MYSTERY CASE FILES: SHADOW LAKE
(The Collector's Edition)
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
MCF: SHADOW LAKE (The Collector's Edition) is a newly released (November, 2012) hidden object style game from Big
Fish, a hugely popular source for computer games.
In 1973, an inmate unearthed a mysterious object from beneath the prison floor. After its discovery, something wicked took over the town
of Bitterford, Maine. Now an evil legend haunts the forgotten town. With Bitterford lying in ruin, the player teams up with psychic Cassandra
Williams (played by award-winning actress Lea Thompson) to investigate what led to the town's destruction.
MCF: SHADOW LAKE (The Collector's Edition) has exclusive extras not found in the standard version including: bonus
game play, unlockable morphing objects, screensavers & wallpapers, an exclusive behind-the-scenes video, and a dynamic
casebook/journal and integrated strategy guide.
Listed at $19.99, I paid only $13.99 (with an online discount coupon) plus tax.
Please note: The full version game is 1.27 GB. (The free sample version is 479.07 MB)
The size of the game initially presented a problem for me because I have internet access via dial-up, not one of the faster methods.
On my slow system the download kept timing out or dropping the connection when it would get to 1.1 GB. The techs at Big Fish (and online
help) were readily available for assistance. In the end, it took me 12 days, at 24 hours per day before I was successfully able to download
and install the game. I'm either persistent or just plain stubborn...
The final, successful attempt, required 4 days of continual downloading time, including 6 hours during which our phone lines were out of
order. (Frankly, by then, I was beginning to think the game was cursed, along with the ancient relic the game is centered around.) Big Fish
is in no way responsible for my downloading troubles. Lack of modem speed is the culprit — entirely my fault. But they were patient
with me and tried to be helpful, as I mentioned earlier.
On the plus side for me:
On the negative side of things:
- The look of the game is intriguing, except for the live action sequences. They spoiled the game's visual impact for me. I liked the
look and feel of the locations around Bitterford; the falling leaves, the fog, the crumbling buildings, the dust falling through gaping holes in
the dilapidated buildings.
- The puzzles were relatively easy (a negative, possibly, for more experienced gamers).
- Hints are not limited. (The player can access hints as quickly as the indicator recharges.)
- Puzzles can be skipped without penalty.
- At the beginning, a player may choose to play in the casual mode or the difficult mode. For inexperienced players, the casual mode is
a big plus. The Strategy Guide will provide hints on what to do and where to go next for players who become stumped.
- The game provides a map, with new locations revealed as the game progresses. No need to schlep along from place to place. Just
open the map, pick your desired destination, click on it, and presto! You're there.
- The game was not too long. Two short sessions and one several hours long marathon session and I was done. Game solved. I even
did the bonus chapter. Although I will admit, I missed quite a few — okay, a lot — of the morphing objects. I'll get them next
Let me say first, that these grumblings are my own. Other players may not have the same biases that I have.
- I dislike the actress Lea Thompson. Always have. Therefore I found having to watch and listen to her during the many psychic
readings throughout the game to be extremely annoying. Hearing her voice advise me to return for more drawings made me want to scream,
"No! I'm not coming back."
- The live-action segments were annoying. They were especially jarring amidst the haunting and eerie derelict sites created for the
game's playing area in the abandoned town of Bitterford.
- The inventory compartment was frustrating to access because it spun too quickly, in both directions. I would have preferred a
stationary compartment with access to additional items via simple arrows (Like the one used in MCF: Dire Grove.) Additionally, the diagrams
the psychic wished the player to energize were too small. Combined with the spinning inventory compartment, the frustration level mounted
every time I needed to check a drawing for a possible match.
- The floating puzzles — small segments of video that needed to be combined by twisting and bumping the correct edges together
to form one larger, complete picture — were beyond frustrating! They were amusing once or twice then completely annoying. Thank
goodness there is no penalty for skipping these puzzles, although I hate to skip any puzzles.
- Back-tracking. It's part of most games of this sort, I know, but I swear, I just wanted to drag that darn ladder around with me
everywhere. (I would have, too, if the game would have allowed it.) I quickly became weary, after the first few times of having to go back
to where I had last used the ladder to retrieve it for access to the current site. I'm certain in a town the size of Bitterford, abandoned
though it was, there might be more than one ladder. (How about... allow the player to either create an alternate means of passage from
local debris or go back and get the ladder?)
My suggestion? Play the free one-hour demo game and see if you think you might like to play more of the game.
Game System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7
CPU: 1.8 GHz
RAM: 1024 MB
Hard Drive: 1567 MB
Game Manager System Requirements:
Browser: Internet Explorer 7 or later
Also available for Mac.
Link to: SHADOW LAKE
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