With hidden object games now so prolific that they constitute an entire genre, from haunted houses to fabulous vacations and even weddings and honeymoons, you’d think developers would’ve exhausted every possible theme such titles could feature.
Well, guess again: Going one step beyond the usual mystery/suspense motif, latest outing Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos puts you in the shoes of globetrotting crimestopper Operative X, hot on the trail of once-MIA, now newly-resurfaced Cold War-era criminal mastermind, Dr. Chaos.
Building upon this concept, the game’s presentation skillfully plays off the whole international sleuthing angle, delivering a gorgeous and attention-getting array of menu screens and backdrops to delight the armchair undercover agent. From mission briefings that look like detailed computer readouts to cluttered scenes set at atmospheric, clue-riddled locales such as the Kremlin or Charles de Gaulle Airport, featured audiovisuals do a great job of reinforcing the overall cloak-and-dagger motif. That goes double for sound effects and music, which really help evoke the spirit of each scene, from traditional Japanese tunes to ragtime ditties.
We can’t say the premise – locate bizarre items such as horses, pyramids, thermometers, croissants and shepherd’s staffs on backdrops bursting with color, personality and (of course) a dizzying array of red herrings, all before time runs out – proves as singularly engaging. But the execution’s fairly well done, with the designers even going so far as to hide sought-after pieces of evidence in unexpected locations, such as incorporating them into stamps, signs and murals scattered about already-jumbled 2D environments.
Mind you, you’ll want to watch out for spotty collision detection – clicking on an item doesn’t always successfully select it on the first try – and occasional unexpected twists, e.g. vague clues that can reference everything from street signs to statues. But, by and large, the setup’s the same and successful as it’s ever been for the category, right down to a limited number of hints you can request, and the several dozen-odd items you’ll need to find to clear each stop on your journey and mission.
Interpol certainly earns points for character. Giving the game such a compelling backdrop and setting the action at familiar landmarks such as Radio City Music Hall and Tokyo’s Imperial Palace is a stroke of genius sure to endear the title to the average man on the street. But there’s little here you haven’t seen before, including interstitial mini-game challenges, which ask that you spot differences in two photographs, or locate X number of errors or animals. Therefore, within the first hour, you’ll already have seen quite a bit of what the title has up its sleeve – and, if you’ve previously purchased outings in the Mystery Case Files or Travelogue 360 series, wonder why it’s worth bothering going much further.
Then again, flush with eye-catching graphics, killer tunes and a proven gameplay formula, perhaps the desktop amusement is just what your inner James Bond ordered. Download the demo today and see for yourself: A capable outing in its own right, The Trail of Dr. Chaos inevitably leads to an afternoon or two of solid fun, but whether or not it’ll prove worth your hard-earned dollars is going to be largely subjective, based primarily on the featured theme and associated window dressing.