reviewed on PC
To each his own
On the one hand, these four games are practically the same in gameplay, so the only things that significantly change between them are the storyline and the rooms themselves. You can view the entire series as one big challenge, if you will. You'll notice that the items you're looking for are very often of the same type, like Lizards, Snakes (well, creepy-crawlies in general are heavily featured), things like pistols and pencils and stamps galore. Again, because there are so many scenes, this isn't very detrimental, but can get annoying at some point (the 100th safety pin is not a cause for celebration).
On the other hand, each game does present its own little perk features, which is another incentive to play more than one game of the series. In Titanic it is the oxygen level, which decreases with time and lost with hints but can be refilled by finding oxygen bottles (plus the gems, and the end-dive puzzles). In Prime Suspects, some rooms cannot be accessed without acquiring a battery item from another room. Once acquired, the battery is used either for a flashlight or an x-ray device, allowing the player to view the newly unlocked room in a very narrow view, further complicating the search.
How annoying can you get?
It must be said that while casual gamers would probably enjoy the game like everyone else, especially the on-line demo, actual purchase of any of the full games is not recommended for anyone who doesn't believe they can spend ten minutes staring at a pile of junk, trying to find the clothespin. Although lifesavers come in handy, there's not always enough of them to prevent meticulous screen-scanning at some point of the game. Even the larger objects can sometimes be hidden so cleverly as to prove frustrating. Sometimes you've shortened down the lists in all available rooms as much as you could, used all your lifesavers to find some of the more elusive stuff, and still need one or two items to complete the mission... and the clock's running out. With each mission taking around 15-30 minutes, this situation can either send the player either into a scanning frenzy (which is obviously much less effective than doing it slowly and carefully), or utter desperation (I.E. delete the game and go reinstall Doom3).
In other words, it's important to know yourself before you get to know this game too intimately. Frustration is abound, although satisfaction is guaranteed, and there is no denying that this game is horribly addictive, to the detriment of my ocular focal length.
So we come to the technical department, and the title of this section says it all. With simple 2D graphics, composed of a beautifully hand-drawn scenery and superimposed photo realistic or hand-drawn items, the game casually shrugs off the need for advanced graphics, and pulls it off remarkably well. It doesn't require more than it offers as far as eye-candy is concerned, which is unarguably a great triumph for quality of gameplay over senseless technological application. This is simply not the kind of game we'd want to see in 3D anyway.
Sound is ok. I have no idea how to add to that. Ok, I'll try. Most of the ambient is nice. Sound effects? Aren't that many and they're all alright. Music... not something you'll hum on the way to work, but it certainly doesn't bother you while you're pixel-hunting. Overall it fits the product - simple and not presumptuous.
A hop to the fridge
I like to make a point of this in my reviews on simpler games: the largest of these treasure-hunting games, namely Ravenhearst, is a whopping 75 megabytes. To the average internet user this equals roughly 15 minutes to one hour of download time (if you are using a 56k dial-up, mow the lawn for grandma on Saturday and go buy a real modem). The greatest benefit of this, as is for so many indie and small-publisher games nowadays, is that you can probably go from the purchase to the installation to the playing without getting up for more than a light snack. Internet publication and distribution (not to mention dear old Paypal) have made purchasing games as accessible as it's ever been, and much more so for small games such as these than for the 4GB mammoths.
After so much babble, there's not much left to say except that this is the sort of game that makes you want to run and tell friends, which is really what I'm doing right now. Kudos to Big Fish who have taken such a simple idea that hasn't been given proper treatment, and definitely not PC treatment, for a long time, and turning it into a really fun pastime for those of us who enjoy detail-related puzzles. Two thumbs up, although I would like to be reimbursed for the eye laser-surgery which I'm going to need to have once I'm done playing. If you fancy to give these games a try, hop over to Big Fish and check them out.
No Pros and Cons at this time