Puzzle play action in Mystery P.I. Portrait of a Thief consists of a series of timed chapters linked to the mystery of who raided the art collection of your client, Kensington Billingsley. The goal in each chapter is to find a set list of items and answers hidden throughout the urban landscape of the gameplay area and solve any additional puzzles that are presented to you along the way before your allotted 30 minutes runs out. Each list consists of ten items, which are displayed on the DS' top screen and are ticked off the list as you find them. The actual puzzle-solving happens on the lower touchscreen of the DS/DSi, where players can use either the DS stylus or button combinations to identify hidden items and answers. Along with seek and find puzzles, where players have to find specific objects hidden in a larger jumble of items, the game also features word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, pair matching challenges and more. Players start the game as a rank amateur sleuth, but with success rise in status and gain points. Along with the challenge of seeing how many can be accumulated, points are also valuable in that they can be used to buy hints when/if players get stuck.
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