We’ve played a lot of ‘casual adventure’ games on our iDevices, and while a fair few have a horror theme, they’re usually about as scary as your average Scooby Doo episode. However, from the slightly disturbing intro video for Escape from Ravenhearst, where you’re treated to images of knives, blood and dolls having their faces melted off, it’s clear that this isn’t a kiddie-friendly caper. Indeed, by the time you reach a dilapidated hospital filled with the screams of the damned, you’ll probably have a serious eye twitch and damp trousers.
Escape From Ravenhearst is the protagonist detective’s third visit to the creepy titular manor, and it’s a bit of a shambles after being burned to the ground in the second outing. Fans of the series will get a kick out of returning to the ghostly mansion, but newcomers will be rather confused by the many references to prior adventures. The game is still perfectly playable, but you’re best off starting at the beginning to get the most out of it.
Graphically, Escape From Ravenhearst is superb. The various locations are dank, nasty and horrible, and you’ll want to bathe in bleach to scrub off the dirtiness when you’re done. The music is suitably atmospheric, and helps to draw you into the game. You also get the odd spot of Full Motion Video, where real-life actors pop into the scene to either aid you or threaten you. Most of the acting is hammy as expected, but it’s all neatly presented and great fun.
While most casual adventures stick with a ‘hidden object’ motif – virtual treasure hunts where you have to find and tap a number of objects in a list – Escape From Ravenhearst breaks the mould and serves up a bunch of ‘morphing object’ scenes instead. In this case you have to watch closely and tap any objects you see transforming into other objects. We personally prefer hidden objects, and went a little boss-eyed from staring intently at every single on-screen item, but at least the developers have tried something a bit different.
Casual adventures usually stick with fairly simple puzzles also – jigsaws and the like – to avoid alienating anyone who hates anything too taxing on the ol’ noggin. Escape From Ravenhearst once again sticks two fingers up to convention, featuring the kind of sprawling puzzles you usually find in fully-fledged point n’ click adventure games. You’ll even have to take notes in places, when encountering clues on how to open a door at some other point in the game. Be prepared for a proper challenge if you’re keen to complete the game.
Thankfully the Collector’s Edition comes with a full strategy guide that gives you step-by-step instructions to complete the game, and you can ask for a hint at any time, which highlights morphing objects you can’t find or other hotspots that you’ve missed. There’s also a casual mode which gives you plenty of help, so Escape From Ravenhearst isn’t a chore to complete, even if you do get stuck on those tricky brain-scratchers.
If you’re after a dark and different kind of casual game, Escape From Ravenhearst does the job. We’re not big fans of the morphing object scenes and newcomers won’t have a clue what’s going on, but the tricky puzzles and macabre atmosphere should be enough to hold most gamers’ interest.