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When I got my laptop a year ago I started to use it for gaming, and have downloaded quite a few hidden object games. If you have never played one, a hidden object game is where you get a detailed scene on the screen, and a list of items to find within that picture - kind of a Where's Wally for the computer generation!! Recently I have started to notice these games more and more on the Nintendo DS, and having borrowed my sisters Mystery Case Files game and quite enjoying it, I got Cate West: The Vanishing Files for Christmas.
Cate is a mystery novelists with Psychic abilities. She is recruited by the police to work on The Vanishing Files, a collection of cases that they have been unable to solve. There are 15 levels to the game split up into 5 sections. You play the first 4 sections as Cate, and the fifth one as her police colleague Ben. Each level is timed, and you get penalised by 30 seconds if you make too many random clicks - i.e. just trying to guess where the items are by franticly clicking anywhere.
1 - Hidden object. This is a classic hidden object level, with 10 objects to find per location. The number of locations and total of items to find to complete the level increases as the game goes on. 2 - Spot the difference. The screen is split into two with small differences between the two scenes. You can tap the difference on either side of the picture. 3 - Find the Evidence. Cate uses her psychic ability to determine what items found previously are connected to the criminal. These items, such as a shoe or a gun, are the divided into pieces, and you need to find these pieces in the scenes. Similar to level one, but you have a list of pictures to find rather than words. 4 - Find the Criminal. Cate examines the evidence and retrieves information about the owner - like they have dark hair. You are given pictures and descriptions of eight suspects and you have to use Cate's details to decide who the criminal is. 5 - Recreate the Crime Scene. Ben has t recreate the crime scene to get a conviction. Again the scene is split into two, and items are missing from one or other of the scenes. You need to drag the item from the list at the bottom of the screen and place it back in the scene.
I am terrible for getting started on a game without reading the instructions and when I first started playing I thought it was impossible to locate any of the missing objects, but then I realised that there was a magnifying glass that zomes in the picture on the bottom screen, while keeping the full size scene on the top screen - that made things much easy to find!! There is also an eye icon which you can press and it will find an item for you, although this will decrease the amount of points you get at the end of the level.
Although the idea behind this game is simple it is strangely addictive. The format does not change throughout the game and that can be a bit repetitive, as can the fact that the same locations are used throughout, so if you are particularly eagle eyed you may remember where some of the objects are - this was not something that affected me LOL! The cut scenes between each level are quite good to watch, as a whole whodunit scenario unfolds, but this can be skipped if you just want to play the game.
I did find that some items were impossible to find, as they were so well hidden as part of another object, and even when the hint highlighted them I still couldn't figure out how I would have ever seen them. Another glitch I found was that occasionally I would tap where the hidden object was at get no response, or even penalised, but when I pressed the hint button the item was exactly where I was tapping!! However this only happened a couple of times. The items themselves were not too difficult to identify, as sometimes americanisms can sometimes cause confusion in hidden object games - however I do think this game could have benifited from a few cryptic clues to spice up the hidden object rounds
It took me just under 2 weeks to complete this game - not that I played it solidly, more like 30 - 60 mins before bed. I think if you are a more hardcore gamer you would probably knock this out in a couple of nights. It is not in the same league as Professor Layton as a puzzle game but it is definitely worth a look if you like mystery/puzzle games. It would be a good game to have on a long plane or train journey. However, don't get this game if you have played it on Wii or PC as there is no difference in the game play.