Review: Mortimer Beckett and the secrets of Spooky Manor

Mortimer Beckett and the secrets of Spooky Manor is a one game in a series of Mortimer Beckett PC games. Spooky Manor is one of three different games that Real Arcade has decided to use to jump into the console game market with, and even though this game is a port of a PC game, they have added some extra features to make it stand out. Did they add enough to give it that extra edge in a sea or decent Wii games out there or will it fall to obscurity. Join me as I dive through spooky manor and try to find out what the real deal is.

Disclosure: If you haven’t read any of my previous reviews before I try to fully review a game from start to finish. Touching on every aspect I possibly find can be a deciding factor in someone deciding to buy a game. As well as detailing my own feelings in my final paragraph before deciding on a final review score.

When you start up the game you are greeted with a name entry screen with is done entirely with one Wii Remote and in a very simplistic way. As you are required to use the Wii’s D-pad to switch between letters to input your name. Of course with all games I usually play I tried to use the characters name but it didn’t fit, I could only get Mortime. So I ended up caving and just using my own name. Which didn’t exactly work out as I planned as I didn’t realize that having the final letter in your name blinking does not confirm it in place. So I ended up starting the game as Wil, although of course I tried to delete that name/profile only to learn that I could only do so after creating a new profile.

Anyway with that eventual 10 minutes of wasted time finally I had my name as Will and decided to start the game. The story is told through a short series of mini-comics and through a guide book you received from your estranged uncle. You start out on a train heading towards your uncles Manor. Which is told to you by Mortimer who is apparently narrorating the events in the comic.

You learn that apparently ten days ago he received a letter and package from his Uncle Jerome. The package contains a book filled with a bunch of random poetically wrote riddles, or so Mortimer leads you on to believe. In the letter you you find out that “Something terrible has happened” and that “They stole the starter units parts and hid them throughout the house” and that “you must come and help me find and complete the starter unit!”. Which is a somewhat questionable request from an estranged uncle you haven’t seen in twenty years.

I would have to say if I received a letter similar to the one that Mortimer received that I would be seriously considering having my uncle committed. However, Mortimer being the optimistic yet daring adventurer he is, has decided to risk his life to investigate and find out what exactly is going on with his uncle and to confront whoever “they” are. As he arrives at the Manor he notices that no one is answering the door and soon has to find an alternative way into the manor.

Eventually leading him to break into his uncles manor through a basement window starting Mortimer’s strange and eerie adventure throughout the spooky mansion.

The games story mode plays out very similar to Mystery Case Files: Millon Heir, as the goal is to seek and search out various objects. Each of which are broken up and hidden among various junk strewn about the manors various rooms. However, unlike Mystery Case Files, you aren’t timed while searching for these items so you can leisurely relax while looking around.

Another big difference between the two is that the story can be played co-op style. Allowing you to have help while searching the mansion for those various hard to spot items. Although the sad part is that you both have to search the same room that player one is currently looking at, but it’s not all that bad.

However, Mortimer Beckett is different because all the items you are looking for are disassembled and strewn about the area. So instead of looking for one unique item, you have to find all the various parts to it. While some of those parts are occasionally hidden behind interactive objects or obstacles which require another item to activate. So this requires you to search other parts of the manor to find an item that can activate and move that item around. You might be forced to do the same thing in a bunch of other rooms before you finally can find that one item that finally solves that problem.

Although the game makes it a bit easier by breaking up the mansion into different sections that usually only have three to five different rooms you need to explore at a given time.

This is where the main problem with the game appears as the game is already difficult enough having to search for various objects that are broken up. But to search for an object that is a tiny black piece record hidden in on a dark piece of furniture or background can make you go insane, since it is almost impossible to see it.

This causes way to must frustration and sometimes the only fix is to use one of your limited number of hints or actually tweak the black levels on your TV. The game actually provides an in game option that allows you to do something like that by going into options and tweaking the “gamma correction”.

The fact that you have to search for a black object on a black background can make a level somewhat impossible to finish, even if you spend an hour combing the level for that last piece square by square because you ran out of hints. It also doesn’t help that an object can be somewhat concealed behind another object making it hard to see as well.

If the game wasn’t hard enough already the game also punishes you if you click around on the wrong areas to much by either by spawning a ghosts that scroll across the screen blocking you from clicking on anything. Or it can also spawn a ghost that screams and latches onto your pointer, requiring you to shake your Wii Remote to knock it off it.

While randomly click around the room might work in the beginning, by the time you get to the areas that spawn those screaming ghosts it’s not worth it. As the game can spawn up to six different ghosts that float around the screen until they disappear, or you get the screaming one.

There is also two other game modes which you can choose to play. “Scavenger” which is a fast paced, competitive race against time to find the most items and score the most points. Which spans a few random rooms throughout the mansion.

While the other is “Ghost World” which is another multiplayer mode. The object of this one is to find the completed items that the ghost have stolen from the mansion. As they are trying to bring them into their world where they will be lost forever. Random ghosts spawn and move across the screen blocking you from grabbing items, and the person with the most items at the end of the timed round wins.

Visually the game is very well done and features a mixture of nice mixture of 3D and 2D graphics. The only complaint I have with the visuals is that since this game is a port, they could of took some time to tweak the graphic user interface to work better on the TV. As I ran into a few problems on my thirty-inch TV screen where I could hardly see how many hints I had left or read some of the stuff that appears on screen.

Another problem was the amount of zoom they allowed you to have on the main room. I would of liked to have been able to zoom in a little more with the Wii Remote, maybe even giving me a magnifying glass effect with the pointer. Even though you are allowed to make the room as big as your TV screen by press B on the Wii Remote, I still wish it could of been a little bigger so I could of seen a little more detail.

The soundtrack in this game is almost perfect as it fits the atmosphere and does not become annoying even after it repeats over and over again. Each section of the house has the a slightly tweaked track that evolves from the previous one. Although each track has a way of melding perfectly with the game. It can eve be somewhat catchy if you happen to be paying attention to it.

Overall the game proves to be a decent casual game and is another fine port for the Wii. Although, even with Spooky Manors minor problems I can forgive it for it’s flaws. I would still suggest that you rent it first before you actually think about buying it. Just so you can see if the game fits your style of play.

As seek and search games are generally fun at first but hardly have any good replayability and can be dangerously short depending on how good an eye you have. They can also prove to be too frustrating if you have a hard time spotting what your looking for, so frustrating that you decide never to pick up the game again.

However, with it’s various co-op game play modes it can prove to be a nice game to play with the family. It also really depends on how young your children are, even since the game is rated E, the ghost designs can be a little too scary for young children, especially the screaming ones. Another thing to note is that while this game is priced at $29.99 it’s PC cousin is priced at $19.99, so if you’re a lone gamer and you are thinking about buying this one, look into it on the PC.

Overall two out of four stars.

An artist from New York. Will has been writing, designing, and loving video games since he was young. He has traveled across the United States, and parts of Canada in order to learn more about the world of gaming. After visiting E3 for the first time in 2009, he has vowed to return there and show off a game of his own. In his spare time he tinkers with electronics, programming, and of course collecting video games.