High school student Becky Brogan has a knack for solving puzzles, and wants to be a detective some day. Her curiosity leads her to investigate a supposedly haunted mansion for a school research project, and she quickly discovers that Meane Manor does indeed have its share of sinister secrets. These secrets are yours to discover in this back-to-basics hidden object game.
Becky Brogan: Mystery of Meane Manor definitely has an old-school feel to it that long-time fans of hidden object games will recognize. The scenes are extremely cluttered, and the goal is simply to hunt for all of the items on the list. Unlike most of the older games, however, there’s no time limit to stress you out as you’re hunting.
Instead of using a rechargeable hint meter, there are a finite number of hints in Mystery of Meane Manor. You can earn more by finding and clicking on any cats you find. Additional help comes in the form of Grandma’s Locket, which reveals a silhouette of any item from the list that you click on. When a hint is used, the locket emits a sound that gets more intense the closer the cursor moves to the item. For hard of hearing gamers, the locket also changes color from red to green, and starts to vibrate if the cursor is directly over the item.
An evil-smelling mist creeps into the mansion as the sun goes down, preventing Becky from staying there overnight. So in between exploring the mansion itself, Becky takes trips to the library and her study at home. Items are always in the same place each time Becky revisits a scene, but the list of items she has to find vary.
There are no mini-games or adventure elements to Mystery of Meane Manor, beyond collecting the occasional "special item" to be fed into a mysterious fortune telling machine. In other words, the crux of the gameplay involves backtracking through the rooms of the impossibly cluttered mansion searching for random items like jugs, cans, golf clubs and centipedes.
Occasionally you’ll come across a diary page or newspaper clipping that reveals more of the story. These excerpts can be dense and text-heavy, and you can skip them if you choose, but you would be missing out on the story completely since this is the only narrative in the game.
The plot is spooky enough, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the writing in games like Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst or Princess Isabella: A Witch’s Curse. There’s little sense of forward motion; rather, the game quickly starts to drag as you retread the same locations looking for diary pages, tokens and keys. It’s not at all compelling.
Worse still is the fact that the scenes aren’t particularly attractive. The graphics appear low-res and blurry, and players could easily go cross-eyed looking for some of the tiny and indistinct items, which seem to have been slapped overtop of the scenes with little thought to composition or aesthetics.
In short, Becky Brogan: Mystery of Meane Manor just comes across as one of those games where not a whole lot of care or effort was put into its development. In a market that’s now completely flooded with hidden object games, there are dozens of examples of games that have better production values and are more enjoyable to play.