The Secret Society – Hidden Mystery HD – iPad
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: MyTona
Release Date: Nov 21, 2012
Genre: Hidden Object Adventure
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 3 of 5

The Secret Society – Hidden Mystery HD is another entry in G5 Entertainments growing stable of HOA only this time the publisher is experimenting with a freemium delivery model whereby the initial game is free up front and they hope to encourage you to spend some money on the backend of the purchase once you are hooked. They tried this with their puzzle-platform, Jumpster back in September and now it’s back in a HOA game.

The story was totally lost on me with this one, so I approached The Secret Society as a straight-up puzzle game, which is pretty much how it is presented. You have a series of pictures that will launch a series of hidden-object screen quests. Complete these to earn XP that will in turn unlock more screens and puzzles. It’s a nice system that continually rewards you as you advance, but you also have that nagging energy bar that is slowly depleting as you play the game.

G5 hopes that your impatience and desire to keep playing will cause you to spend real money on crystals that will fuel your energy bar and allow you to keep playing, but as long as you have another distraction handy, it is just as easy to stop playing and wait for the game to notify you that enough time has passed to refill the energy bar on its own. Considering most of G5’s games cost upwards of $4-6 I’ll leave it up to you as to how much you want to “donate” to the game in the form of crystal purchases.

As far as the game itself, it is pretty much like every other HOA in the G5 library with great graphic backgrounds loaded with “stuff”…LOTS of stuff of which only very few items need be found…at least at first. As you get further into the game and revisit these locations over and over you’ll need to find more items but these often include the same ones you found before and they are often in the same spot.

The game also mixes things up with some other puzzle varieties like pipes and blocks, but these are nothing new to the genre or the people who play it. There are over 100 quests and 36 collections of items to find spread across a dozen locations. The game updates itself with new quests to hopefully keep you coming back and spending more money on energy crystals or any of the 65 items you can purchase to aid in your quest. And unlock other G5 games that must be purchased separately on the iPhone and iPad, you can enjoy this game on both so you can experience the sharp retina graphics and iPhone 5 widescreen support.

This all sounds like a lot of promising content, but sadly The Secret Society – Hidden Mystery HD lacks any real challenge and with no compelling narrative to drag you along for the pixel-hunt the whole experience starts to repeat and ultimately turn into a transparent cash grab for those who lack the patience to wait for that energy bar to fill on its own. I had some casual fun with this game for the first few days, but the repeated notifications and badge icons started to annoy me and The Secret Society had to get dumped to clear space for other more stimulating and entertaining HOA games from G5.