Did you love the original Criminal Case game? I did. Sure, it was a fairly simple hidden object adventure game that was riddled with timers and freemium bits and pieces, but it was perfect for a quick fix of finding a few objects. It hooked me for a long time thanks to working so well both on Facebook and on my iPhone. And now, comes Criminal Case: Pacific Bay — a game with pretty much identical mechanics to its predecessor. That means you’ll probably still be lured in, but don’t be surprised if the appeal fades faster than it did before.
Set in a sunnier, much nicer looking location than the first game, Criminal Case: Pacific Bay immediately invokes thoughts of Dexter or CSI. With a backdrop of beautiful and hot looking places amongst all those horrific murders, it’s hard not to think of such shows. Indeed, Criminal Case: Pacific Bay isn’t really that gritty. It’s more about piecing things together and moving onto the next case.
Each case is divided up into a series of different challenges. A lot of the time, you’re seeking out objects on a cluttered screen full of things. Relating to the murder at first, you might be looking for a bloody knife or the victim’s body. Eventually though, you’re just as likely to be seeking out a random watermelon or a pair of shorts. Speed and accuracy is key here as you’re awarded a score based on how well you do. That score is tallied up and goes towards you earning a star. Such currency is then used to either talk to suspects, examine evidence, or accuse someone of the murder.
It’s a well designed system meaning there’s always something new to do. Examining items tends to invoke a simple mini-game such as a jigsaw puzzle or clearing a pile of trash on top of the key item. Talking to a suspect is automatic but you’ll learn important things through doing so. Then, you piece together matching clues to work out who must be guilty. It’s all very simple, but it’s pretty satisfying.
It’s simple enough that if it wasn’t for the freemium system implemented here, you’d probably complete the game rather quickly. Instead, you’re limited through a series of timers and energy meters. Content is trickle fed meaning you won’t be flying through this game.
Items that require analysis take a number of hours, while searching a Hidden Object scene uses up 20 energy. That’s quite a lot in a game where you start out with only 100 meaning this is a slow burner of a game. You earn free energy through a few different methods but most of the time, you’re going to be stuck waiting for it to naturally regenerate. Like its predecessor, it’s occasionally frustrating to see. You’ll want to progress faster than you can.
In this way, Criminal Case: Pacific Bay is the perfect game for those short on time but still wanting a quick gaming fix. I found it ideal for dipping into throughout my day but it didn’t stand a chance when I had an extended period of time to dive into a game. It’s essentially everything that works so well for free-to-play casual gaming, as well as everything people hate about the concept. If you’re someone short on time but in love with hidden object gaming, it’s perfect. Just don’t be surprised if your interest wanes before the content runs out.