NCIS: Hidden Crimes Review

NCIS: Hidden Crimes Review

Sep 23, 2016

Make no mistake: NCIS is a cultural icon. I remember picking it up all the way back… you know, when that intense agent from the “Navy NCIS” (ha!) who first tried to put JAG darling Harmon Rabb behind bars — but the helping clear his name. With that simple beginning, that CBS spin-off has gone big, creating its own offshoots, and, for folks like us, companion games that help beget mindshare.

NCIS: Hidden Crimes is just that.

The action gets going almost immediately, with animated cutscenes allowing one to catch a glimpse of something nefarious. Then, just like on the show, Gibbs’ likeness pops up, letting us (the players/viewers) know about an untimely ncis3death somewhere in the city.

In this one, the crime has been committed, and the player, being a special agent, gets his/her “gear” on heads to the crime scene. At this point, the main foil of the adventure becomes clear: find objects. The trick, which is obvious to anyone who plays this type of game, is to pick out a list of objects that are placed in a larger scene. In this particular game, the objects are key to solving the crime at hand, starting by going into each visual puzzle and tap on the objects to “collect” them.

After objects are found, generally a secondary process begins. Evidence is analyzed and such, and eventually, a hypothesis might be formed, and, if one picks right, one might just get the person responsible.

So, the finding mechanism is enough to understand; the difficulty of the surveying task is mostly a function of the artwork in any level. It feels as though it gets tougher as one goes on, but the developer does an enviable job of using depth and simulated light to make targets less obvious to the eye. The crime-solving piece is a nice addition too.

The game feels a bit grindy in parts; the energy requirement isn’t too bothersome, and the artwork does make it feel somewhat familiar. On the other hand, it’s tough to make a hidden object game stand out, because the core element is so well known.

In the end, its hit show affiliation only helps, and the gameplay does well.

G5’s ‘Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard’ Goes on Sale on Google Play and Amazon Appstore

G5’s ‘Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard’ Goes on Sale on Google Play and Amazon Appstore

Aug 1, 2016

Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard is a a puzzle/hidden object adventure from G5, and it is on sale now on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.

Unravel the mystery of Jangada, a long lost ship stranded in the Amazon Jungle.
A great ship called Jangada set sail in the 1970s but was never seen again. The fate of the crew remains shrouded in mystery and whoever tries to reveal it vanishes forever. Embark on a dangerous trip to the Amazon Jungle, search eerie locations, find hidden objects and solve intriguing puzzles. Undo an old curse and bring peace to a tormented soul in this breath-taking hidden object game, Epic Adventures: Cursed Onboard!


● 25 Eery locations
● 10 Unique mini-games
● 8 Magnificent chapters
● Experience an astonishing and tragic story

For a limited time, it can be had for only $0.99 on the aforementioned app stores; the sale lasts from now through August 7th.


The trailer is below:

The Hunt for Red Panda Review

The Hunt for Red Panda Review

Jul 28, 2016

The Hunt for Red Panda starts out searing.

The game starts with an eye-catching flourish: comic-like stills with a minimum of color, and then transitions to fuller color to denote timelines. It’s a simple concept that works well, and somewhat highlights the core artistic aspect of the game. This is a game that should appeal greatly to anyone with even a modicum of artistic appreciation, especially when one considers the main element.

The backstory is interesting. An unkind evaluation, a burned down museum and a mysterious vandal that defiles precious artwork. The player takes on the job of a restorer that is tasked with identifying the alterations and fixing them appropriately.

This main idea pleasantly cloaks the gameplay concept: find the hidden object in a painting, sort of in a “one of things doesn’t belong” manner. A keen eye is helpful, because that laptop that is nestled in the 18th century art blends in very, very well. Some items are very subtly placed, and almost “natural” in appearance. The developer doesn’t rely only on era tricks, as one needs to look for other weirdness going on.


Basically, one has a limited amount of time to find all the variances, and then figure out how to fix them. “Reagent” is the tool that is used to identify something to be fixed, but one has to be careful, as applying reagent to the wrong spot catastrophically speeds up the clock. There are a limited amount of hints, and then one earns stars and cash based on performance… then, assuming one has all the clues needed, on to the next painting puzzle.

Puzzles are spaced out with the help of mini-games. these usually have an artsy feel to them, but are still interestingly varied.

The Hunt for Red Panda is a heady affair, what with the art lessons and breadth of content. It has a serious creative angle, if a bit short, but for premium title, it is easy to love.

The Blacklist: Conspiracy Review

The Blacklist: Conspiracy Review

Jun 30, 2016

Mobile games and the screen — big and small — are practically made for each other. There’s something catchy about shows and movies with companion mobile titles that seemingly make each more compelling. It’s a potentially symbiotic relationship that can help in either direction.

