I already reviewed the iPad and Android versions of Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds and absolutely loved it … now that the Mac version is out and I have played it, let’s take a look and see how it compares!
Try your hand at investigating a crime, crack the case and catch the criminal in this perplexing hidden-object game! Detectives Turino and Lamonte have been assigned to a new investigative unit: Special Enquiry Detail. Their first case is the shocking death of the daughter of wealthy benefactors. Under pressure from the Captain and the Mayor to solve this scandalous case quickly, the two detectives must uncover the trail that leads to the murderer. You’ve got to help with forensics, investigate the clues and interrogate suspects to find the criminal and unveil the secrets and deceptions of those involved! Dive into Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand That Feeds and become a New York City detective pursuing justice.
12 Intriguing chapters
30 Realistic locations
25 Thrilling mini-games
Mix together a crime-drama mystery, puzzles, hidden objects, and tons of twists and turns and intrigue … and you have the basis of “Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds” from G5 Entertainment, which I described as one of the most compelling games made for the iPad this year.
Before I get into the specifics of the Mac version, let me give some background. Years ago my wife and I spent hour after hour across a week playing through a mystery game on the Mac. It was when CD games were a novelty, and I cannot begin to remember the game – but what I DO remember is how the fun of solving the mysteries and puzzles along the way engaged my normally non-gamer wife.
Last summer we sat together and worked through Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds over a few nights – this time aided by two teenage boys. Over the holiday break we sat on the couch with my Macbook Pro and worked through it again – and I was amazed at the extent to which everyone was STILL pulled into the story, and how much fun everyone had!
Technically the game remains identical to the iPad version, so if you liked that one – you will love it even more on the Mac. There are three main areas of interest: the story, the puzzles, and the hidden object games. Let’s take a look at each.
You spend the largest amount of time finding hidden objects using a system very familiar to anyone who has played one of these games in the past. You are in a static scene – generally a room associated with the story – and need to find up to 20 or more items hidden around the room. When you find an item you click it and it is crossed off the list and removed from the screen. When you find everything you can proceed with the story element for the location, such as questioning a suspect or gaining a special piece of evidence or clue about the mystery.
Sometimes the hidden objects are obvious, but other times they are shadows or blend against their background, or for some reason you just can’t find something. When you are stuck, there is a police badge in the lower left corner. When it is fully illuminated you can click it to get a hint, which will direct you to an item from your list. Then if you are stuck again you will need to wait until the hint indicator fills up again.
The hidden object areas raise my only criticism – and you will realize just how much I like this game when you hear my trivial complaint. Some of the items are identified using terms more common to ‘British English’ than ‘American English’. For example, in a laboratory room one of the items was a type of tube that we assumed was a piece of labware but was actually used to hold rolled up documents. All it cost us was a few minutes and using the hint button. Otherwise we never had an issue finding all items and getting on with the story.
At certain times – when the lights go out mysteriously, when an item is locked in a box, and so on – you need to solve a puzzle to proceed. These can involve swap-and-match puzzles, rotating elements, connect-the-wires, and so on. These puzzles are also quite fun – and for me the best part is that no two were alike, and also that they were spread out enough to not slow down the pace. Another great feature is that a timer bar fills as you attempt the puzzle, and at the end you can simply skip the puzzle and move along. There is no hint system, but I still recommend really trying to complete them all since they are not too challenging – but interesting enough to make you think.
Of course, all of these things are in service of the story – and Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds has an excellent story that will keep you engaged and guessing right up until the end. The main screen image for the game lets you know there is a murder involved, which occurs right at the start of the game. You will spend the next several hours getting to the bottom of the mystery and uncovering the identity – and motivations – of the murderer. For us, it wasn’t our first – or second, or even third – guess … but eventually we made sense of things just before the detectives revealed the final clue making it obvious.
The best stories are filled with memorable characters, and that is true here. At the center are Detectives Turino and Lamonte, part of a new police detail under special jurisdiction. Their actions are scrutinized due to the high profile of the case and the connections to the highest levels of city government. This is reflected as they speak with reporters, the District Attorney’s office, the police lab, and even the mayor! Each character you meet has a personality and motivations – even if many would fit nearly into widely-used stereotypes and gaming cliches.
The Mac version is basically the same as the iPad game, but the graphics are richer and more detailed and looked great at full resolution on my Macbook Pro. Clicking with a mouse is more precise than tapping, and sometimes in ported games this means that developers will make puzzles and object searches less forgiving – fortunately that isn’t the case here. As before the game seems perfectly tuned to reward you finding items while discouraging random tapping.
When you get to the end of the game you unlock ‘free play’, which allows you to return to all of the locations you visited and find ALL of the hidden objects and complete all of the puzzles. It adds even more fun to the game, since there are many things you see as you explore than aren’t interactive at the time but become interactive later on.
Another great thing – because the location of objects and object selection is randomized, each time you play things are a bit different. We noticed that when my wife was looking at an early puzzle and remarking how she recalled a different object from the last time – and had a hard time finding it, but now it was obvious (but not on the list).
Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds is one of the best ‘casual’ games I have played recently – it brings together an interesting story and great gameplay in a package that draws in anyone who tries it. And since it is free to try out (the $6.99 is an in-game purchase for the full adventure), there is no reason you shouldn’t head to the iTunes App Store now and check it out!
Here is a trailer for Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds :
Review: Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds
Where to Buy:
What I Like: Interesting mystery story with plenty of twists and turns; Loads of challenging puzzles; Detailed visuals; Excellent controls; Great port,
What Needs Improvement: Language is more British than American (as Enquiry in the title should indicate)
Source: Review code provided by publisher