An unwritten rule in cop films and television series is that every partnership must be composed of detectives with polar opposite personalities to ensure a reliable source of conflict and amusement for viewers.
G5 Entertainment's sharp-eyed investigators Lamonte and Turino certainly fulfil this criterion, but it's unlikely we'll be adding their names to the list of iconic duos seen in Starsky and Hutch or Lethal Weapon.
Occasionally masquerading as a point-and-click adventure, Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds makes good use of the iPhone's touchscreen in an immersive story-driven hidden object game, let down by its overall lack of interactivity.
Based in New York, Lamonte and Turino have been tasked with solving the murder of Carmody Phelps, a teenager killed in her bedroom while her parents attended a charity fundraiser.
The story unfolds across twelve chapters with visually impressive, if rather static, scenes scattered across various Big Apple locations.
These are complemented by reasonably well-written dialogue, including snappy exchanges between the investigative duo, which serve to demonstrate their contrasting styles and burgeoning chemistry.
Scene of the crime
The story is primarily advanced by meticulously searching each location for hidden objects, clues, and evidence.
These objects range from weapons and drugs to more mundane objects, such as glasses and pipes, and are collected by tapping them on the touchscreen.
Some of these items aren't as easily spotted as others, meaning that turning up the brightness level of your display may be of some benefit. If you are still stuck, a generous hint system will point you in the right direction without penalty.
Evidence can also be found at some locations. Extracting these vital clues from the scene often involves making use of your inventory: manipulating tweezers to procure bullets from a wall, for example.
The analysis and documentation of evidence constitutes one of the various mini-games and puzzles included in the game. These brainteasers feature intuitive touchscreen controls, and are perhaps the most interesting and varied elements of Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds.
Book him down
The final method of investigation involves the interviewing / interrogation of witnesses and suspects, although this is largely limited to cycling through text, rather than pointing to specific evidence à la Phoenix Wright.
Although the forensic tasks and puzzles are undeniably engaging, the game is mostly about finding objects that often have no connection to the story.
The use of inventory items provides occasional moments of point-and-click interaction, but these instances are rare. Combined with the liberal hint system, the game feels far too predetermined and easy.
However, when viewed purely as a hidden object game, Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand that Feeds proves difficult to dislike or criticise. The snappy repartee between the pair of protagonists, allied to the varied mini-games, means you are compelled to see what happens next in the story.
More variation and player input would have been of great benefit, but this is still a decent detective adventure well worth investigating.