So here we get The Blacklist: Conspiracy, which is borne of the hit NBC show The Blacklist. It’s a hidden mystery caper, with a bit more, and comes to us via mobile development house Gameloft. It is smart enough to build out on a good brand, but is careful not to be overly dependent on it.

James Spader’s likeness is front and center in the persona of master criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington, and the visual representation is fairly faithful, down to main character’s telltale all-knowing smirk. The graphics are well down, earthy and focused; the attention to detail is not surprising when one considers the core element

The game starts out with stills and dialogue boxes to get the whole thing going. The player takes on the first person persona of an FBI agent Red looks to help, and Red starts out as a narrator of sorts. From there, one gets to learn about the dastardly group The Invisible Hand, and the need to stop the evil group from carrying out its plan.


It all leads to the aforementioned main element: hidden object puzzles. It’s fairly easy to understand: find the pieces required, and find them quickly. There are multipliers for really being swift, and scores are a function of speed and accuracy. Earning stars is a key task, and one can repeat levels to get by the energy requirement. One gets to “analyze” evidence with gems as well.

One nice aspect is that it isn’t just a hidden mystery game. There are mini games, and Choose Your Own path dilemmas to be tackled.

Despite this, the puzzles can feel a bit repetitive, but the other pieces make it a bit more palatable. As noted, it does well by using great source material, but not getting hamstrung by it.

G5’s ‘Myths of Orion’ Launches on Android

G5’s ‘Myths of Orion’ Launches on Android

May 13, 2016

G5’s latest game Myths of Orion (also styled Myths of Orion: Light from the North) has arrived on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.

It’s a hidden object adventure with several scenes and difficulty levels. per Google Play:

Recover three powerful books and return peace and prosperity to the Realm of Orion!
The whole world is at stake, as the minions of an evil wizard are doing their best to deliver the Books of Knowledge, Law and Magic to their master. Help young enchantress Meredith fight to retrieve these important books and stop the thieves before the Realm of Orion is destroyed by this nefarious mastermind! Use your sharp eye, pure heart and all of your wits to collect magic items, hunt for hidden objects and solve tricky puzzles and quests!


● Explore over 70 stunning scenes in four chapters
● Tackle 20 brain-teasing mini-games
● Meet 11 unforgettable characters
● Enjoy beautiful HD graphics and full motion video
● Four difficulty modes: custom, novice, adventure, challenge
● Google Play game services support

The game is free to try; the full caper can be unlocked from within via in-app purchase.

Check out the trailer:

Downton Abbey Review

Downton Abbey Review

Sep 29, 2015

Yep, it’s Downton Abbey. Enough said.

The game starts in such a way that series fans should find familiar: clan cornerstone Carson eagerly welcomes an agent to the Earl of Grantham’s residence. Early on, the idea is to solve stuff by finding stuff in “plain” site.

Completing sessions (by finding items) earns one valuable XP and items. There is also an upgrade/crafting element which comes into play and adds some complexity to an otherwise simple game.

When it’s all said and done, it is, at its core, a constructed hidden object game. The core competency sought is the ability to pick out selected items from a series of still images, and to do so as quickly as possible with as few helpers as possible. The artwork utilized reflects the time period adequately — at least, in my mind it did — and the scrolling feature that allows for more hidden objects allows the game to feel a bit more mysterious.

The artwork does have a blandness to it; I assume it’s purposely done, so as to create more of a challenge. The use of color and perspective are interesting indeed.


There is a bit of repetition with regards to objects that need to be found, yes, but the developer does mix up locations a bit to make it less predictable; as one taps the located items, new ones get populated to one is finished with the section.

My biggest challenge ended up being able to know what the heck I was looking for in the first place; either I need to watch the show more, or bone up on period history, because looking for a flagon created all sorts of problems for me. In some ways, figuring out what was what was still an enjoyable aspect of the game.

Simply put, the gameplay, familiar characters and additional elements make for an interesting ride.

Dexter: Hidden Darkness Review

Dexter: Hidden Darkness Review

Aug 24, 2015

Weirdly enough, I was one of those that picked up on Dexter fairly late in the show’s life. The series about a serial killer that gets his rocks off by hunting gruesome murders is quite a draw. Now, after the series wrap-up, it’s possible to relive it — somewhat — with Dexter: Hidden Darkness.

The gameplay starts out with cutscene images and text boxes; Debra summons Dexter to check out a body, and we get right into it. During cutscenes, it allows the player to pick scenarios, and then leads to its biggest element: finding hidden objects.

The hidden object sequences are interesting, not overly logical, and generate a point system that leads to energy gains, leveling and more. One basic idea is to gain enough energy to keep on going; if one fails, one can use real cash or allow time to run its replenishment course.

