Reviewed by Cherie Jung

(December, 2012)

A Celtic legend passed down from through the centuries has recently taken on a new aspect. Once considered merely a fairytale, a newly discovered artifact indicates the dark legend may be more than a fairytale. The legend may be true! As the game begins, players learn that a group of graduate students who were researching the artifact and its relation to the legend have gone missing. By uncovering hidden objects and solving various puzzles and riddles the players are tasked with finding the missing students.

My gaming experience is limited. Many years ago I played Myst/Riven, 7th Guest/11th Hour, King's Quest, Thief, Ultima II/Ultima III, and Tomb Raider. The only Big Fish game I've played previously is Jewel Quest Solitaire. I found MCF: Dire Grove to be a challenging yet fun and rewarding gaming experience. Unlike some hidden object games, the player is not constrained by a time limit for playing the game or for solving individual puzzles. In fact, the puzzles can be skipped without incurring a penalty, which is a big plus if one becomes frustrated or unable to solve a puzzle. Another big plus: there are no real limits on helpful hints and no penalty for using hints. Also, for those who become stymied during the game and can't figure out where to go next or what to do next, there is an online "walkthrough" that details the playing of the game available on the Big Fish MCF: Dire Grove website forum.

The graphics and sound effects add so much to the atmosphere and to the enjoyment of playing the game. Snow swirls, wind howls through the trees and broken windows, snow crunches underfoot, boards creak...

The hidden object scenes are imaginative and challenging. The various puzzles, too, are challenging, but not outrageously difficult. Although I'll admit; the solution to one puzzle took me two hours but it was 3:30 a.m., I'd been playing the game for several hours by then, and I think I nodded off for a bit.

I played the game by myself through once. It took me around 10 hours to complete. But as I said, I'm not very game savvy. This is only the second hidden objects style game I've ever attempted. I then played the game through with a partner. This time the game took a little over 6 hours. Lest you think I took shortcuts by already knowing the combinations to the safe and other items requiring special codes, the numbers for the codes change with each game. (Imagine my surprise when I thought I knew the secret codes and could help my partner out with them!)

Interesting to me, my partner's skill at locating hidden objects and solving puzzles complimented my skills. We tended to see and identify different hidden objects. We also had differing puzzle solving skills. I have a knack for shifting symbols into place. He has a real talent for the more mathematically based puzzles. We're about even on the color coordinating puzzles.

The length of time necessary to complete MCF: Dire Grove felt right to me; not too long and not too short. This game is also well suited for playing either at short intervals or marathon gaming sessions. Unfortunately, I don't have the personal control to play for short, moderate, or even reasonably long sessions. Once I begin, it's a marathon session for me. Fortified with snacks and cold beverages, I'm at it until my eyes refuse to stay open, I nod off at the keyboard, or the power goes out.

I highly recommend MCF: Dire Grove. Even players with little gaming experience should enjoy this game.

The listed price is $9.99 however the website offers various discount coupons so the game may cost much less. I paid $4.99 plus tax. A free one-hour trial is available on all games.

Game System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8
CPU: 2.0 GHz
RAM: 1280 MB
DirectX: 9.0
Hard Drive: 517 MB

Game Manager System Requirements:

Browser: Internet Explorer 7 or later

This game is also available for Mac computers.


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