A Mystery at Sea

Since I’m on a total girl detective binge, I couldn’t resist downloading The Mystery of the Mary Celeste. (There is a 1-hour free trial. The full version is $19.95.) A historical mystery? I’m a sucker for those. And the promise of discovering a possible solution to what happened to the passengers on the real Mary Celeste was enough lure for me. On November 7, 1872 the Mary Celeste departed New York. It carried 37-year-old Captain Briggs (an experienced captain), his wife, young daughter, a crew of eight, and 1700 barrels of raw American alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy. The ship was found adrift at sea, still fully stocked with no sign of pirates or foul play. The ship had only been at sea for a month. There was plenty of food left. And everyone’s personal belongings – including valuables – were still on the ship. There were no people though. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a story about the ship but the mystery has never been solved.

Playing this game is a bit like reading a mystery except you have to solve a hidden-object puzzle to turn each page. You’re faced with a messy scene — all aboard ship — and you have to locate specific items in the mess in order to solve the puzzle. Find all the items and some of them reveal another clue to what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste in this dreamy, ghost-inhabited, historical puzzler.

This game is not nearly as difficult as the Nancy Drew mystery my daughter and I tackled last week. In fact, this is a nice casual game I am using today as a “coffee break.” Instead of getting up from my desk to hit the coffee machine (or, worse, the candy machine) I load up the game, solve a couple of puzzles, and get back to work. It’s a nice mind break and I’m slowly exposing the various theories about what happened back in 1872.

I wish there was more story between each puzzle, though. As it is, I get a few lines of story – maybe as much as two paragraphs – and then it’s back to puzzle solving. I like the idea of having to do a bit of work to get past a cliffhanger chapter ending. But that’s not quite how this works. There is more puzzle than cliffhanger. Still, I’m enjoying it. And my daughter loves these hidden object games so I’ll solicit her help when I need to get more theory.

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