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S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail

Score: 60%
ESRB: 17+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: G5 Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Puzzle (Hidden Object)/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail has seasoned detectives Turino and Lamonte once again traversing around New York solving murders. The map is large and sprawling and shows 30 possible cases on the board to be solved, but if you are like me, you'll probably never get to more than a handful because you don't want to spend a ton of money to try to get to those cases.

S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail is a free-to-play game where you can purchase in-app power-ups to supposedly make your game more enjoyable, but this system breaks down when you have to make in-app purchases to simply make progress in the game. By the third case, I had already spent $10 and was still struggling, based on the ridiculousness of the Hidden Object scenes and what they wanted you to locate, but more on that later.

The crime scenes that you'll visit are nicely done, although as with a lot of Hidden Object games, they are strewn with all sorts of extraneous stuff to confuse you. Some of these items will later become things on your list you'll need to tap to pick up. In a given case, you'll revisit the same three scenes over and over and over, picking up the same items, only the list will expand to include more items and, more importantly, the items will become smaller and more well hidden. Sometimes, there's barely an edge of an item peeping around a tree or, in the case of an apartment or yacht you'll search, they started placing the items outside the window or into the water, respectively. Sure, it's fair game, but it's a little tricky. The items look appropriate, but will fade in color as the levels become progressively more difficult and can change in size as well.

The background music sounds appropriately crime solve-ish and film noir, and the sound effects are well done. Little ambient sounds in the background will occur and they work well for the scenes.


S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail is a very difficult game for me to review. Having previously played other excellent Special Enquiry Detail games, I came into this free-to-play Hidden Object Adventure with high hopes, but they were soon dashed. Previous games in this series had intriguing plots, interesting locales, great sound effects, and really fun Hidden Object scenes, but what I was greeted with in S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail was an altogether different animal. Sure, there were Hidden Object scenes, but the player is forced to visit the same scenes over and over, collecting the exact same list of items, albeit it expands as you progress and the methods required for finding items will change. You will eventually be forced to locate items in Silhouette Mode only or in Night Vision Mode, where the room is black and you must use a shoddy and jumpy spotlight to find items, all the while the merciless timer is ticking down.

In order to do pretty much anything in the game, such as analyze something in the lab, interview a witness, etc., you must earn stars and these can only be earned by - you guessed it - visiting the same H.O. Scenes again and again. Sometimes you'll interview a witness, ask him one or two questions, and then be sent right back to him a short while later only to ask a new question. Naturally, you'll need more stars. While you can't buy more stars, you can buy blue badges which serve as a type of currency in the game used to purchase power-ups that you can use in your H.O. scenes. However, the kicker is that you'll use the money you earn completing the scenes (more money and stars the faster you complete the scene), but you get to buy power-ups right before you do a scene and they can only be used in that scene. If you don't end up using it then, you've lost your money. What? These include a power-up to increase the money you make by 6, to locate two items at once when you use a hint, or to add a little bit of extra time to your cruel timer. But hey, if you haven't already purchased a flashlight hint with real money/blue badges, then spending your hard-earned, in-game cash to buy a power-up that allows you to find two items with one hint won't work, since you don't have any hints.


S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail is a Hidden Object Adventure and there is no tweakable difficulty selection. Your difficulty comes in having to find objects in a very short span of time so that you can earn stars to progress. As the levels get more difficult, the items becomes smaller and hidden in more ridiculous places. To complicate matters, there is some poor collision detection, meaning tapping on an item doesn't always mean the game will recognize that item and you may have to tap it several times, typically resulting in a penalty where your bonus bars for the successive and rapid finding of items (which increases your score) are taken away and sometimes you'll even get a 5 second penalty deduction from the already tiny amount of time you have to complete a level. Not cool.

Game Mechanics:

S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail plays like most other Hidden Object Adventures in that you go to crime scenes and find items to further your case. What sets it apart is that you'll also conduct interviews and investigate clues at the crime lab to give things a different twist. There may be puzzles, like torn up pictures to reconstruct and such, but again, you'll need a star in order to do this task. You might need a blood sample analyzed, which can be done at your lab for a star and it will also take 3 hours or so, real time, or you can pay to have it sent to an "outside lab" and have it done immediately.

There are some bonus items (hints) that you can use to further your investigation while at a crime scene like a flashlight, which will point you to what you need to do next, if you are stuck, much like a standard hint button. Naturally, these cost blue badges, more of which can be bought with real money at the store.

I have a very love/hate relationship with S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail, mainly because the S.E.D. series of games has been so stellar in the past, and as a free-to-play game, S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail simply fails. Although I recognize that a few updates have been made to make the game more playable, such as changing the life meter from 45 points (enough to play 3 Hidden Object scenes) to around 100 or so points, which allows the player to play the game for more than 5 minutes at a time, it is still not enough. A free game should be inherently fun without spending real money. Sure, if you want to speed the game along, spending real money should help you do that, and it does, but gimping a free game such that you get a few levels in and it becomes miserable to even play because you can't make much progress without buying things just doesn't cut it for me. Personally, I'd much rather pay a reasonable price for a game and be able to enjoy it fully, without these ridiculous restrictions and the need to make constant purchases, so for me, the free-to-play model just didn't work at all in S.E.D.: Special Enquiry Detail. But hey, it's free, so feel free to check it out for yourself. As for me, I'll simply mourn the passing of a great H.O. series and hope that they bring back the series in its full glory in the form of a game that costs some money, but is well worth the price.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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