9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek
Gameplay 6
Graphics 6
Sound 8

Join a paranormal private investigator as she rushes to the aid of her friend, who runs into some trouble in the town of Serpent Creek. The Secrets of Serpent Creek is probably a little too short and easy for veteran players, but casual players or those new to the genre will still find plenty to like. It is not a groundbreaking title in any way, but the story is entertaining, and the cast of interesting characters makes it worth a second look.

Gameplay: Quite short and very, very easy, but still offers plenty of entertainment.

Graphics: The usual hand-painted scenes, but nothing really memorable.

Sound: The music is good, and the voice acting much better than what the genre typically has to offer

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9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek

Developer: Tap It Games | Publisher: Artifex Mundi | Release Date: 2013 | Genre: Adventure / Casual / Hidden Object | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek opens with our heroine, a paranormal investigator, receiving a phone call from her reporter friend, Helen Hunter. It seems that Ms. Hunter has run into a spot of trouble while visiting the small coastal town of Serpent Creek. Helen was supposed to cover the town’s Snake Festival, but judging by the terror in her voice during the phone call, she stumbled across something far more dangerous. Wasting no time, our heroine rushes to Serpent Creek to discover what trouble Helen has gotten herself into and what secrets Serpent Creek is hiding.

The Secret of Serpent Creek is another hidden object game from Artifex Mundi, but this time they only handled publishing duties while Tap It Games did the development. The setting is 1950s America, which the game fully embraces with some 50’s style noir and plenty of nods to classic horror movies. It doesn’t take long after arriving in tow to discover that all is not well. Firstly, there is no trace of Helen, and not only is the town crawling with snakes, but the human inhabitants also appear to be wandering around in a daze. The plot thickens even further thanks to several suspicious characters hanging around, like the out-of-place British tourist, sinister mayor, and Sheriff, who is definitely up to something. Although most players will spot the twists a mile away, the game still features an interesting story that remains engaging all the way to the end credits.

Speaking of credits, veteran players will be seeing them all too soon, as TSoSC isn’t a very long game, and making matters worse is relatively easy. There are, of course, a couple of difficulty settings to choose from, but even newcomers to the genre should have little trouble completing the game without making use of any hints. Unlike later titles from Artifex Mundi, there is no bonus chapter after finishing the main game, and the only replay value comes from a few achievements that can be missed during your first run. Nine “question marks” are hidden throughout the game, but eagle-eyed players will spot these quickly.

The game has its fair share of hidden object scenes, but none of these posed any real challenge, and all the required items are usually hidden in plain sight. Some of the hitboxes in the hidden object scenes felt a tiny bit off to us, and a few things required multiple clicks before registering, which was slightly annoying. There are no fragmented object scenes, and all the mini-games are very straightforward to complete.

TSOSC brought one innovation to the table in the form of its “Detective Mode,” which was pretty unique at its time of release. In this mode, you must find all the hidden visual clues throughout a scene, which triggers a “Reminiscence.” This is simply a short-cut scene where your character pieces together all the clues to discern what took place in the scene. The lack of interaction beyond clicking on the clues is disappointing, but the Detective Mode at least tried something new, which is great for a genre that can quickly become very stale.

Visually TSoSC is starting to show its age, but it is definitely not a bad-looking game. Hand-painted images are used to depict the town and its inhabitants, and while not as detailed as more recent titles, they still capture the mood of the story nicely. It is also nice that the game automatically supports widescreen resolutions, which is something not all older hidden object games bother with. The game is set mainly in and around the town, so you’ll get to visit locations like the museum, Sheriff’s office, lighthouse, and the obligatory creepy mansion. Animations are few and far between, but that is about par for the course in this genre. The voice acting is actually fairly decent, which is always a big plus as far as hidden object games are concerned, and the music isn’t bad either. The sound effects, consisting of all kinds of ambient noises like creaking stairs, complement the game’s eerie atmosphere nicely.

The interface used for TSoSC is reasonably straightforward, so your cursor changes depending on how you can interact with your surroundings. For example, when it is a magnifying glass, you can take a closer look at an area, while the hand icon means you can pick up and collect something. Although the scenes are not as sprawling as in other hidden object games, you still have access to a fast travel map, making it easy to get around. A handy journal also stores the character index along with a list of your current tasks. These are handy, but due to the game’s length, most players will probably complete it in one sitting.

Although TSoSC won’t win any awards for originality and can be completed without breaking a sweat, it still merits a look if you are a fan of the genre. The story might be predictable, but we still found it very enjoyable. Also, since it is a few years old at this point, the game can also be picked up for relatively cheap, so if you are looking for an undemanding title with which to while away a couple of hours, then this one will do the trick.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 128 MB VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: 10.6.8
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 128 MB VRAM
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: 10.6.8
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 (32/64bit)
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 128 MB VRAM
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 (32/64bit)
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM
    • Storage: 1 GB available space

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