Seller: Big Fish Games
Requirements: iOS 4.2 or later
Age Rating: 9+ for the infrequent/mild cartoon & real violence, mild horror/fear themes
Ravenhearst Manor sits abandoned and extremely foreboding, but it’s not quite empty. You play as a detective hunting for clues to unlock the mystery of the ghosts trapped in Ravenhearst, including the estate’s namesake Emma Ravenhearst and the two young daughters of the manor’s former owner. Time is of the essence as you explore the house and solve puzzles to free these trapped souls before the master returns and entraps you there as well.
Return to Ravenhearst is a return to Ravenhearst manor (as one might expect) to investigate the cause of strange goings-on afflicting the citizens of Fate’s Carnival. In the previous two Ravenhearst games, you play as a detective uncovering clues (hidden in alarmingly dense piles of rubbish, trees, etc.) to the mystery of Ravenhearst manor. The third installment is a continuation of these hidden object games, providing scenes in which you must uncover useful objects, tools, and hints that help you complete the game.
The game features outdoor exploration scenes encompassing the exterior and gardens of Ravenhearst mansion, while inside you get to explore the sub-basement and the even creepier caverns beneath it, where Charles Dalimar kept his prisoners.
In addition to the objects found in hidden scenes (which can unlock doors, open chests, and summon spirits), there are also puzzles that require a combination of exploration and experimentation.
In some cases, the puzzles require interaction with a specific object found earlier, while others simply require you to work through them in order to uncover plot points (all are skippable if you get frustrated). This includes finding pieces of machinery to repair an elevator (though it’s too late to help the comically deceased elevator attendant), as well as a final puzzle that sees you return to virtually all the scenes in the game to hunt for a specific series of objects.
Along the way, there is a helpful journal that documents your findings, and several puzzles require you to refer back to photos/drawings that appear as you complete the game. As it turns out, the spirits of Emma Ravenhearst and Charles Dalimar are not at rest as one might have hoped, and it is up to you to piece together Charles’ dark past and foil his plans to return from death.
The atmosphere in the game is convincing, with a soundtrack that is appropriately spooky and with just enough comic relief to prevent you from burning out—including a pair of twins who could have auditioned for The Shining.
Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst is free to try, so you should certainly check it out. Those who enjoy hidden object and puzzle games will find it a worthy title featuring a solid storyline and genuinely challenging puzzles. The game is on the long side, as it has you frequently revisiting past locations to look for new clues. The gameplay is never tedious, however, as all the objects change each time you visit the scene.
Given the game’s ending, it’s unlikely there will be a fourth installment in the Ravenhearst series. So, if you are a fan of this story, Return to Ravenhearst is a solid final chapter.