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3 Cards to Dead Time
Big Finish Games brings us 3 Cards to Dead Time, a superb mystery game wrapped up in hidden object mechanics that will challenge even the most active minded PC gamer. After just playing the first chapter in the free game demo that you can download on the Big Finish Games site, you will be hooked and ready to finish out the over six hours of challenging, mysterious game play that is offered up in 3 Cards to Dead Time. Here is what you can expect from 3 Cards to Dead Time from Big Finish Games.
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First off, I have to just say wow. The completeness of the story line throughout 3 Cards to Dead Time simply blew me away from the start. It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (for those old enough to remember those) meets a sweetly designed console game meets an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
You play as Jess Silloway, who has just found out she has a special "gift" after almost being murdered a few months earlier in the first installment, 3 Cards to Midnight. Now, her well being, as well as the lives of her adoptive parents and her boyfriend hang in the balance as she strives to solve one myster after another to keep everyone safe and keep her sanity. After encounters with people and places that bring her visions and memories of people long gone, she begins to wonder what everything means and how it all ties to one small town in Maine that was all but wiped off the map in the late 1920's.
With the help of her friends, family, and a PI (who is deeply in love with her as well), she has to unlock the secrets and the mysteries that surround her family, her gift, and bring her the power to stand up to those that mean her harm before it's too late.
There is not one of the thousands of hidden object games, mystery or otherwise that would hold a candle to the story line that is presented in 3 Cards to Dead Time. With the massive mystery, the huge amount of game play, and a story line that gets more mysterious as you go, it's hard not to give this part of 3 Cards to Dead Time a solid 5 out of 5 here.
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The game play in 3 Cards to Dead Time is completely unique, again differentiating it from other hidden object games available. While you do search out different objects in the different areas on each level, they are not just a list of items to find. Instead, you are challenged to find objects that do certain things (such as fly, cause phobias, and so on), objects that are found on other things (such as tarot cards), and even objects with traditional association (such as sex, drugs, and rock and roll). The developers of 3 Cards to Dead Time offer up a completely unique take on hidden object games that will challenge even the most avid mystery game lover, perhaps even on the easy mode.
Another part of the game play that I absolutely loved was the fact that you don't have to play each level in a specific order. You get three cards to choose from and you pick which card you want to play first. While you do have to play all of the cards in that level, you don't have a set path that you have to take.
Aside from the hidden object games that you'll find in 3 Cards to Dead Time, there are smaller puzzles that are spaced throughout the levels as well. And let me tell you now, even on the easy mode I had a hard time beating some of them. Just one more reason that I completely fell for this hidden object game.
Overall, I'm giving the game play of 3 Cards to Dead Time another solid 5 out of 5 because it will challenge even the most savvy gamer while offering something unique and more stimulating than standard seek and find gaming.
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In one word: beautiful. Where other hidden object games just take a picture and add or take out some objects to make a puzzle, this whole game was designed to be visually stunning in any part by Big Finish Games. The hidden object games themselves are extremely well done, and it's hard to determine which parts are part of the main picture and which might be an object that you need to check out.
Also, the cut scenes that give you the story lines will play out like a movie, instead of like other normal mystery games, using cutscene graphics. The characters are created with a visual appeal that is beleivable and fits the story.
Everything about the graphics in 3 Cards to Dead Time blows away other hidden object games and on the market right now. You can easily see what I mean from the screenshots below - and I even caught some subtle references to other people, places, TV shows, and more throughout the game, if you look close enough! (Move over T.A.P.S. - the T.I.P.S. ghost hunting team is here for business!)
Overall, I give the graphics a solid 5 out of 5 again. I couldn't find anything wrong with them anywhere - and I doubt you will too.
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Sounds and Voice Work
Ok, for anyone that reads my game reviews, you know that I very rarely like the voice or music work in a game. I usually listen for a bit, then either turn it off or turn on some other music.
3 Cards to Dead Time is NOT one of these types of games.
One of the very first things I noticed, aside from the graphics, is that the music, sound effects, and voice work are way over any other hidden object games or mystery games out there. The quality is more like a film than a casual PC game. In fact, the voice work is so great that it adds a depth to every one of the characters that you would never get in other hidden objects games. The realism is notable: you learn character's voices, you listen for different changes in their tone and you can hear the sarcasm, exchanges, defiance, terror, and battle between fear and reason that. I have to admit that I was just floored by the voice work especially here, and the music and sounds are right up there with them.
The audio overall, and especially the voice work, get a solid 5 out of 5 again from me. This is not one of those hidden object games that is played with the sound off. You'll miss some of the best parts of the game!
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With over six hours of game play broken into seven different chapters (levels), it is hard to finish this whole hidden object game in one sitting like some others out there. The beautifully designed and assembled storyline and cutscenes, along with unique mechanics and brilliant voicing, make this game top of the seek and find mystery heap. It's hard to really find anything wrong with this game at all. My only complaint is that even on the easy level I had some challenges solving some of the puzzles - which is actually a very good thing! With two more difficulty levels there is a good amount of replayability.
For anyone that is looking for a new hidden object game or mystery game that will really give you a challenge, and deliver a thriller movie experience, 3 Cards to Dead Time is the PC game that you have been looking for. Big Finish Games is also offering free game demos for both 3 Cards to Dead Time and 3 Cards to Midnight for gamers to try out before they buy them - and trust me, you'll want to buy them.
Interview with Chris Jones and Aaron Conners: Big Finish Games Founders; Makers of the 3 Cards series; and the Tex Murphy Games