Ever had the desire to play detective? Investigating those creepy neighbors down the block, or that funny man next store who’s always digging in his garden… or maybe white collar crime is more abound? You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot to get a mystery work out. Suspects and Clues is a spot-the-difference hidden object game that has you playing detective in an elaborate, international antiquities heist.
A mysterious crime wave is sweeping the planet. Details (and storyline) are sketchy, and not much information is known, but this could be big. As a detective with “Inviztigators Inc.” you set out to hunt down the perpetrators and save priceless artifacts like the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mona Lisa, a Gandhara Buddha, an Angoulme Tiara, and an Odysseus Stamnos vase.
How to catch the crooks? Spot the differences between images on the left and the images on the right, and use the mouse on the right-side image to click on the changes. Each level has three “contracts” you must fill, and each contract includes 5 unique images. You only need to complete two images for each success in a contract, but beating more will give you a cash bonus. Although you can’t skip pictures, you get 3 hints for each contract, and can replay the contract as many times as needed. You’ll receive 5 minutes on the clock to start. Incorrect clicks will take 10 seconds off of the clock, and using a hint will deduct a whopping 30 seconds each time, so be sure to strategize your time.
Once you’ve completed the three contracts for a level, you’ll get the chance to nab a suspect. You’ll be shown three close-up images of a person’s features, such as the corner of a smile, an eyebrow, or a shirt collar. The quicker you can pick the right man (or woman) out of a line-up of twelve, the more cash you’ll receive. After you’ve caught the crook, you’ll be asked to piece together a letter or picture, which will hold a clue to the larger mystery. In the last four levels, these clues help you open a safe that’s vital to your mission.
Through your travels, you’ll visit locations like Tiffany in NY, the Italian Grand Prix, the Louvre in France, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Bank of England, and the Nippon Textile Company in Japan. If you’ve played other “spot the difference” games, like Enigma or Val’Gor – Dark Lord of Magic, you’ll be familiar with the game mechanics, and there’s very little that’s new or unexpected throughout the game.
While Suspects and Clues starts off fairly easy, it soon becomes very challenging. This is particularly true once you reach France. Many of the changes are deliberately humorous, like a moose in sunglasses, the word "fish" spelled out in the stars, or the burger on top of the “white castle.” Others are more subtle, like changes in the features of a Persian rug, or in a pool of algae. You can save yourself frustration by looking at the larger picture and not getting too bogged down by details – look for obvious things first, like smiley faces and color changes.
All of the pictures are either real photographs, or replicas of notable paintings. Most of them are suitably colorful and busy. There’s no music during game play, which can be good (no distractions) or bad (no atmosphere). All in all, it’s one the short side, so you should be able to beat the game in just over 3 hours. Objects and images don’t change if you play again, so the replay value is limited.
While not quite the mystery that the title implies, Suspects and Clues will send you all over the globe looking for differences in a variety of scenes. With plenty of opportunities for hints and replays, the difficulties of pixel hunting are largely offset. The story isn’t strong or detailed enough to appeal to most mystery lovers, though spot-the-difference fans should find it relaxing for a couple of hours.