The game does get credit for going beyond being Just Another Hidden Object Game, as it packs in other elements that help create a full-fledged mystery that needs solving. It lands on the source series heavily, and as such, will be fun for fans of the franchise. Within the game itself, one gets to really do research, and the mini-games are fairly creative, if far and few between. The characters are familiar, and one does have to give a shout-out to Harry’s Code.


In some aspects though, the gameplay feels like it trips over itself. The cutscenes do feel a bit, well, rigid after a while, and the navigation feels suspiciously unneeded. While the hidden object sets are interesting, they are repetitive. The dialogue is salty in places, but hey… this is a serial killer’s killer here.

Then there is the energy requirement. The cash/credits/energy/leveling up relationship send convoluted, but to be fair, it isn’t too difficult to keep going for a good while. At points, the energy will be consumed faster than one can replenish through action, and it’s cool that time can be used in lieu of real money.

It’s a relatively self-contained experience that has the advantage of being sourced from a hit show. It doesn’t get boring soon, and is only really slowed by the energy requirement.

Fans of lovable psychopaths can do much, much worse.

Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey Launches on Google Play and Amazon Appstore

Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey Launches on Google Play and Amazon Appstore

Jul 2, 2015

G5 and Artifex Mundi are bringing a new game to Android users. This one is a hidden object mystery game called Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey.

Overcome your biggest fears in this heart-pounding adventure!
Alice Dahl is bogged down in her day-to-day routine, stuck in a dead-end office job but unable to leave due to personal fears. One day, while rushing to a client meeting in the rain, her car careens out of control and crashes. When Alice awakens, she finds herself in a hospital … or so she thinks. Help Alice defeat her inner demons, escape the mysterious place that lies between life and death and find her way back home in this incredible hidden object puzzle adventure! Conquer a mysterious Shadow and help Alice capture the opportunity, perhaps her last, to achieve a happy life.
● 80 spine-tingling levels to master
● 21 exciting mini-games to play
● 17 encouraging achievements to earn
● Eight fabulous characters to meet
● Five magnificent dream worlds to explore
● Three play modes – casual, advanced, expert
● Amazing graphics and dramatic storyline
● Google Play game services support

As noted, it is available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore; it’s free with in-app purchases. Check out the trailer below:

Dream Catchers: Beginning Review

Dream Catchers: Beginning Review

Apr 21, 2015

I feel like it’s getting to a point where actually playing a G5 game won’t even be required to judge it properly. The sheer fact that a game was published G5 Entertainment means that it’s a hidden objects type game with cool, if somewhat blurry graphics, and weird story that doesn’t seem to support the gameplay in any way. Also, it’s not going to be far from the best hidden objects games out there, for whatever reason. You’d think that if a company published hundreds of similar games, they’d get to a point where making them good wouldn’t be an issue, yet here we are with Dream Catchers: Beginning.

Dream Catchers: Beginning tells a story of a person – it’s actually unclear about the gender or the looks of the protagonist, for whatever reason – whose sister, who was in a boarding school, stopped responding to his letters all of a sudden. When driving to the school, the protagonist’s car gets thrown off the road after he sees a shadow figure on the road, and the player finds himself in a dream-like place, being chased by a smoke figure. The story isn’t that unique, but it’s got some interesting turns, and it’s alright for a hidden objects game. Also, Dream Catchers: Beginning looks good, we can get that out of the way. The gameplay part. Though, is a bit of a mess.

The main problem with Dream Catchers: Beginning, is that it’s trying too hard to not be a hidden objects game. It Dream Catchers 3contains less than a dozen actual screens, where the player needs to find a bunch of hidden objects – and for the most part, they aren’t actually hidden at all. The rest of the game is made up of a bunch of puzzles, and very lackluster attempts at puzzle game mechanics. This means that the player is sent on a wild goose chase, trying to find a whole bunch of random objects that are impossible to see, and the player doesn’t even know he needs, to fix/pass/complete some sorts of mechanisms or solve other problems. It’s basically the worst possible puzzle game, that consists largely of tapping on every pixel on the screen, as well as spamming the “hint” button just as it gets refilled – since completing the game without that is just impossible. I won’t give examples, but the “videogame logic” is left wild and loose in here.

Overall, I don’t think I’d recommend Dream Catchers: Beginning to anyone. It’s going to be really irritating and pointlessly complicated to a common gamer, since it’s made and priced for hardcore hidden-objects fans. But I’m pretty sure that those very fans are going to leave disappointed, as well. Just pick another game from the million others that G5 has cooked up, and don’t waste your $5 on this. It’s got a slightly interesting story, but that’s it.

Letters From Nowhere 2 Goes Free for Limited Time

Letters From Nowhere 2 Goes Free for Limited Time

Aug 26, 2014

Prolific Android development house G5 is in a generous mood yet again, and this time, it is offering Letters from Nowhere 2 for free… for a limited time.

