play, graphics, sound, and everything just wraps up into a whole experience that fans of this genre will enjoy. There is a free version in the Google Play Store that's a demo to try it out, but we feel it's worth the $1.99.
If you're thinking of trying Return to Ravenhearst, you can find it in the Google Play Store here.