I’d like to make a bold assertion; publisher G5 Games and developer Floodlight Games have got a winning franchise on their hands. In 2010, Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand the Feeds was one of the best mobile hidden object adventures of the year and its sequel, Special Enquiry Detail: Engaged to Kill, is set to be one of the best PC titles of 2012.
The stars of the series are New York city detectives Lamonte and Turino, a familiar good cop/bad (well, not really bad–more like, aggressive) cop combo whose job is to solve the department’s toughest homicide cases. This time, they’re after a serial killer who’s targeting pretty young brides-to-be and purposely leading Lamonte and Turino through the murky lanes of his twisted psyche.
What’s best in my view, about the Special Enquiry Detail games, is the practical way they implement typical hidden object mechanics. I for one, am fairly tired of playing a hero who picks up random objects, fiddles around with random arcane puzzles and hunts through hidden object scenes for no good reason. Many games in the genre are a mere collection of hidden object scenes strung together by the thinnest of stories. The Special Enquiry games by contrast, provide logical motivation for everything you do.
Supporting that approach, the game’s hidden object scenes are generally triggered only after you need something. You don’t just walk up to random piles of trash and say, “I think I’ll stop chasing the killer and dig through this garbage!” Instead, you’ll (for instance) find a panel you need to unscrew from the wall and then realize you should dig for a screwdriver in a nearby junk drawer. The game’s hidden object scenes also add to the believability by including only items that make sense within the context so you don’t find pinwheels and birthday cakes in the back of some guy’s trunk.
Another way Engaged to Kill maintains credibility and pulls you further into the story is by having a greater degree of interactivity. If you have to unscrew a lightbulb, you actually have to move the mouse in a round-and-round motion, or if you need to jiggle a something loose, you move the mouse in a jiggling kind of motion. It sounds like a small thing, but it does a lot to help you identify with the heroes.
Aside from great interactivity, Engaged to Kill offers an unusual variety of fun puzzles that (barring one evidence analysis puzzle that left me totally scratching my head) challenge you in unexpected ways. You’re not always unlocking something – you’re actually doing things that make sense within a criminal investigation, including forensic work, evidence analysis and chasing suspects. I enjoyed the chases in particular, since they brought an element of suspense to a genre that in general, is utterly lacking it.
Finally, what’s best about the game is its team of co-heroes, Lamonte and Turino. Both of them offer amusing observational comments when investigating crime scenes, and the banter between the two is often a hoot. In fact, the story as a whole (thanks to writer/designer Steve Ince) is pretty entertaining–certainly better than many a prime-time crime drama.
Special Enquiry Detail: Engaged to Kill is a really good game; there’s no other way to say it. With likable characters, creative puzzles, fun dialog and a compelling mystery, it’s one of the best hidden object games released this year.
For more information or to download the game, go to G5 Games’ official website.