When Ivanovich Games released Time Geeks [$0.99] back in 2010, we were fans of how the title took hidden object games to the next level with a unique and highly stylized look combined with a cool aura. With the release of Time Geeks & Friends [Free / $2.99], Ivanovich has upped the ante with the inclusion of asynchronous multiplayer. While Friends adds more of everything that made the original popular, the multiplayer is the real star, and makes this game worth checking out.
If you haven't played Time Geeks before, feel free to check out our review. In short, Time Geeks is a pixel-art based hidden object game that has you traveling back in time to various eras searching for specific people. At the beginning of each match, you're given the era, map, and targets. Your goal is to tap on all the targets before the timer runs out. Matches are scored based on how many targets you find as well as how fast you find them. Power-ups such as added time, cloud removal (which partially obscures parts of the environment) and power scope (which lets you easily find targets for a few seconds) offer aid for those that need it. Each power-up (as well as matches themselves) require coins that are replenished over time.
The main addition to Time Geeks & Friends is multiplayer, which allows you to challenge any Game Center players with asynchronous multiplayer matches. Winners are awarded with experience which goes towards an overall rank. Rank up and you earn the right to choose from more avatars. A chat system also allows you to trash talk between matches. There's something to challenging and playing against other people that raises the stakes and makes Friends even more enjoyable than its predecessor.
Meanwhile, Friends retains the awesome imagery that made the original fun, and the targets have been updated to include more characters with many based on popular culture icons both fictional and real. It's rife with personality and the backdrops themselves are fun to explore, which can be a problem when you're trying to find specific characters in short order. While Friends looks great on all devices, the retina-enabled iPad really gives players an advantage with its ultra-clear imagery at even the most zoomed out modes.
Time Geeks & Friends comes in two flavors, a free ad-supported version that features multiplayer only and accumulates coins slower, and a premium version that is ad free, accumulates coins faster and includes 'Kids Mode,' what is essentially a single player mode without a timer. As the multiplayer mode is at the heart of Friends, it's worth checking out before deciding whether to splurge on the premium version.
While Friends does include some freemium aspects in the sense of the coin system that is continually replenished over time, I never felt compelled or even pushed to buy IAP. Players start off with 15 coins, with one coin required for each match. Power-ups also cost one coin each and collection gets replenished at a rate of one every five minutes. While this eventually leads to a point where you have to wait to play, I never had an issue with the cap -- mainly because the nature of the asynchronous play meant that I was waiting awhile for my opponents regardless.
That's probably one of the only issues I have with Time Geeks & Friends: matches have a tendency to take too long to complete. I've been playing for a few days and I have countless games that my opponents never finished. Considering you only receive experience for complete wins, it's annoying to spend coins in furtherance of matches that never seem to finish. With this in mind, I'd recommend sticking to friends that you know will complete games with you.
Still, this concern is relatively minor in the great scheme of things. Time Geeks & Friends is still an excellent hidden object game and is a great evolution of the original. The inclusion of multiplayer combined with the expansion of an actual ranking system are more than enough to to keep you coming back for more. While some will undoubtedly be turned off by the coin currency, I think the majority of gamers will find it nonthreatening.