Evil geniuses and their henchmen are typical video game fare – not so in the casual games department. In casual games, the characters are not so much “evil” as “weird,” “wacky,” or simply “insane.” Interpol – The Trail of Dr. Chaos (I-TTDC) is unique in this way; instead of endearing us into playing the game, it tries to present a story that actually makes sense. As this “story” (the quotes indicate a level of sarcasm) progresses, we are led through a series of very well deigned levels with well placed objects, and treated to truly lovely music.

Any hidden objects game lives and dies by its scenes. Dr. Chaos does not disappoint. Every scene is very well designed – all the objects in Tokyo look like they belong there, and a “candle” in Tokyo does not look like the one in Rome, and I don’t believe I’ve see the same pair of sunglasses appear in more than one scene. That, in itself, is an accomplishment – too many hidden object games “borrow” objects from one scene to another noticeably. The level of detail and thought that went into the design is astonishing; there is a distinct feel to each scene that makes each one unique, and yet share a style that makes it belong with the rest of the game.

Usually, each scene in a hidden objects game is only 4/5th populated, and the rest taken up by the hud. Dr. Chaos is no different, but plays on this fact by populating the entire screen, then moving the hud from one side to another to expose a different part of the scene depending on the mission. So even though there are only 20 scenes to hunt through, it feels as though you’re getting quite a bit more.

I-TTDC shares some of the common problems inherent with games of this genre. Objects are always in the same places, so with repeated visits, it’s pretty easy to find everything within the first minute or less. Moreoever, the game doesn’t seem to remember what list of objects you were given in the last mission. You could be presented with mostly the same list, back to back, from one mission to the next.

One little pet peeve of mine: I can’t stand the fact that I have to wait until something is crossed off my list before I can click on something else. You may say that MCF games do the same, but I don’t see why I can’t just click on an object when I see it, and if I see three of them at once, click on them in succession. After having seen most of these scenes 4 or 5 times each, I could pick out anything within seconds.

I clocked my game in at 5 hours and 25 seconds. Considering that there are 20 missions (I lost count – I believe it was 20) ranging from 30 minutes to 63 minutes each, it should take me a whole longer than that. I finished off each mission with a lot of the clock left to spare. So it’s not an esspecially difficult game, particularly if you are adept at the genre. Most of the difficulty in this game is in the sheer SIZE of the missions. The last mission asks for over 100 items in an hour. I found them all in about 10 minutes.

I-TTDC have some interesting mini-games. The usual “spot the difference” game is there, as is the “spot multiples of this object” game. A new addiction, “spot weird stuff happening” sparked my interest. It’s a new idea, and it has some funny moments. There are 10 things to look for in each scene, and the text caption for what you clicked on comes up on the right.

If you’re looking for the next well-made object hunting game, look no further. From the gorgeous visuals to the beautiful music (each area has its own theme and believeable – not cheesy – ambient effects), Dr. Chaos is a well rounded, beautifully made game that’s definitely worthy of a chunk of your gaming budget. It loads quickly, switches to other programs on a dime, and has a forgiving clock.