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Publisher: GameHouse    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.2

Diamond Detective
May 10, 2007 | Michael Scarpelli

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The obligatory title screen
Diamond Detective is the latest in the continuing trend of gem matching games. The matching genre has long held sway over the casual gamer, but gems are especially in vogue these days. Must be all that "Pimp My Ride" and "MTV Cribs" the kids are watching these days. The gameís premise aside, it has, I must say, one of the oddest gameplay quirks that Iíve ever experienced, but weíll get to that later.

Diamond Detective plays to me like a mash-up of the Mystery Case Files games and Bejeweled. The gamer is presented with a grid of various jewels. The grid changes shape level to level, which has a fairly large impact on how easy a level will be. The goal is to make matching strings of gems and clear them from the level by clicking and dragging the mouse over adjacent gems to make chains, or simply by clicking on them one by one. When gems are cleared, more take their place and the gamer continues clearing gems until they reach their gem quota or the levelís timer runs out.

The storyline purpose to this is that the gamer is attempting to recover gems stolen by one of 10 members of a notorious jewel thief gang. The time limit on each level is measured by how quickly the thief that the gamer is hunting is escaping. At the end of each level, the gamer uncovers a clue. After five levels have been passed, this will result in enough clues to narrow down your suspect. On the clue screen, you match each recovered clue to the criminal that it eliminates as a suspect. When this is done, the sole remaining thief is your culprit and the sixth level of the series will bring them to justice while switching up the gameplay paradigm a bit. For this level, the gamer must make matches on the board that involve each and every square on it. Once every square has been used (theyíll turn orange so you can tell), the level is done and the thief is caught.

To throw twists into the gameplay, Diamond Detective offers a variety of ways to make combos. When a combination of six or more gems is created, a diamond is formed, replacing some other gem on the board. This diamond acts as a wild card, earning extra points when a chain is made using it. Linking multiple diamonds in each chain is the way to rack up big points. Later in the game, the gamer will also be introduced to true wild gems, allowing the gamer to change the color being used in their chain partway through. Other gems allow for a transfer only between two specific gem colors. These wild card and color transfer gems exist to allow the player to rack up points using multi-color combos. Certain gem spaces will lock out areas of the board until a match is made involving them. Others are frozen and unusable until a match is made next to them, and others are coals just waiting to be diamonds, via matches being made in their vicinity.

All this, combined with a board layout that changes with each level, and Diamond Detective has enough variety to make it engaging, but only for a short while. On itís own, the game gets stale after 20 levels or so, but there are a series of trophies to unlock for reaching certain point totals or making chains involving a certain number of gems, a certain point total or a certain number of colors. These are particularly tricky to achieve and are what kept me coming back to Diamond Detective. I love me some trophies.


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