Review: Cate West The Vanishing Files

Note: As part of Blend Games' continuing commitment to covering every aspect of the video games industry, we have started a push to include the games that most game sites don't focus on; games that don't get much marketing, games that most people consider "shovelware", and games that are targeted towards females. We believe that every game deserves its chance, and these games have been largely overlooked for no good reason.

The Wii is the perfect console for point-and-click adventure games. It come with a built-in pointer (the controller) and the system still feels very casual and relaxing. It's surprising that more companies haven't created new point-and-click games, or even companies like LucasArts porting their old games over. It could be that point-and-click adventure games became very insular and unfriendly to outsiders, and companies are afraid that nobody will purchase the old style. Thankfully, the team at Gamenauts and Destineer have created a game that shows how great a console the Wii can be for these types of games, while being very friendly to non-gamers.

Cate West: The Vanishing Files is essentially a hidden object game similar to the old "I Spy" books. You play as Cate West, an author whose father was killed when she was a child. Fast forward to the present day, and through a series of events, Cate ends up helping the police investigate crimes because she has a mysterious power to pull out evidence from seemingly random items.

The game is split up into five different types of investigation, and each of the 15 chapters contains them. Starting out, you search a few locations for hidden items for clues. Then, you're taken to a few other locations where you must find evidence hidden in a picture. From there you move onto comparing pictures to images in Cate's mind. After that, you take all the clues you've gathered and compare it up against 8 possible suspects. After choosing the correct suspect, you then return to one of the crime scenes to recreate it by adding the items back.

Throughout all these investigation phases, you're aiming the Wii remote at the screen and clicking on the items. You can zoom in with a magnifying glass, and you can also use a flashlight to lighten up the area you're looking at. It's a very simple game to play, and if you ever get stuck trying to find that last knife/fish/pitcher, there is a very handy hint system that is always available to you.

The best thing about Cate West is how incredibly simple it is for people around you to help. Take, for instance, my wife. Initially, she was laying on the couch surfing the internet while I was playing, but I'd keep seeing her peek over her laptop to watch what I was doing. Eventually, she sat up and started telling me where all the items I was missing were located. From then on, she was my co-pilot throughout the entire game. The game does feature two multiplayer modes; co-op and head-to-head. Co-op allows a second player to use a separate remote to investigate clues, whereas head-to-head challenges both players to complete the searches faster than the other for more points. While I appreciate the inclusion of an official multiplayer mode, I found it wholly unnecessary; it was just easier to talk it out and find the stuff together with the one pointer.

The only downside I found while playing was that it's incredibly easy to get burnout on the gameplay. Suffice to say, Cate West is best played in small doses, maybe a chapter at a time. Sitting down for a longer session of four chapters was more than enough for me in one sitting. Cate West: The Vanishing Files doesn't actually do anything new; it simply combines point-and-click adventures with I Spy, but that's more than enough for what it is. Being able to rope the wife into actively playing and enjoying herself is a definite plus, and hopefully this will be a gateway into more adventure titles.

Players:1-2 players

Platform(s):Nintendo Wii (reviewed), DS, PC



ESRB:E 10+