Gotcha: Celebrity Secrets is a cute and humorous hidden object game that has you looking for hidden persons instead of random items. Since you’re a celebrity blogger, you’re hunting down beautiful people at wild parties and other crowded locations, trying to find out secrets of their private lives. You can also hunt for hidden objects and solve other puzzles in your quest to make your blog the Internet’s #1 destination for celebrity gossip.
The game begins with a bespectacled blogger named Gaby with an awful day job, wishing she could out-blog her dirt-digging rival Dante. Then Gaby begins to receive mysterious text messages from a secret admirer, directing her toward areas where she can find the next big celebrity scoop. Each major piece of gossip gets its own chapter, which lets Gaby cover weddings, births, band reunions, and even some awards-night shenanigans.
Each level in Gotcha is densely populated by a crowd of people you’ll need to sort through in order to find Gaby’s semi-randomly generated list of targets. The number of people you need to find slowly increases as you progress through the game, making levels harder. In order to finish levels with Expert qualification, you need to beat them before a timer at the bottom of the screen runs out. This usually means finishing a level in six minutes or less, before solving a jigsaw or other desultory end-of-level puzzle.
In addition to the list of hidden people Gaby needs to find, there’ll be lists of bonus objects. One will be Gaby herself. Then there’ll be a bonus object unique to the chapter, either a celebrity or a small object like a baby bottle. Each level also has five stars hidden throughout the crowd, usually yellow but sometimes changing color to blend in with its surroundings.
Gotcha‘s gameplay is terribly flawed by the decision to compose the crowd scenes in collage style. Each person in a scene is drawn separately, then all the drawings layered together to create a single "scene." This approach means that the bonus objects are always easy to find, because there’s no way to really make them blend in to the background despite their small size. Gaby ends up very easy to find because the same piece of art is used for her in every level of the game.
The same goes for the other individuals you have to hunt down throughout the course of the game. While the game can generate different sorts of clues for finding someone (such as an image of the person’s upper body, an image of their silhouette, an image of their face, or a brief text description), the way art is reused means you’ll start memorizing what various people look like from the very first level. There are some people who seem to appear in virtually every level of the game, getting a little easier to find with every new appearance.
Gotcha isn’t glitchy or buggy. There’s a hint system that works well enough, though you likely won’t need it. It has a medal system meant to reward you for doing challenging things like finding 5 people in 3 seconds, but it’s hard to get excited about achievements in such an easy game.
It’s not that Gotcha delivers an especially bad play experience. The timer helps keep your attention focused as you go through a level. The storyline is partly comedic and the funny moments have some real charm to them. The gameplay becomes very repetitive very quickly, though. You’ll look for more people per level later on, but that’s the only real difference. If you play the demo for Gotcha, you’ve seen about 85% of what the game has to offer.
Completing the game’s 40 levels should take players about 3 or 4 hours. The ending is a complete letdown, which makes it a difficult game to recommend. Gotcha: Celebrity Secrets could’ve been really great if each level had used a unique drawing of a crowd scene, like Martin Handford’s famous "Where’s Waldo?" books. The heavily recycled art collages it used instead just aren’t that interesting.