Back in January, my role here at Gamezebo afforded me an interesting opportunity: I was to participate in a “Press Pitch” in London as part of the Next Level Indie Forum, and act as one of its four judges.

Over the span of two days, we were shown all kinds of games – but in the end our task was to pick just one winner. And it was easy. Our decision was unanimous. Criminel was far and away the coolest game at the show.

In the spirit of disclosure, I should tell you up front that the winner was promised an article in Gamezebo as their prize. Having said that, this is a game we would have written about regardless. And if you need further proof, just look at the coverage from one of the other judges who had zero obligation.

FACT: Criminel is a game that’s worth talking about.

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Set in Paris at the dawn of photography, players in Criminel fill the shoes of the world’s first forensic photographer. You’ll photograph clues at a crime scene, and then combine these clues with witness testimony and other information to try and identify the perpetrator.

In between cases, you’ll sometimes visit a nighmarish dreamscape featuring a horned man, all of which ties in with your character’s real world experiences to form a larger, stranger story than you might have first imagined.

Think of it as L.A. Noire by way of David Lynch.

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In speaking with developer Bojan Brbora, it seems as though Criminal is thinking outside the box with more than just it’s core idea and story. Little touches, like movement inspired by Google Maps’ street view, or scanning in the faces of the development team for characters (Bojan is the chief inspector pictured at the top of this article) reveal the game to be a truly unique labor of love.

In a stroke of serendipitous luck, Bojan learned that the Wellcome Trust, a charitable oraganziation in Britain, were organizing an exhibit on forensics. As they have in the past, Wellcome was looking for an interactive experience that could complement their efforts. The led to an infusion of funding to help Criminel’s first episode come to completion.

Like Wellcome’s exhibit Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime, the first episode of Criminel will become available to the public beginning next Thursday, February 26th, initially as an iPad-exclusive.

If you’re a fan of mysteries and love original gameplay, Criminel should be high on your radar. Keep your eyes peeled for it’s launch next week.