Two dead bodies have been found in a luxurious New York apartment. That means it’s time for detective Carrie Chase to contemplate the lure of corruption, man’s inhumanity to man, and where the level designer hid that stupid matchbook.
Masters of Mystery: Blood of Betrayal is a hidden-object game wrapped around a romantic police procedural. You follow Chase from scene to scene, searching for items on a list of clues. Find all the clues, and you’ll unlock the next scene. You’ll also take some trips to the city crime lab, where you’ll play minigames to match license plate numbers or reassemble shredded papers. As you play, Carrie gets to know her handsome partner better, worries about some long-standing abandonment issues, and solves the case.
Murder was the case.
Blood of Betrayal has a “timed” mode and a “relaxed” mode, but it’s easy on either setting. Each scene gives you plenty of time to find all the objects on your list, and the realistic look avoids the eyeball-popping confusion of more challenging hidden object games. There’s no scoring system to worry about, and you can hit the hint button as often as you like. The game is built to help you succeed.
Hardcore gamers might want more of a challenge, but the low difficulty works well with the story. Searching the scene immerses you in the game, especially when you use tools like a flashlight or ultraviolet light to reveal clues that you can’t see in the normal view. Chase’s reactions to the more important clues add new information, so even though you’re just following the game’s cues, your contribution moves the story forward.
As for the story itself, it’s typical for the genre. The plot has a few twists, and the dialogue has a lot of cliches. The characters are likable and the voice acting is competent. The ending is a little disappointing– it’s rushed, with too much talking and not enough peril– but we enjoyed the events that led up to it.
What’s interesting about Blood of Betrayal is that playing it is less like playing a video game and more like sitting down to read a book or watch an episode of a television show. Some of that is the genre and the plot, which would fit neatly into an episode of Bones or a Patricia Cornwell novel. But if you think of this game as a television show, then the interactive elements are there to keep your attention while the story unfolds — and isn’t that something television networks are now trying to do with their own ‘second screen’ apps for popular shows?
Masters of Mystery: Blood of Betrayal is a good hidden object game, but it’s not a classic. The $4.99 price tag for unlocking the full game would be equally well spent buying a mystery novel or some television episodes on iTunes. But with novels, television drama, and games drawing ever closer together and being consumed on the same devices, you have to wonder: Are we reaching a point where these three formats are starting to blend? Is the interactive novel or television show finally starting to emerge as its own art form?