Review: Mountain Crime: Requital (PC)

Mountain Crime: Requital
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Developer: Alawar Stargaze
Genre: Adventure/Hidden Object
Release Date: 12/08/2011

My Nintendo DS has been very good to me. It reintroduced me to the Adventure genre, a whole breed of games I was unwisely ignoring. There’s something to say about games that have stories to tell and ask you to use your brain to solve puzzles rather than blast away at space aliens. It’s a nice change of pace. Thus, I figured Mountain Crime would be the perfect winter treat. I needed a more relaxed game, and it’s rare that I can find one for the PC that can run on my crappy PC.

Mountain Crime promises an exciting mystery with plenty of point and click/hidden object gameplay to keep your puzzle solving juices flowing. Does it deliver, or is this just another downloadable adventure game that only the obsessed should play?

Story

You play as Dr. White. He receives a call from one of his patients, who is having a heart attack, and is asked to rush to said patient’s hotel in order to save the day. With no regard for why the patient didn’t simply dial 911, the good doctor rushes off. Naturally, it turns out that a giant storm has knocked out the only way in or out of the hotel, dead bodies start piling up, and a deeper conspiracy waits to be discovered.

I wasn’t a fan of this story. It could have been interesting, but the game desperately wants to move forward, so characters die quickly after they show up, with later characters dying long before you even meet them. There is little to no characterization, and the nature of the puzzles flies in the face of the supposed dire nature of things. If a man is dying from a poisonous snake bite, you’re not going to wander around for an hour placing figurines in clocks. If you see someone drowning in a water tank, that is the kind of thing you’ll want to take care of pretty quickly.

Perhaps the best part of the story is how much is revealed through random notes and letters you discover. The back story of the hotel as well as its inhabitants can be found as long as you look for it. Sadly, the developers decided that players couldn’t be trusted to find this information, so they feed it all to you in thirty second recap at the end of the game. Then it ends, with a gaping plot hole left to be filled, and a bitter taste in the mouth of the player.

Adventure games need a solid to good story to keep the player interested. Mountain Crime had potential, but it fails to deliver a satisfying story experience.

Graphics

The art style of the game is pretty solid. The spooky exterior of the hotel leads to a beautiful lobby which leads to a myriad of room types. Objects are strewn around in a believable manner and add detail to each environment. The colorful, but realistic look goes a long way towards drawing you in.

In the character department, however, the game falls flat on its face. The models are plastic looking messes that wouldn’t pass for human in most games. The rare animations are shoddy looking at best. Overall, they remind me of cheap 3D animations that you see in pop up ads all over the internet. They’re just not pleasant to look at.

Beyond that, this a typical hidden object game in terms of style. Most of it is well suited and looks good. If not for the scary looking humanoids, I’d have walked away with an entirely positive feelings towards it.

Audio

OH DEAR GOD. I haven’t heard voice acting this bad since Resident Evil. Even worse, it doesn’t have the hilarious script to work off of. It’s just pain-inducing. Any time a character opened his/her mouth to utter so much as one syllable, I died a little inside. Inflections don’t match tones, emotions are all over the place, and it made my high school theater productions seem awesome by comparison.

The music was another sore point. Firstly, it was barely ever there to begin with. When it did show up, it was overly dramatic music that barely worked the moment you found a dead body and stopped working after you started working on that slide puzzle. It just doesn’t work.

If I were to ever play this game again, I’d do so with the sound turned off. There are some nifty sound effects that fit whatever you’re doing, but they aren’t worth the rest of it. Granted, you can shut off the volume for voices and music, so that isn’t really necessary.

Gameplay

Mountain Crime doesn’t stray from what players are used to. This game is all about clicking objects in the environment, whether to cross them off on a list, add them to your inventory, or solve a puzzle.

For most of the game, it’s simple navigation. If you can go to an area, the cursor will turn into an arrow and you can click to move forward. If there is an object of interest, you can click on that as well. For puzzles, you’ll zoom in. If you don’t have the pieces required, then you’ll be alerted as such. If you do have them, you need merely drag an item from your inventory to the area in question and you’re good to go.

Occasionally, you’ll need to play a hidden object minigame to move forward. These are the best sections of the game. This is because the objects you find are directly related to making/finding the object you need. For example, the first such puzzle involves finding scattered contents for a doctor’s bag, which is needed to treat a dying man. That made these sections much more interesting. Also, if you need to return to an area, any of the pieces you found earlier will no longer be on the screen, which keeps things nice and tidy.

Occasionally, you’ll need to solve a puzzle to move forward. These cover the most basic puzzles, such as a jigsaw. The controls for these work well enough, and you can skip them eventually if you get stuck. They’re there for fun, but you’re not forced to complete them.

One thing I didn’t enjoy was how much of the gameplay was simply running back and forth with a new item that would be placed in a mechanism which would give me a new item that would be placed in another mechanism which would give me a new item which would…….(you get the idea.) Most of the mechanisms were only missing one piece, and there were a ton of them. It all felt like a bit too much.

Overall, this is a pretty standard adventure/hidden object hybrid that hits all the right notes without bringing anything new to the table. In other words, it’s exactly what genre fans are looking for.

Replayability

Like most adventure games, this does nothing to entice the player to come back for more when the story is finally over. There are no bonus modes are hidden secrets to uncover and a subsequent replay will only yield the exact same experience. What fun are puzzles if you already know all of the answers?

The game will take you probably somewhere between four to five hours to complete. There are technically two difficulty settings, but these merely affect how often you can use hints and whether or not areas you can interact with light up. If you beat the game on casual, there’s no point to beating it on hard, and vice versa.

Balance

The puzzles themselves aren’t very difficult. The hidden object sections are likewise fairly easy to work through, as there are no tricks to them and you can use a hint for any stubborn objects. Where the game will get tricky is the sheer volume of trinkets you pick up. Sometimes, it can be hard simply to remember what goes where and to what puzzle that coin would help solve.

The hint system is very helpful. If you’re in the wrong area, you can use them freely until you’re where you need to be. After that, the hint will outright show you what you need to do. This requires a recharge, which will take either sixty seconds or five minutes depending on the difficulty setting. You can even skip several puzzles if you wait long enough, meaning there’s pretty much nothing keeping you from moving forward.

There can be a bit of challenge to this game. If you play on the harder difficulty setting and play your hints rarely, you won’t have the easiest of times. Of course, you’ll eventually come across the answer once you’ve clicked the right spot, but that’s neither here nor there. This game is meant to be accessible and easy to work through. In that, it has succeeded.

Originality

These games are pretty much a dime a dozen. There hasn’t really been much of a renaissance when it comes to point and click games. These games rely on compelling stories to differentiate themselves. As such, I found nothing original at all about this game. It’s like a dime store mystery novel with run of the mill gameplay mechanics. While this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, it certainly won’t fuel the imaginations of would be players.

Addictiveness

Even though I didn’t like the story and I found myself getting headaches because of the audio, I still had to play this game. Adventure games like this have a way of sucking players in. This is because each puzzle you solve unlocks a piece to another, and you just have to solve that one before you stop. What occurs is a ceaseless merry-go-round of logic. I beat this game in only two sessions in less than a day.

Of course, the lack of replay means that addictive nature only lasts until you finish the game. Then, there’s a sense of emptiness when you realize there’s nothing left to do. I suppose this is a great way to sell another game, but does little to help any individual one stand out.

Appeal Factor

Let’s face it. These kinds of games have niche appeal at best. Sure, they’re accessible, but they aren’t major releases nor are they games most people are likely to hear about. The kinds of people who play these games are the same people that would have played them ten years ago.

That being said, this is still a game that anyone can enjoy (provided they turn off the voices of course). Point-and-click controls are easy to handle and the puzzles are rarely taxing. The ability to skip tough sections means anyone can work through this game. It’s also at an affordable price, so the barrier to entry is quite low. That makes up for a lot.

Miscellaneous

I like adventure games, and I certainly find hidden object games enjoyable enough, but I didn’t find myself enjoying this one. That is proof positive that a solid story is the cornerstone that these games need to thrive. I wasn’t interested in the tale, and was in fact repulsed by it. That makes this a hard game to recommend, even to the most devout of genre fans.

It’s also a bummer that there isn’t anything extra to sweeten the deal. A bonus chapter or even a new game plus would have made the game more palatable, and certainly have helped the score. As it is, this is a one and done game that doesn’t leave much of a positive impression. Color me disappointed.

The Scores
Story: Pretty Poor
Graphics: Poor
Audio: Very Bad
Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Worthless
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Worthless
Addictiveness: Good
Appeal Factor: Mediocre
Miscellaneous: Poor
Final Score: Poor Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

Mountain Crime: Requital is a very typical entry in the adventure/hidden object genre. It offers the same classic controls and gameplay that fans love, but fails to hit the mark on other important areas. Point in fact, you won’t be impressed by the presentation or the story, and that helps drag the experience down to less than it could have been. A murder mystery isn’t the hardest thing to pull off, so it’s a disappointment this game failed on so many levels. If you simply enjoy finding hidden objects and solving simple puzzles, go ahead and give this game a try. Be warned however, that’s all you’ll get out of this game.

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