Criminal Case wastes its chance to be a gritty HOG.
Hidden object games (HOGs) often take us under the sea, up among the clouds, or deep into mossy ruins. In fact, it’s rare to come across a HOG that doesn’t feature beautiful, calming hidden object scenes. It makes sense: It’s difficult for a HOG to innovate, so the games’ creators strive to draw the prettiest pictures. Criminal Case for Facebook, however, crosses out the rainbows and unicorns with a big bloody “X” and opts for gristly, even disturbing images of crime scenes. While the change is welcome (depending on how morbid you are), the game itself is intolerably slow.
You play Criminal Case as a rookie cop who needs to crack some cases, typically of the bloody variety. You study crime scenes by clicking on different objects scattered through the area. The faster you click, the greater your score and your reward (DISCLAIMER: That’s not how cops and forensics experts do things in real life). You earn Stars by investigating crime scenes, which in turn are used as currency when it’s time to perform autopsies, analyze evidence, or question witnesses.
Criminal Case does offer a new trick or two, like puzzle-style hidden object scenes that must be unscrambled. There are also a few simple click-and-drag activities to break up your routine, like shuffling through suspects’ garbage or clothes.
But what really makes Criminal Case stand out are its blood-spattered crime scenes. You’ll see victims with cut throats, body parts decomposing in a backyard, and a naked man with a partially hacked-up body (not to mention the damning saw parked beside his corpse). Even the hidden object scenes are a little gruesome; you’ll probably double-take the first time you’re asked to locate a bottle of urine.
There are lots of crime HOGs of course, but few of them show anything beyond a timid blood stain or two. Criminal Case has solid potential as a HOG for older fans of the genre that want something beyond fantasy realms and haunted houses. Unfortunately, Criminal Case is slow going. You’re allotted a small amount of energy that doesn’t even receive a guaranteed fill-up when you advance in levels. Necessary autopsies and interrogations take hours, and/or require Stars to complete. To earn Stars, you need to play hidden object scenes over and over, with each “go” requiring 20 energy. Predictably, energy fills up slowly, and the game doesn’t start you off with a small stash of premium currency. You need to whip out your wallet from the get-go, or be prepared to wait for hours, perform a few tasks, then wait for more hours.
What’s also sad is that, despite its detailed crime scenes, the writing in Criminal Case is dull at best. You’re never really intrigued by your partners, your higher-ups, or the victims. Even the murderers are ciphers with weak motivations.
Criminal Case isn’t a HOG for kids—but given its insipid writing and dull plot, it’s not really for adults either. Leave it to decompose amongst the blood and the bodies.