Nobody said being an artist would be easy. Not even art restorers get a free ride! When a long-lost painting surfaces decades after going missing, a lot of suspicious eyes and wealthy pockets start paying attention. Lisa was simply touching up the masterpiece before it would be sent to auction when a mysterious figure breaks in and makes off with the painting. Her life devolved into vague threats and shadowy figures at her doorstep ever since, but because you’re so friendly and persuasive, you managed to get an interview with her. Now if only she didn’t disappear the moment you said “hello”.

Off the Record: The Art of Deception is a modern day hidden object game that lets you explore a sleepy but scandalous European mountain town. You’re on a quest to get that painting back so Lisa can get on with her life, but it looks like there’s more intricate machinations at work beyond simple art thievery. Your adventure takes you through the village and surrounding areas as you gather all sorts of items, interact with them in a variety of ways, and put them to use to solve puzzles that deepen the plot’s budding mysteries.

With Off the Record’s hidden object scenes, you’ll find both text list and silhouette styles as you explore the countryside, each one packed with interactive items highlighted in yellow. You’ll have to move stuff out of the way, zoom in, or even create these objects from scratch in order to collect them. Need to locate “two birds”? Try folding that piece of paper into an origami bird, that should count, right?

The Art of Deception also throws a lot of creative mini-games and related diversions your way, everything from sneaky morphing items to quick-fire assembly puzzles and more traditional tile sliding or matching riddles. They’re all pretty predictable in the grand scheme of things, but because they’re straightforward and frustration-free, you’ll have a fun time solving them.

Outside of its structured gameplay, Off the Record keeps things focused on character rather than setting. A lot of hidden object games rely on creepy mansions or jump scares to provide long-lasting entertainment. With The Art of Deception, most of that is replaced with people, real and believable people! You’ll encounter a wide variety of small town and big city folk in your journey. Each one has a story somehow relating to the painting, and each one fits into the overall whodunnit-style mystery. It’s fun just seeing who you’ll run into as you pick your way across town and country.

Off the Record: The Art of Deception does a great job taking the gimmicks out of the hidden object genre and providing an honestly entertaining game. It comes across as a little basic, maybe even barebones, but as soon as the story tickles your intrigue you’ll be happy to keep solving puzzles until the very last mystery is resolved.