Going casual: Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove

Bundle up for a chilly mystery in Dire Grove. Photo from bigfishgames.com.

I’ve already brought up Big Fish Games as a download source. Now I find I need to make a quick correction: The Syberia games are located in the “Adventure” section, not the “Large File” section. I still recommend getting them, as they are still the gold standard by which I judge many point-and-click adventure games.

Now, having said that, and viewing the “Large File” section now, I noticed that Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove is still at the top of their list as the #1 Hit Game. To my knowledge, it has been in that position since it was released in late 2009. So what is this game, and why should the casual gamer consider it worth a look?

The Mystery Case Files is a series of adventure/hidden object games made by Big Fish Games’ development studio. It’s a mystery series, obviously, starring an unnamed detective who keeps running into supernatural mysteries that need to be solved. Dire Grove takes place in an empty vacation town somewhere in the middle of England.

MCF has a main story arc that has been built on in all of the games, called the "Ravenhearst" arc. Dire Grove stands slightly apart, being related only in the most incidental way. In the game, the Master Detective is driving through an unusually bad snowstorm and becomes bogged down by snow in the epicenter of the cold: A town called Dire Grove. When the Detective seeks shelter, they come across evidence left behind by a group of American college students which suggests that something unnatural is causing the freeze.

Dire Grove was the first of Big Fish’s “Collector’s Editions,” games with extended gameplay and supplemental material like artwork and built-in strategy guides. Many of the hidden object games they’ve released since then have had their own Collector’s Edition. If you have the money to spare, I highly recommend getting the CE, as it adds some more information to the story.

Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove is a mouse-driven hidden object and puzzle game that can be purchased from the Big Fish Games website. It can be picked up or put down easily, and no console is necessary. It is also available in mobile form for the iPad.

I'm the daughter of a veteran who spent my childhood in Killeen. As of 2013, I have a degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a critic of books, films, television, and video games. Find me on Twitter: @rachel_knows

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