Mix together a crime-drama mystery, puzzles, hidden objects, and tons of twists and turns and intrigue … and you have the makings of one of the most compelling casual games made this year. The name of that game is “Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds” from G5 Entertainment, and I reviewed the iPad release earlier this year. Now it is available for Android! Let’s take a look and see how the port stands up to the original release!
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
Note: as this game is identical to the iPad version, and since I didn’t run into any show-stopper bugs or problems, this review will largely focus on the same areas as the iPad review. Near the end I will specifically address a couple of Android-specific issues, but largely whether you get this game is a matter of personal preference.
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.
This week we sat together and worked through Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds over a few nights – this time aided by two teenage boys. I was amazed at the extent to which everyone was pulled into the story, and how much fun everyone had!
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 tap 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 tap 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.
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.
As for how the Android version compares, I played on my Acer Iconia tablet, and the system G5 put in place recently to optimize data downloads definitely worked – I was playing the game in a matter of minutes. On the 7″ screen things weren’t as clear or easy to pick out on the iPad, but I still had no difficulty with the controls. Load times were longer, but still not an issue.
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 $4.74 is an in-game purchase for the full adventure), there is no reason you shouldn’t head to the Amazon Market 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: Android Market
Price: Free Download ($4.74 in-app purchase)
What I Like: Interesting mystery story with plenty of twists and turns; Loads of challenging puzzles; Detailed visuals; Excellent controls
What Needs Improvement: Language is more British than American (as Enquiry in the title should indicate)
Source: Personal copy