Remember all those “find the hidden objects in a picture” puzzles? You’re all probably too young to remember Highlights magazine, but they always had one in the back. Well, now there’s an iOS game that’s all about finding hidden objects in a photo, and it’s complicated to the nth degree. It’s also a farming game and it’s freemium so you could end up spending all your money on it.

Mystery Detectives: Blackwood and Bell is essentially a “find the hidden objects” game. Blackwood and Bell are solving a mystery and at each location, you identify the clues in the scene. Tap on the items listed below the picture, and find several items in a row to get a combo multiplier. The game is simply locating the items in a cluttered frame, but the characters Blackwood and Bell tell you the story of a mystery where the potion bottle you found in the opera house ties in with something you found in the back alley.

In between photo games, you build a city, farming game style. As the mystery progresses, you’re supposed to build new locations where you’ll search for clues. You need help from social media to complete some construction requests, or use gold to hurry up the building process. This is a unique twist on freemium farming. Usually if you’re patient enough to wait several hours or days, you can avoid paying for your buildings. In Blackwood and Bell, you have to do a little legwork getting Facebook or Game Center friends to join up with you. (I’m Fr3top in Game Center if you want to join me.)

You do still need patience as well. Each location you visit takes 10 energy, indicated by the little lightning bolt. If you run out of energy, you’ll have to wait until you build up more before you can play again. Or, you can buy more energy with real money. Me? I’ll just wait a few hours. That’s not to say you want to put the game down between every scene. On the contrary, it’s pretty addictive. I may save up a whole bunch of energy so I can explore the Chemist’s Shop five times in a row and earn more stars for that scene.

The clue hunting game is really fun. The pictures are so full of objects that it can be really hard to pick out the few clues you’re looking for. Add to that, this is Victorian era London, so there may be a few items called by confusing British names, or just antiquated things we don’t even know about today. I mean, a flagstone? What the heck is a flagstone? You can call on a hint to narrow down where the clue is, but you’ll also want that combo bonus. A good strategy is to locate the first four clues before you tap anything, then grab all four clues in a row. Oh, and if you think you can just tap randomly until you find something, Blackwood and Bell have figured you out. After just a few random taps, the game will black out for five seconds to remind you it won’t tolerate random tapping.

The graphics are gorgeous. They’re basically still frames but they’re really awesome still frames. They’re a treat for your eyes, which is good because the game gives your eyes a major workout scanning the corners and backgrounds for tiny items. There’s music and sound effects too but I turn them off. They’re not bad, just unnecessary. It’s a visual game, so I don’t want anything breaking my concentration.

I’m enjoying the challenge of the hidden object puzzles, and as with any farming game, I get possessive over my little city so I want to build it up. I’m less intrigued by the mystery and in fact don’t even remember the storyline. Whatever, as long as it leads to more puzzles and new additions to my city, I’ll keep playing.


App Store Link: Mystery Detectives: Blackwood and Bell for iPhone & iPad | By Disney | Price: Free | Version: 1.2 | 43.9 MB | Rating 4+7.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating