Despite being the tenth game in the long-running and hugely successful HOG series, Mystery Case Files: Fate’s Carnival is actually a sequel of sorts to the fourth game in the franchise, 2007’s Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate, as it marks the player detective’s return to Madame Fate’s carnival and all of the mystery and wonder that is swirling around inside. But while the carnival setting itself might seem rehashed on paper, this time around everything in Madam Fate’s world just seems so much livelier, and Elephant Games packs on the content and inventive puzzles to match. I hope you picked up a carnival day pass and have your pockets lined with tickets, because you’re going to be enjoying your time at this spooky fair for quite a while!
Truth be told, I didn’t feel like there was much of a story to accompany the action of Fate’s Carnival at first. The player detective simply shows up at the titular carnival and references repeatedly through the dialogue that you had been there once before on a previous case. The majority of the game will simply involve your silent character moving through the carnival, and saving various carnies in distress: like the Amazing Larry, who’s somehow found himself irreplaceably sawn in half, or the Strong Man, who’s found his muscles being pushed to their limit in a hellish gauntlet of sorts. There’s also the occasional scare or two, which actually made me jump in both their sounds and execution.
However, that’s certainly not to say the story never heats up as more mysteries and evil forces gradually get introduced, and that it doesn’t lay the foundation for all sorts of carnival magic and wonder to crop up along the way. You’ll also be given a spooky ghost cat by Madame Fate at the start of the game, who will help by reaching certain items that are well out of your reach, or scaring bats and attacking fish for your own personal gain: just like any good ghost cat would do. This adds a unique component to the exploration segments of the game, as you’ll often forget that the ghost cat is exactly what you need to solve a puzzle when you’ve exhausted all other options in your inventory. Read more »