Mystery Case Files 9: Shadow Lake CE
If you have the CE, don't leave the prison until you find the key to the Quarry! I did not find it until almost the end of the game, thus I missed out on most of the bonus content! >_<
I bought the CE the day it came out, and here we are, almost a year later, and I've just now gotten around to playing it. Admittedly, I did have some technical difficulties, and was put off by the plethora of poor reviews, but now I can add my own views on the game.
First off the technical stuff. Options include separate sliders for Music, Effects, and Environment, as well as windowed, high quality, subtitles, and hardware cursor. The game automatically adjusted for my widescreen, and looked great that way, with no black bars.
The Tutorial is optional.
You can choose between Casual and Expert modes, and liking a challenge, I went with Expert... which meant NO instructions for mini-games! You cannot change your setting once you've made your choice, unless you want to start a new profile.
HINTS will either bring your attention to something on the screen, or tell you where you should be looking via a text pop up.
Just a note that if you return to the main menu or exit the game, it will backtrack a bit, and you will have to redo an action or two. Not a big deal, and actually nice if you have the CE and want to go back to find morphing items after the game has finished.
I generally do not like live actors in my games, and Shadow Lake
is no exception. I don't think that Big Fish integrates their live actors as well as some other game developers do, but after a while, I found that I didn't mind anymore. By now, unless you're semi-new to the casual-gaming scene, you've heard that Leah Thompson overacted, and... Yes, it's true. She really chewed the carpet, so to speak
I simply think that she was a poor choice for the role, as her personality is not quirky enough. I believe that the game would have been better received had they cast someone else in the role of Cassandra. The rest of the actors did a good job, and I got a real chuckle out of the dude from Ghost Patrol
The graphics in the game are not pretty, but they're beautifully done, especially as we discover new areas.
We have a MAP, and it is required to move about within the game. It will jump us to a section, but not to specific scenes in that section, if that makes any sense. Say we need to go to a location in the prison. The map will jump us to the prison entrance, and we have to hoof it from there. I didn't have a problem with getting lost, the system is pretty easy to understand.
Hidden object scenes are done differently than we're accustomed to, and better yet, we have a very logical REASON to be collecting these items! Love that! Back to the HOS, though. What we have is a list of items to find. Nothing unusual there. What's different is that they can be found right where you're currently standing, on a zoom-in (or several,) and across multiple scenes (no more than two, if I remember correctly.) If you've moved to a place where nothing can be found, the list will disappear. Go back, and the list appears again. The zoom-in portions will automatically close once you've finished finding everything you need there.
In addition to the HOS, we have drawings that we have to match to our surroundings. Those who played the CE of Escape from Ravenhearst
will recognize these as the "door tokens" that we had as bonus content. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, here's how it works: We're given drawings as inventory items, and we have to "place" the drawing where it matches up exactly with the background. This isn't as hard as it was in EFR -- generally the places can be found in the order in which they are given to us. We work with a set of five or so at a time, and get more as the game progresses. When we return the "charged" drawings, we get a mini-game (which repeats, but is different and harder each time,) followed by a new piece of the story.
Our case file (aka journal) has a task list, and tracks important information, but doesn't really give us any extra story. Via these pages we can also re-watch any cutscenes.Shadow Lake
has a dark storyline, and some truly creepy moments, but it's not a scary game. I think that the developers of casual games are just too worried about appealing to as many people as possible to actually make their games frightening. I must say that I'm tired of the characters in our games responding to the supernatural and/or horrible circumstances with little to no emotion. Puh-leez! I understand that the characters MUST be brave in order to have a game (lest they run away,) but c'mon! How about some emotion
? Shadows: Price for Our Sins
is the only game I remember playing where the main character actually got panicked by her circumstances!
But I digress... (no surprise there!
- Integrated Strategy Guide
- 3 Wallpapers
- 3 Screensavers
- 50 Morphing Items (which you must unlock)
- Making-of Video
As I mentioned above, BE SURE that you find the key to the quarry before you leave the prison! You're going to want to unlock the morphing objects as soon as possible... Don't be like me and miss it until the end of the game
Once you get inside the quarry, "you're on your own." There are no hints, you just have to figure out what to do to unlock the morphing items. I was at a loss for a bit... I've come to find that I'm a bit impatient, but I'm really happy to have gotten it unlocked on my own. It didn't take me more than 15 minutes to get it done, but finding 50 morphing items would DEFINITELY expand the gameplay by a LOT! Apparently something happens when you find all 50, but I don't know what it is
The strategy guide is "smart" and opens to show you -- in pictures, with very little text -- what you need to do next. You cannot go forward or backwards in the SG, it ONLY shows what you need to know right then.
I didn't really care about the walls or screen savers since the art isn't something I want to look at every day, but I do appreciate that they included them in the CE.
I haven't watched the making-of video, yet, so I can't comment on that part of the CE.
Overall, this game was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be after having read others' input. I think that, like Dire Grove
, the demo portion of the game really doesn't give you a good idea of the coming gameplay, which gets more engaging as you progress. While Shadow Lake
is not what I would consider an EPIC game, I will definitely play it again someday.