- Release Date: December 2013
- Publisher: SMART INTERACTIVE
- Developer: SMART INTERACTIVE
- Genre: Hidden Object Game
Psychic Clues is a new hidden object game from a developer with practically no web presence at all: Klug Company. Before you instantly write it off for being a hidden object game on Facebook, you should know that it left me pleasantly surprised and kept me hooked throughout my time with it.
You see, there are several things that Psychic Clues does right that stack up to make it one of the best hidden object games I’ve ever played. First and foremost, it has a compelling theme that actually makes sense of why you’d be looking for hidden objects in the first place. You play a psychic consultant to a crime scene investigation unit. You need to search crime scenes for clues which can then be examined further by the forensics department or your own extrasensory perception to reveal more info about the murderer. Psychic Clues does a great job of integrating the core hidden objects gameplay with the story and various mini-games. Finding clues, examining them, interviewing suspects, and eventually accusing the murderer feels really cohesive and is packed with enough content to keep you coming back two or three times for each case. Finally, Psychic Clues has a bunch of tiny details like great visual menus and cool loading screens that show the developer actually put some love into this project.
The tutorial case covers a woman who was murdered at a candy shop. The tutorial is quick and easy to complete, so I will be spoiling it to explain some of the game’s features. After some lightly humorous dialogue between you the psychic consultant and the detective who brings you in, you’re sent to the scene of the crime. You’ll find some insignificant objects as well as the victim’s body, which is obviously a major clue. After you finish the first scene, you send the body to forensics which requires you to wait out a short timer before you get the results. The wounds let forensics know that the perpetrator is most likely left-handed and that the weapon was a regular kitchen knife. They also found that she still had a piece of candy in her mouth.
That piece of candy is a hotbed for psychic activity and it’s your turn to step up to the plate. You focus your mental energy with a little mini game involving two red marbles. The first marble slides back-and-forth over the screen horizontally. You must press a button to stop it within a target circle surrounding the candy. The second marble does the same thing vertically. If both marbles are within the target, you gain the insight you were seeking. If not, you must try again with both marbles. Anyway, the candy gives you a vision of the actual murder. Psychic Clues shows you a short animation of the events immediately leading up to the murder and then freezes. You can now enter the vision as a hidden objects scene. There, you’ll find a clue that informs you the murderer didn’t know what to do with the knife so it was hastily hidden in the candy shop.
This bit of information takes you back to the candy shop, where you play another round of hidden objects to find the knife and some brown hair. The clues you find through dialogue, forensics, and psychic perception get added to a profile of the perpetrator. Once your profile is detailed enough, you can view the list of suspects and accuse one. The case is completed once you correctly identify the guilty suspect.
The hidden object scenes in the tutorial are black-and-white but the hidden objects are in color. This obviously makes them really easy to find, but it’s a nice touch so the player can focus on learning the mechanics instead of finding objects. As soon as you make it past the tutorial case, all of the scenes are in full color and the investigations become more complicated, incorporating more scenes as well as adding the ability to interview suspects. Sending clues to forensics starts a timer that can range from seconds to hours to complete. Using your psychic powers on an object, interviewing a suspect, and accusing a suspect are all actions that consume the stars you earn from hidden object scenes. These stars are based on your cummulative score in a scene, so you may need to revisit a scene a few times to generate enough stars to hunt down more clues. It’s a fun process and, like I said at the top of the interview, the different tasks you go through to solve a case feel really cohesive and form a story that’s engaging enough to keep you interested.
There are a few systems in place that will slow down your progress. It’s disappointing, but as a free-to-play game, it’s not really surprising. There is, of course, the timers in the forensics department that may require you to come back in an hour or two before you can progress in the story. If this is the case, you can at least replay scenes to get some more stars. The real hard stop comes when you run out of energy. That’s right, you’ve got an energy bar and it costs a fifth of that bar to enter a hidden objects scene. The rest of the processes don’t require energy (and some of the mini-games even reward energy). As can be expected, you can recover energy by waiting for it to regenerate on its own, asking your Facebook friends for their assistance, or by paying up with real money. You do earn experience as you progress through the game. Leveling up means a full refill of your energy and a slight boost to your max energy.
Psychic Clues is really the full package as far as hidden object games go. It’s got a decent story and set of things to do beyond searching for hidden objects. When you are searching for objects, the scenes are beautifully hand-illustrated. The murder visions in particular are vibrant and dramatic. Each scene has sixty or so unique items hidden within that look like they belong in the scene instead of being slapped onto some background. I usually complain when objects are in the same place every time you play a scene, but I think it really works here. Partially because having objects in certain places is necessary for a scene to make sense and partially because there are just so many hidden objects that each time you play a scene, you’ll be asked to find at least one thing you haven’t found before.
Psychic Clues currently has only five cases, including the tutorial case, but the latter four are long enough that you’ll need to wait for your energy to recover once or twice to finish each one. I’m sure the game will be updated over time, but it is currently a pretty short experience overall. The hard stop from running out of energy is the only major negative, but you’ll find that in almost any hidden object game on Facebook. If you’re not already a fan of hidden object games, I don’t know if this will do enough to convince you otherwise. It’s still a hidden object game at its core, even if it got a lot of things right. That said, I personally found myself genuinely impressed with the game — and hidden objects games are not normally something I enjoy. Psychic Clues is far and away one of the best hidden objects games I’ve played. It follows that if you are a fan of hidden object games, this is a no-brainer.
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