Review: Mountain Crime: Requital

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As a kid, Highlights magazine was always something to look forward to because of the hidden picture puzzles. Even as an adult I can’t help but scour through hidden picture puzzles while waiting at a doctor’s office. Or play hidden object adventures from the comfort of my own home on a video game device.

The latest such game to catch my attention is Alawar’s Mountain Crime: Requital, newly updated for the PS3 with a mix cheesy voice acting, soap opera drama, grisly murders, hidden object searches, PlayStation Move support and a large collection of puzzles. All that adds up to a good bit of casual gaming fun.

Mountain Crime: Requital can be played with either a Move or a Dualshock and plays out similar to a motion comic merged with adventure game style problem solving. Without revealing much of the plot, players control a Doctor who is invited to a mountain resort which has been re-opened after many years of being closed due to a fire that killed several children. Without skipping a beat, the game thrusts players immediately into solving little puzzles (such as restoring power to lights on the building, or finding several hidden objects to discover a key which will then unlock a door. Once inside the resort, the game takes a detour from normal and attempts to head down a path toward Twin Peaks meets Murder She Wrote.

The plot and voice acting are nonsensical, but in all honesty neither need to make much sense in order to have fun in this type of game. The fun lies in finding objects cleverly hidden in cluttered backgrounds, and collecting items to piece together ways to solve other environmental puzzles. For instance there are stairs branching up to the two wings of the resort. At the head of each branch there are parrots in cages on either wing. One parrot has a doll of sorts in the cage that must be retrieved in order to solve another puzzle. Solving various other puzzles eventually leads to retrieving a pair of pliers which allow players to open one cage and collect a parrot so that it can be placed into the cage with the other parrot (presumably both parrots are more attracted to each other than the doll).

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Several puzzles are presented early in the game without any solution available until much later on, which is both good and bad. On one hand, there are plenty of puzzles that are passed over (and backtracked to) while seeking solutions for other puzzles. On the other hand, it means there are plenty of puzzles that can be forgotten until the object required is finally unlocked.

To help alleviate too much backtracking the game has a pop-down menu and navigation system that is triggered whenever the cursor is brought to the top of the screen. The menu system provides quick access to any location on the map that can be traveled to as well as brings up a list of tasks that need to be solved and a list of each of the guests that are encountered while at the resort.

The funny thing about the guests at the resort, is like any good (or should I say really bad soap opera drama/mystery) is that they are all unknowingly tied to each other in some manner. These undiscovered ties are revealed during the course of the game, but unfortunately always after a guest turns up dead. And boy howdy are there a lot of dead bodies by the end of the game. The first corpse that turns up is more of a plot point to tie all of the other guests together (or so I thought). By the time a third and then fourth body were discovered, I quickly wanted to stop meeting new characters in the game because I knew that eventually they would end up dead. Shocking, grisly deaths befall most of the guests, too. About halfway through the game I began joking with my kids (I know, I know, death isn’t a laughing matter–but in the case of this game it almost is a bright spot) over how the next person would end up dying.

You may be wondering why I was playing a game with grisly murders with my kids. Hindsight tells me I probably shouldn’t have, but at the time they were helping me to discover the hidden objects (as well as figure out many of the environmental puzzles). Some of the fun I had with the game was poking holes in the ridiculous plot with my son and older daughter. More often than not, though, my son acted as my eyes when trying to find the objects. That is one downside to this game, as it can be in many hidden object games. Even playing on a 42″ screen, I found myself having to stand up less than a foot from my screen in order to actually find many of the necessary hidden items. One other minor drawback to the game is, while a Move is compatible with the game, I found myself constantly hitting the hint button (Triangle) when using the Move, because the button layout is just slightly skewed from how the face buttons are mapped to a Dualshock. But that’s really just a matter of comfort and familiarity.

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Mountain Crime: Requital offers several “easy mode” options which improve the overall experience. As I mentioned before there is a quick travel map, but any location that requires some puzzle to be solved or clue to be found is marked with a blue wolf head. Additionally, there is a hint option that triggers a howling wolf which then highlights a particular section of whichever room you are in to help clue you in on what to do next. Finally, for those slightly obscure puzzles that you just quite seem to complete, there is a skip option once a timer has been reached. Keep in mind for any trophy hunters out there that using the hint button or skipping any puzzles will result in not earning one particular Gold trophy. For all others, the hint and skip options provide a way to continue on and see the “shoulda seen it coming” ending without getting tediously bogged down in unsolved puzzles.

However, for the most part experienced adventure fans will likely find many of the puzzles to be a bit too simplistic, while fans of good mysteries will likely solve the ending well before the game reaches its conclusion. But for casual gamers with a high tolerance for painfully cheesy voice acting (and dreary writing) or for anyone who loves hidden object searches, Mountain Crime: Requital is decent fun to play, and (unless you have overly sensitive or extremely young kids) even can be a bit of a family bonding experience.

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Pros:
+ Fun, simple puzzles
+ Supports Move or Dualshock
+ Hints, puzzle skipping and fast travel ease potential tedium

Cons:
– Hidden objects can be too hard to see unless close up to the screen
– Wildly convoluted plot
– Not much replay (unless trophy hunting)

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: 5/28/2013
Genre: Hidden Object Adventure
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.