It seems that crime mystery stories are starting to become popular again with television shows and movies featuring super sleuths, and video games have since joined in the fray. Titles such as The Testament of Sherlock Holmes have done well in capturing the spirit of the classic detective story for the 2010′s. The undying genre of point-and-click adventure games is perfect for mystery titles such as this one, 9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek.
9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek is a hidden object puzzle adventure game from Artifex Mundi and G5 Entertainment. The setting is a town in the 1950′s called Serpent Creek, and you play as a female detective who was suddenly contacted by a panicking reporter named Helen Hunter, who was assigned to report on a town’s snake festival. She was being pursued when she called, and she has now gone missing under mysterious circumstances. Upon hearing distress, the heroine jumps into her car and rushes towards Serpent Creek post haste.
You must now follow the clues and get to the bottom of this mystery, which unfolds and becomes quite a creepy predicament that only the bravest could ever face. 9 Clues indeed does get quite creepy as it seems that there are always eyes on the protagonist and the situation always goes awry just before she gets to a scene. But with powers of observation and deduction, you can find clues through hidden object segments and solve puzzles in mini-games to get closer to the truth. If you play at the easiest difficulty level, you can get plenty of hints and assistance; you get much less of it in the harder difficulty level.
Serpent Creek does genuinely have a creepy atmosphere, and you get so much of the story with great use of economy in the narrative. As you progress through the story, just about everyone in Serpent Creek seems to be suspicious and you are kept at the edge of your seat with all the distressing things going on in the seemingly quiet town. The developers were also gracious enough to let you access your map and fast-travel to wherever you need to be through it, which is quite nice. It also indicates which locations currently have actions for you to take, which makes your task much easier.
At times, when you come across a room where something just happened, you go into Detective mode, wherein you pick out the clues that could help the protagonist figure out what had just occurred. You know when you’re about to go into this mode when many question marks appear on your screen, then you’ll be required to find clues. Once you’ve gotten all the clues, a horizontal bar appears with all the found clues, which the lady detective then put in sequence to run back what just happened in that room before you went in. This is actually quite a good part of this game, and it really helps with setting the detective tone of the narrative.
Some of the art and presentation does make for some head-scratching though, like some parts of the art being rather underdone, as well as various parts of the interface being either oversized or too basic and clunky. For instance, the journal and map being beside each other means that you may accidentally access one when you were meaning to get to the other. Most of the visuals are drawn well enough, although there are certain parts when it looks a bit off. They are pretty much enough though to show how the story goes and create tension in the air as everyone seems to conspire against you and your investigation, so it’s not too bad in the long run.
If you want a good detective story with some fun puzzles and hidden object gameplay, then you could get this for your iPad or iPhone and do quite well with it. It’s a puzzle adventure game that is far from mediocre due to its story, even though it does have some rough edges. The gameplay is not bad as well, which should make players not feel bad about purchasing it at all.
Tested in iOS. Final Score: 7.5/10