Threads of Mystery is a Facebook-based hidden object game from Playdom. The game has been showing activity since May of this year but has been enjoying some significant gains recently, as well as a spot in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center.
Threads of Mystery is a narrative-heavy game in which players are tasked with investigating the murder of a young woman named Rose. The ghost of Rose assists the player in the initial stages, but a number of additional characters show up as the narrative progresses, giving the game a strong “adventure game” feel rather than being a string of seemingly unconnected hidden object scenes loosely tied together by a weak story. This feeling is further enhanced by the fact that the hidden object scenes are presented as “hotspots” around various locations, giving the player a real sense of actually moving around and investigating rather than simply picking scenes to play from a menu.
The hidden object scenes themselves are very conventional, with players receiving bonuses for finding items accurately and in rapid succession. Up to five “stars” may be accumulated in each scene, and some quests require players to achieve a particular star rating before progressing — though these “grind-heavy” objectives are actually kept to a relative minimum compared to some other examples of the genre — including those from Playdom. Instead, objectives often demand that the player locate a specific clue or material in the scene to advance the story, which provides some good context to what the player is doing while they are rummaging amid all the teacups, peacocks and discarded candlesticks that are scattered around Paris.
Outside of the hidden object scenes, players have a “fashion house” to build up. Like in Playdom’s other titles, purchasing decorative items for this personal space not only allows the player a degree of self-expression but also contributes to a “spirit” meter — when this levels up, new scenes are unlocked in the story.
This isn’t the only way progression is managed, however. Threads of Mystery is a somewhat unusual example of the hidden object genre in that it also includes a crafting component. Certain questlines require that the player have particular items in their possession, many of which can only be acquired by constructing crafting equipment in the fashion house and then using various materials to create the items. For example, relatively early in the game, the player needs to get into the Moulin Rouge, but is unable to do so if they are not wearing a cocktail dress.
Some materials are hidden in the normal hidden object scenes, some may only be acquired through gift exchanges with friends and others may only be found by visiting friends’ fashion houses. Once all the materials have been collected, the item takes a period of real time to complete — a period which, as usual, may be bypassed using hard currency. Indeed, most of the material collecting and quest objectives may be bypassed with hard currency.
Notably, though, while these “social” objectives are in the player’s quest log, there always seems to be something else they can also get on with doing by themselves, minimising downtime and frustration at friend-gated content. This is a good implementation of social mechanics that encourages players to invite their friends to play while ensuring they always have something to do. Disappointingly, this doesn’t preclude the game from regular popup nag screens to invite friends and send gifts, most of which cause the game to switch out of full-screen mode any time they are clicked.
The game monetizes through hard currency and an energy system, both of which are relatively unobtrusive. The energy allocation the player gets is relatively generous, and relatively frequent level-ups tend to refill it before it empties, at least early in the game. Premium items, meanwhile, allow the player to customize their fashion house as they please, and also provide a significant bonus to the “spirit” score, allowing for more rapid progress through the story.
All in all, then, Threads of Mystery is an excellent addition to the hidden object genre. Its gameplay fits well with the narrative, the “building” component carries the interesting new crafting mechanic to elevate it above its rivals, and the story itself is compelling enough to keep players coming back for more. It’s a strong offering from Playdom that deserves to enjoy some success.
A good addition to the hidden object genre; while not overly revolutionary, all its systems mesh well together to create a much more coherent experience than some of its rivals.