iPad Game Review: The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery Review
Reviewed by JadeDragon
The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery is another hidden objects title from G5 Entertainment. It's built around a story of a young man whose uncle had just disappeared and he was pulled into a world of secret society and hidden mysteries. As with most hidden objects games, the story matters very little to the gameplay, but The Secret Society showcased some awesome images inspired by the theme of secrecy and mystery. The Secret Society offers sharp graphics with Retina Display support, relaxing music and over a hundred goals to achieve. The game has bonuses/power-ups, accompanying puzzle games and the publish promises more updates that will unlock more adventures in the future. The only thing that prevents this game to be the perfect hidden objects title is the artificial pauses the game design puts on the gameplay that make the experience disjointed and take away the enjoyment.
The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery has all the right ingredients that make for an excellent hidden objects game. The game offers 12 locations that look vastly different from one another. The scenes are beautiful and they reasonably set with just enough clutter but not too much. Items you need to find have sharp rendering, and you should have no trouble distinguish them from the background once you've found them. So no cheap tricks here. All other features of hidden objects gameplay are here including finding items based definition, picture, silhouette and night mode. The game offers in-game tools such as hints, extended timer, lanterns for night mode and more, and it also gives you many bonus items before you start a level. The game also offers several popular puzzles including blocks, pipes, memory match and picture puzzles.
The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery has a very controlled and scripted pace when it comes to gameplay. The game offers you over 100 quests, like finding objects that you can piece together to make into your Collections. It's fun to have goals to play for, but the game won't let you unlock levels until you've played the previous ones over and over until you get these rare items to put the pictures of next levels together. And that's not even that bad since the gameplay keeps the repetition interesting by switching between different modes of finding hidden objects. What is very annoying is that it uses an artificial timer that makes you wait until you have enough "Energy" to play the next round again; essentially make you stop playing for a few hours before you can continue.
When you first play the game, you get only two locations/scenes to play with. As you repeat enough times finding the same items, you'll eventually get the picture pieces you need to unlock new scenes. Since the game is free, it uses time delay feature to get you either wait for the "Energy" to regeneration or you give up waiting and buy Cappuccinos that give you energy via IAP. So it costs $1.99 for 16 gems and it costs 5 gems to buy one Cappuccino. If you're an impatient person, you can spend a lot of money very fast. Or you can just use gems to unlock the next picture without find the pieces, and it costs a lot more to unlock the pictures prematurely. Instead of charging you for the game, which would have been preferred method to play the full version, the game breaks up the fluid gaming experience and cannibalizes its awesome gameplay with high price to get over the time delay. That ruins an excellent hidden objects game entirely.
Graphics & Sound
The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery has sharp and colorful graphics that look great on the Retina iPad and iPhone 5. Each scene fits its location with items and decor that match the style of that particular locale. The hidden objects blend in with the theme but stand out when you see them from the background. The game offers beautifully created title images, menu pages, and all other non in-game screens. Everything looks polished and gorgeous. Animations are fluid also, but the game's load time is uncharacteristically slow.
The Secret Society has nice and relaxing background music that goes well with the gameplay. The game also comes with a full compliment of sound effects for actions such as found correct objects, completed a level, finished a puzzle, etc. You can turn on or off the background music and/or the sound effects on the title screen.
The Secret Society - Hidden Mystery has all the attractive features an excellent hidden objects game should, an intriguing story, a good number of locations and hidden items, multiple playing modes, excellent graphics and good music. The game also offers enough variety of puzzle games and interesting distractions with non in-game bits. The only thing that stops this game to be enjoyable, and it's a big obstacle, is the forced pauses you must take in between games or else you need to pay up big to continue to play.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -5- Beautiful, sharp and colorful. Looks great on Retina Display. Sound: -4- Relaxing and fitting music, enough sound effects to keep audio interesting. Controls: -5- Responsive, smooth and easy to use and understand. Gameplay: -3.5- All the fun elements of a good gameplay are all there, but hindered by the monetization to a crimpling degree.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Make sure you check the quest prompts, completing quests get you rewards including money and gems. So be sure to do the quests and complete the collections.
Don't forget to play the puzzle games on top of the scenes. They'll get you some key items as well.