The title is the sequel to Letters from Nowhere (which we had a chance to review earlier this year); this one is also a hidden object/puzzle adventure game.

From the G5 press release:

It’s time get excited for the school season to resume with an incredible giveaway from G5! Stating August 25th through August 31st, Letters from Nowhere 2 (Full) goes FREE on iOS, Google Play and Kindle Fire. Continue Audrey’s adventure in this thrilling and spooky sequel to the beloved hidden object puzzle game without spending a dime!

In this bewitching investigation, you are tasked with solving a disappearance of Audrey’s husband, a mystery that has perplexed the police. Featuring eye-catching locations, absorbing puzzles and an evolving storyline, Letters from Nowhere 2 wins the hearts of players and critics alike.

Audrey collected all the letters with the help of the dead postman, hoping they would lead her to Patrick, her missing husband. Instead, she is taken to a mysterious sleepy town. In Letters from Nowhere 2, our brave heroine discovers that her husband is a descendant of a cursed family, and is doomed to death. Now it’s up to her to confront the evil that haunts her beloved and prevent a series of grisly murders. Travel to the town of Nowhere and search for clues to remove the terrifying curse in this thrilling and spooky sequel! Search through over 30 cryptic locations including the sinister mansion and a bloody sacrifice room for important artifacts. Play mini-games, collect all the pages of a missing diary, and save Patrick before it’s too late!

Key Features:

50 Stunning locations
11 Adventurous settings
11 Mini-games
4 Useful search powers
2 Bonus play modes – Unlimited and Puzzles

The game trailer is below.

Special Enquiry Detail 2 Review

Special Enquiry Detail 2 Review

Oct 16, 2013

G5 hits up with yet another hidden mystery thriller in the name of Special Enquiry Detail 2. Yes, it’s a sequel of first game of similar name from the productive development house.

In this one, brides are being hunted by the maniacal Engagement Killer, and it’s up to detectives Lamonte and Turino to figure this out. They get tapped by special request from the influential relative of a bride-to-be.

At it heart, this game is a hidden object game. The gameplay almost immediately goes for quick identification and isolation of clues that can be used/manipulated to help solve the bigger mysteries. Interacting with characters is a huge part of the game; very useful information can be gleaned in this manner, and are almost needed. Logical sequences need to be adhered to, and in some cases, solving a current problem entails going “ahead” in the game to collect itemspec1 that can be used to solve said problem.

Mini-games are also a part of the solution process; in the one a keen eye is needed to separate wires; others are as simple as looking for specific items.

The graphics are nice, with creative cutscenes providing atypical buffer. In fact, this is one game that I looked forward to seeing how the video clips linked the story together. A lot of detail is put into making stuff look realistic, with wistful coloration adding a degree of gravity to the storyline. The dark scenes looked sufficiently spooky, and even the audio bits conveyed the plot nicely; the game uses both dialogue bubbles and audio to denote speech.

I though the graphical representation of person-to-person interaction could have been a bit more refined; the disembodied torsos weren’t ugly, just a bit weird when weighed against the rest of the graphics. Some clues are bit extraneous, but as far as flow, this is one of G5’s more polished offerings.

Which, with G5’s history, is saying quite a lot.

Art Mogul Review

Art Mogul Review

Apr 30, 2013

When it comes to hidden object games on Android OS, G5 Entertainment pretty much holds the patent. It’s offerings in that category of games truly run the gamut. Now, I would guess it’s more a question of retaining quality and keeping new titles interesting. Art Mogul is definitely a chance to see if G5 is able to do these things.

It is an adventure into high-stake world of art ownership; the ego, the taste and even deception. With cash to spend and an eye for fakes that would make Thomas Crowne sniff with jealousy, I was tasked with making a fortune, and crashing spectacularly otherwise.art1

So, it was G5 making an art game. It wasn’t too much to ask for some intricacy, and, as expected, the venerable development are delivered. I like art, and this game is an art lover’s dream, with the excellent visuals providing a most appropriate backdrop.

The gameplay was straight-to-the-point, with a quick tutorial leading me through the basics. Most tasks were based upon finding hidden objects in paintings. For example, to get started, I had to show art expertise by finding objects in the paintings to get discounts. Selling required similar. To find true gems, I had to be able to discover fakes. A keen eye and attention to detail were my greatest assets.

I absolutely loved the check mechanism for finding fakes. It used a copy layover that I could switch to continually. Every variance I found decreased the value if the portrait and increased my reputation, and I could buy or move on. Thus, I was able to increase my net value via the ability to find objects. I could travel around, finding high priced items requested by auction houses, and unlock more cities.

While I found myself entranced in the game, I can see where monotony can set in; I found myself wishing there was a bit more flesh to the story. Even an animated cutscene or two would have been welcome. Still, if anything, G5 did a good job keeping the game familiar and creative at the same time.