The pulp detective genre has been been around for decades, and there have been a fair share of video game stories based in that world. While most have applied the tried and true adventure game aesthetics, not many have ventured beyond the typical trappings that so suit the gumshoe. However, Moonshot Games is taking a new approach by putting its fedora-wearing anti-hero in the puzzle genre. It works surprisingly well.

As anyone who's ever read a single dime novel detective story can attest, the root of all trouble is a woman. While Third Eye Detective's lead starts his night off working a case on his own, it isn't long until a mysterious redhead enters his office looking for help. A painting has gone missing, and she needs your help in recovering it, no questions asked. Money talks, and no detective worth his coffee-stained desk can say no to a dame like this. Of course, following the blueprint almost too perfectly, nothing is as it seems, and the recovery of the painting only opens up more mysteries. What little narrative there is in Third Eye Detective might be full of genre tropes, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The game fully embraces the classic vibe and feel of a pulp novel, and unabashedly sticks to the plan through and through.

Moonshot Games

What sets this private dick apart from the competition is his ability to read minds. When trying to sneak in and out of various maps without detection, that's a skill that tends to come in handy. Third Eye's enemies all have varying vision cones. Entering those lines of sight alerts them to your presence, and they then give chase. Some enemies are slow and unarmed. Others are fast, and come equipped with automatic weapons. The vision cones can cover the whole map when in alert status, but there are obstacles you can hide behind to keep the enemies guessing. With your inherent psychic ability, you can see potential paths the thugs, goons and hired guns will take when inspecting an area. This is all in aid to help you find the quickest path through a map without worrying about being seen or caught.

Sometimes being seen is unavoidable, but there are a handful of tricks at your disposal both in strategy and in additional powers. The detective moves simply by swiping your finger across the map in whatever path you choose. Sometimes a single path will work immediately. Other times, you'll have to delicately dance around the architecture to avoid getting spotted and/or shot. Additionally, as you progress, things like motion detectors are thrown into the mix, calling attention to your location. These can be used to dupe enemies, too, though, as the AI isn't so smart it won't fall for a variation of the "tap on the left shoulder, while standing on the right" trick.

Moonshot Games

Advancing to the goal will take some experimentation on later levels, as the number of foes increases and the hiding spots decrease. That's where your extra abilities come in handy. You can temporarily freeze all thugs in position for a short duration, become bulletproof or activate a distraction. These are limited in use at first, though you can buy more for a nominal fee. The good thing is, you never need them to progress through the game. Every map is completely beatable without them, though we did test a couple out to see how well they worked. Freeze is easily the best and most useful in a tight spot, and the leg up it gives you makes some later maps really, really easy. You do also get some power-ups in-game that are tied to specific stages. The speed burst and remote noisemaker are great additions, and figuring out how to use them properly adds another level to the strategy involved in escaping with your life.

There are three chapters available to start in Act One, with Act Two and Three adding in even more content. Both can be bought for an additional $0.99 each. There are nearly 40 maps in the game to start (with 120 total in all three Acts), so the game does come with plenty of content to tide you over for the initial $2.99 price. We'd much rather pay for more levels when we like a game than to incur fees to simply take another turn in so many of Third Eye Crime's free-to-play contemporaries.

After you add in Third Eye Crime's instantly appealing noir art style and terrific classic score, there's really no reason not to enjoy the experience. There's plenty of challenge for more savvy players, but the difficulty ramp doesn't exclude new players from enjoying all Third Eye Crime has to offer. It's a smart and stylish game, and one that definitely scratches the wannabe gumshoe itch. Third Eye Crime might not do much different or new, but it does it right. That's all that matters.

This review was completed with a code for Third Eye Crime for iOS provided by the developer.

App Store Link: Third Eye Crime for iPhone and iPad| By Moonshot Games I Price: $2.99 | Version: 1.0 | 141 MB| Rating 9+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating