Hidden objects reveal promise in Masters of Mystery on Facebook
Developer Big Blue Bubble is taking a chance with its new Facebook game release, Masters of Mystery Online. The title is a hidden object game that tasks users with finding various items within a mess of a picture in order to unravel a murder mystery. Since HOGs on Facebook tend to be a bit hit or miss, Big Blue Bubble has supplemented the game design with a bit of story and a functional virtual space for users to decorate.
You start out in the apartment of a murdered woman connected to the world of high fashion. Little information is presented in terms of suspects and motives, and thus you must work your way through various potential crime scene investigations in order to discover who would do such a grizzly deed.
For each level, the play is fairly standard as far as HOGs go. You are given a list of items to find, and you must click on them to do so. Upon finding everything required, a sharable score is awarded as well as a sum of cash that is affected by that score. What stands out as different is that the score is based on time, items found, and accuracy (clicking randomly will cause you to have to wait to click again). Moreover, finding items in rapid succession adds a multiplier to the score. Eventually, you will also unlock levels where you must spot the differences between two images rather than find objects.
The cash earned is the primary reward, as this is then used to purchase decorative elements for a virtual detective’s office that you are granted. The visuals look great, and it won’t take long before you earn enough cash to make your space look appealing. This is more than just a superfluous addition, however, as Big Blue Bubble takes a page out of Playdom’s playbook and its gameGardens of Time (easily the most popular HOG on Facebook).
Each item placed in your space will increase your “Reputation.” As this increases to new levels, more hidden object levels are unlocked. This works in reverse too, as playing levels is what earns experience, which unlocks better items for the virtual office. It’s also worth noting that levels take energy to play, but there is so much that they can still be played several times in one sitting (making virtual currency-purchased energy recharging items somewhat pointless). The only downside is that replaying levels is often dull.
You are able to earn different medals for levels (e.g. bronze, silver, gold), as well as achievements, but Masters of Mystery has a tendency to reuse the same items. Once you have played through a level once or twice, finding everything is completely trivial. Moreover, when first starting out, you will end up playing the first level or two multiple times. Adding to the triviality are several hints that users can buy and use periodically, such as a magnifying glass that zooms in on an object.
The other qualm is that the pacing of story is very slow. This makes any narrative Big Blue Bubble has taken the time to create easily forgotten and nothing more than a background element. With the noted Gardens of Time, players had an idea of what was going on within their first sitting, and it was compelling. Here… not so much.
On the social front, you can add friends and visit their virtual office at any time. The real benefit, though, is that you are able to play a daily bonus game called a “Cold Case” from their space. In this hidden object round, you have 60 seconds to try and find as many items as possible (out of 64). It is scored the same as normal levels, but actually very, very hard.
Overall, the core gameplay of Masters of Mystery is still relatively fun and other than a weak story implementation and moderate repetitiveness early on, nothing feels tacked on. It is also worth noting that Masters of Mystery will likely see several quality updates considering its developer, which has previously released solid games like Burn the Rope and Burn the Rope: Worlds.
Masters of Mystery is presented with high quality visuals, well made sound, and fun gameplay, and is well worth a play.