A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is a mostly innocuous hidden object game. Some scenes -- like a crypt -- can be a little scary, and the narrative briefly references people dying, but play is limited to finding objects and solving puzzles; players never see any violence. While the content is fairly clean -- expect nothing more controversial than swords and liquor bottles hidden within some scenes -- parents should know that the puzzles can be quite challenging, as can figuring out what needs to be done next in order to progress through the world. Younger players without patience could grow frustrated.
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What's it about?
Big Fish Games’ popular series of hidden object games finally makes its way from PC to console in MYSTERY CASE FILES: THE MALGRAVE INCIDENT for Wii. Players take on the role of a detective drawn to a spooky, run-down island at the behest of an eccentric man who claims to have found a pink particulate that could potentially be the answer to humanity’s physical ills. Players navigate the island by pointing at the screen and clicking, making sure to carefully examine their surroundings for clues along the way. Most puzzles are seek-and-find scenes where players have to find a handful of objects among a jumble of items. They’ll keep some of these objects -- including valves, planks, tiles, and cutters -- to help with contextual conundrums that, when solved, will clear the way for further island exploration. A trio of multiplayer mini-games, meanwhile, pits up to four players against each other as they attempt to find objects as quickly as possible to earn points or avoid holding a bomb when it explodes.
Is it any good?
Why would a family spend $40 on the sort of game that can be found for $10 on PC or $3 on an iPad? Surprisingly, there are a number of compelling answers. For starters, the quality of the narrative is closer to that of a full-priced boxed game than a simple downloadable. Plus, the number and variety of puzzles is impressive, and there are lots of bonus collectibles for keen-eyed players to find along the way. And the three multiplayer games, though simple, extend the fun in a way that’s impossible in a PC-based hidden object game. Expect ten or more hours of solid entertainment, all told.
Our biggest beef has to do with the Wii. Despite its control scheme -- which is perfect for a game like this -- and its seemingly ideal demographic of casual gamers, it doesn’t do a great job of generating clear graphics. That’s a problem in a game that demands players identify tiny details in busy scenes. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is the cause of some frustration. Nonetheless, Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident earns an easy recommendation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it might be like to be a detective. Do you enjoy solving mysteries? Do you think recognizing clues in real life might be harder than in a game?
Families can also discuss the virtues of patience and perseverance. What are some real-world situations in which it pays to take your time and show diligence? Do you have a difficult time maintaining interest if solutions to problems aren’t quick to present themselves?
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