JetSet Secrets review
JetSet Secrets is a new Facebook-based social game from EA, originally announced at the end of August. It’s a hidden object game with a distinctive 1960s spy movie aesthetic and aims to provide a few new twists on the usual formula seen in the genre.
Beginning with a non-skippable tutorial which introduces players to the game’s basic concepts, JetSet Secrets unfolds over two main components, much like other examples of the genre. Firstly, there are the hidden object scenes themselves, and secondly there is an isometric-perspective building section through which players can earn bonuses, unlock content and express themselves.
The hidden object scenes initially appear to be rather conventional — players must find objects from a list as quickly as possible, with score bonuses given for locating objects in rapid succession. Once all the objects have been found, the player’s score is added to a cumulative total and earns progress towards several trophies. Players may also compete against friends, as each scene has its own leaderboard.
There’s a twist, though — this style of hidden object gameplay, referred to in-game as “Classic Mode,” isn’t the only way players will interact with scenes. Sometimes in-game objectives will require that the player take on a scene in “Blitz” or “Spot the Difference” mode. The former of these modes players with finding as many objects as possible from a large list against a countdown timer; the latter splits the screen into two almost-identical halves and requires players to click on objects that are present on one side and not the other. These differing game mechanics add a nice amount of variety and help prevent JetSet Secrets from being just another Gardens of Time/Hidden Chronicles clone.
The building section, meanwhile, is rather straightforward. Placing down buildings rewards the player with air miles, which are required to unlock subsequent hidden object scenes. Some buildings also unlock access to “hint” items which may be used in the hidden object scenes, and these buildings may be upgraded to make the items more effective or cool down more quickly. Generally speaking, upgrading buildings requires the collection of various arbitrary resources either through simply playing the hidden object scenes or by asking friends. Occasionally quests will also demand that players simply have a certain number of a resource on hand without any real narrative justification — it feels like a rather forced way to “encourage” players to socialize, not helped by the fact that expanding the area available for building also requires a particular number of friends to be playing, nor by the fact that the game regularly pops up obtrusive and difficult to dismiss “Invite Friends” dialog boxes without asking.
Besides the enforced socialization features, JetSet Secrets allows players the usual visiting privileges for their friends, but also allows them to take on a special challenge once per day per friend called “Friend Files.” Here, a scene and game mode is randomly selected and the player is then able to play it for free without the normal expenditure of energy required. Upon successfully completing it, they are rewarded with “social points” and other rewards.
It’s clear throughout what JetSet Secrets is trying to do — spin a convincing, if exaggerated, parody of 1960s spy movies. However, as is so often the case with this type of game, the “business” side of things constantly butts heads with the “creative” side. Players may want to see how the story progresses but find themselves stymied by a friend gate or paywall, at which point they may simply give up in frustration if they do not feel they have had a good experience for free. A rather large degree of immersion is destroyed by the fact that the EA logo is obtrusively plastered over every game screen, too — it’s on every loading screen, hidden at least once per hidden object scene and it’s embossed on every single coin the player picks up. While it may sound like a minor issue, the immersion-breaking “business” elements of the game mount up and make it very clear on a regular basis that players are, in fact, just playing a Facebook game and not actually playing the role of a 1960s-style detective.
Ultimately, though, if players find these elements palatable — and JetSet Secrets certainly isn’t the first to display these issues — then there’s a good game underneath, with some nice ideas on show. If players are willing to recruit several friends to play regularly, they will have a satisfying, fun experience. For those looking for a hidden object title that is satisfying for solo players, however, it’s probably worth looking elsewhere.
At the time of writing, JetSet Secrets has just launched and is displaying figures of 2,000 MAU and 700 DAU. Follow its progress over time with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A good hidden object game with some nice ideas, but the feeling of “enforced socialization” gets a little tiresome and obtrusive at times.