Published on June 19th, 2014 | by Dembonez190
Review: Criminal Case
Developer: Pretty Simple
Publisher: Pretty Simple
Release Date: November 17, 2012
Facebook games aren’t covered much here on The Gamer’s Bench, but Criminal Case is a unique hidden object game that breaks the mold and has caught a lot of attention. With it being released for iOS devices in the near future, this is the perfect time to review it and explain why it is worth a test run before it becomes even more accessible.
Crime shows are all over television these days. There’s something about a good “whodunit” that draws people in. That is exactly the premise of Criminal Case, however unlike other hidden object games where finding objects is the ONLY way to play, Criminal Case provides a handful of other quick challenges that help it stand out against the others of its kind.
One thing that especially stands out in this game is that it does not shy away from blood and gore, nor does it hold back on any language or references to drugs and alcohol. It is interesting that these taboos that people are afraid to include in free-to-play, easily-accessible games such as this are so prominent in Criminal Case that it makes each case seem more believable and intriguing.
On top of the plot of each case are the extra puzzles. These add a new dimension to solving the crimes because rather than simply finding evidence, you must piece the evidence together by completing puzzles, digging through garbage, analyzing DNA, locating fingerprints and much more. All of this is isolated from the hidden object portion of the game. Plus, the search for hidden objects is taken up a notch with additional timed challenges and “note the differences” challenges. There are additional challenges like this that also make the game more fun to play. If friends also participate, going back to boost your score in order to top theirs also adds to the replay factor, especially since energy cost is lowered after achieving all of the stars in a specific crime scene.
Stars are what allow you to progress forward in the game. Like many other Facebook games, Criminal Case requires a lot of work to move forward unless you have real money to dish out to the game. Absolutely everything requires at least one star to unlock, and as mentioned before, the stars are achieved by completing each crime scene multiple times. You can achieve up to five per scene, and each scene costs 20 energy to enter. Since the amount of energy never increases without the help of food items and friends, it will drain relatively quickly. Again, this is just like any other Facebook game, but Criminal Case is so intriguing that it is always frustrating to be a few points away from completing a star and have no energy to do it.
Leveling up in this game is straightforward. The more you do, the more XP you obtain. There are promotions that occur many times during the week that last a few hours that either boost XP, give extra energy, and hand out coins among other things to help you progress even more within the game. These little promotional boosts are very helpful but are random meaning that devoted Criminal Case players would benefit from them much more than casual players.
Again, like other Facebook games, having friends certainly helps as well as they can provide energy and assistance during difficult crime scenes. The downside is that if your friends are not active players, it makes it difficult to unlock new crime scenes because they are required to give you their reports in order for you to move forward. If they do not play, they most likely will not help you meaning that you will be stuck until either you pay for the next crime scene or a promotion is released to unlock the next case for free. This is probably the biggest flaw that hinders progress. While Pretty Simple is certainly gaining money from this, it is also something that could turn otherwise loyal players away from the game.
Furthermore, some of the cases have unnecessary plot twists to extend the case further. Not having these would certainly make each case uneven and most of the time, much shorter. However, including evidence that doesn’t necessarily matter (like examining blood of a case that has already been shut) without good reason makes it seem as though some pieces of an otherwise good plot were just tossed in to extend the game. It’s good for replay factor, but the story takes a hit when this happens.
The characters are charming even though some of their lines are pretty corny. Still, it’s easy to become attached to your partners because they each have their own personalities while helping out with each case. For a Facebook game, the characters all have some depth. Even the suspects have backstories that make you wonder why they involved in a crime. The more you dig, the more you find out about each suspect (and there are LOTS).
The way suspects are handled in this game is really creative as well. Some may have a huge connection to the crime while others are merely witnesses who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. These are the characters that are immediately ruled out as murderers. Through a combination of investigation and lab work, the murderer slowly reveals himself or herself through a combination of identifiers. These identifiers may include scars, tattoos, hair color, eye color, perfume, etc. that ultimately narrow down the suspects to just one person. Things like handwriting, fingerprints, and the like are typically left out as identifiers because, again, these would narrow down killers to quickly, and Pretty Simple ironically wants to make the game a little more complicated. These smaller details enhance the mystery of who the killer actually is, but in some cases, it also leaves the question of why something wasn’t done. On top of that, it seems kind of odd to have an identifier like “chews gum” when it creates such a broad spectrum that it would be unbelievable to narrow down a killer based on the fact that he or she is a gum chewer. Perhaps if saliva off the gum was tested to solidify who the murderer is, but this is also left out and DNA is given a generic “blood type” identifier.
This game uses similar methods to other Facebook games to draw in an audience and hope that they pay to proceed. However, Criminal Case is also so different that with the exception of fast energy depletion, the wait isn’t terrible. It is just that you have to wait too often. It is easy to backtrack in order to remember what has already happened within a case however, and with new content being added on constantly, Criminal Case is a game that you can return to time and time again for new mysteries.
+ Separates itself from other hidden object games
+ Consistent updates with new content
+ Corny script is oddly charming
– Some of the evidence used is unnecessary while other incriminating evidence is left out
– Loyal friends are practically required to progress at a good pace
– Energy falls too quickly causing the game to progress slowly
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5