Criminal Case (video game)
|Platform(s)||Facebook (Adobe Flash), iOS, Android|
November 15, 2012
August 28, 2014
April 15, 2015
Criminal Case is a detective-themed hidden object game released on November 15, 2012 for Facebook. An iOS version was released worldwide on August 28, 2014, followed by an Android version on April 15, 2015. Developed and published by French indie studio Pretty Simple, Criminal Case has over ten million average monthly users. On December 9, 2013, Criminal Case was crowned the Facebook Game of the Year 2013.
The player acts as a detective to solve murders, locating relevant clues at the crime scenes by clicking items in the scene. Higher scores can be earned by finding items as fast as possible. The scores obtained will fill the bar on each scene. Filling the bar will award the player Stars, an in-game currency for cases that can later be used to perform tasks such as examining evidence and interrogating suspects. During this process, player will also have to come across necessary autopsies and analyses that may take a few real-time hours to complete. During the course of the case, player may find killer profiles, and critical hints that will be used to capture the suspect.
In the last stage of every case, the player must reason who the killer is from one of the suspects, using the killer profiles obtained during the course of the game. By successfully identifying the suspect, the player can eventually proceed to the additional stages. Successfully clearing the additional stages will let the player proceed to the next case.
There are also puzzle elements to the game. Several simple click-and-drag activities (dubbed "forensic mini-games") were given to add some more variety to the player's routine. Additional scenes in each case can be unlocked by obtaining several stars. These additional scenes are bonus rounds featuring several minigames, such as time attack, find the difference, etc.
There are currently more than 250 cases in the game, with 45 stars in each case (with the exception of the first case, which has 15 stars, and the second case, which has 30 stars). 3 medals and 3 rings can be earned in each case. Gold medals can be obtained in each case by gaining all available stars in each scene. These gold medals unlock various pet shops, which allow the players to buy police dogs that can aid them in each case by adding extra energy, experience points and lucky cards. Other than that, all remaining stars can be used for buying energy, coins and sticker packs.
Lucky cards can be obtained from friends, after which they can be traded for various items, including experience points and hints.
Various progression features are also integrated into the game, the most relevant being the energy meter; energy is necessary to investigate crime scenes. This energy meter can be filled by energy-filling items, such as orange juice, potato chips and burgers. The energy bar can exceed its normal limit, allowing the player to add many energy points to it without worrying about running out too soon.
Set in a contemporary fictionalized version of the United States, the game begins when the silent protagonist – an anonymous rookie cop whose name actually corresponds to the player's entered name – is shown pursuing a career with the Grimsborough Police Department, a law enforcement agency in the fictional city of Grimsborough (which seems to have been modeled after New York City). Partnered alongside Inspector David Jones – a senior but lazy and comical detective in the force – the protagonist soon proves an auspicious talent, defying obstacles like ruthless murderers, serial killers, and notorious organizations, even catching the mayor's attention in the process. The game's cases are divided into chapters and are presented in the style of a visual novel.
After solving a total of fifty-six cases across Grimsborough, the protagonist succeeds in bringing peace back to the city, thus earning a major promotion to the Pacific Bay Police Department; the primary law enforcement agency in Pacific Bay (a fictional city which is a composite of several cities, including Los Angeles and New Orleans). The protagonist then receives a farewell party from fellow Grimsborough PD officers before departing with memories and respect.
Leaving Grimsborough, the protagonist sets foot in the city of Pacific Bay. Now assigned with Officer Amy Young and Detective Frank Knight in the Pacific Bay PD.
After the fifty-nine cases around Pacific Bay, the protagonist brings peace to the area, and is promoted to the world's top agency The Bureau. The protagonist leaves after a funeral held for Detective Knight.
Leaving Pacific Bay, the player plays in the World Edition, which includes countries of the real world. The protagonist is assigned to work with Elite Force Agent Jack Archer and Elite Detective Carmen Martinez.
Finishing the World Edition, Agent Jack Archer reads a story of the city of Concordia to the protagonist and the latter imagines itself in the story, which allows the player to play in "Mysteries of the Past", which happens in the past, more specifically in the late 19th century. Assigned then with Detective Madeline O'Malley and Senior Investigator Isaac Bontemps of the Concordian Flying Squad agency, the protagonist must capture murderers and bring peace back to the city of Concordia.
Concluding the sixty cases in "Mysteries of the Past", and back in the present day following the events of World Edition, the player returns to Grimsborough to uncover troubling secrets in "The Conspiracy", which focus on "dark secrets and conspiracies" stemming from a mysterious object that fell from the sky into the Grimsborough forest a year prior to the events of the season. The Grimsborough Police Department also returns as the law enforcement agency that serves the city.
Pretty Simple was founded in 2010 by partners Bastien Cazenave and Corentin Raux and was backed by Idinvest Partners. Idenvest originally put up €300,000 in seed capital, which was followed by another €2.5 million after the game achieved a level of early modest success. The murder investigation theme was chosen first by the developers, who decided to make the game in the Hidden Object genre due to it making both business and personal sense. Just two months after the games launch, it had 1 million Daily Active Users. As of mid-2013, Criminal Case attracted more than ten million monthly average users and became highly competitive with Candy Crush Saga, the most popular game on Facebook with over 46 million average monthly users. The developers explained in late 2013: "To put out an investigation each week, there's almost 30 people working on it. We have writers and artists just really working hard to put out this content." On December 4, 2013, the game achieved over 100 million users. Five days later, Criminal Case won the Facebook Game of the Year 2013 award. By this time the episodes had been translated into nine languages, and they were making an 8-digit sum of revenue. The game has a 40-percent share of Facebook users. Some reasons cited for the game's success include its graphic crime scenes and meaningful narratives. 2017 research by United Worldwide found that 80% of the active players are women aged between 30 and 55. Two additional titles, Criminal Case: Pacific Bay and Criminal Case: Save the World!, launched in February and July 2017, respectively.
Australian Council on Children and the Media gave the game an amber rating (parental guidance required) due to containing gambling elements. Simiarly, SaferKid cautioned parents that the title included crude humor and profanity. Common Sense Media deemed it "polished" and "interesting". AdWeek praised the game's strong story and interesting gameplay. The Spectrum felt the game was "oddly gruesome" and "whimsical". Funky Games thought it was one of the five best hidden object games for Android or iOS platforms. Kotaku described the game as dark and gritty, though felt that the pay-to-play element of gameplay held them back from progressing.
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