Last week we looked at Enigmatis 2, a supernatural-themed hidden object puzzle adventure game from Artifex Mundi. If that game was too fanciful for you, perhaps CSI: Hidden Crimes will be more to your liking. It comes from Ubisoft’s Abu Dhabi studio.
CSI: Hidden Crimes allows players to hunt for objects and solve mysteries along with the characters from the hit CSI TV show. It also brings a unique free to play structure that you wouldn’t usually see in a hidden object game. Instead of unlocking the full game from within a free demo, the whole game is free – but with the energy system and social features common to free to play titles. Read on for more details!
Welcome to the team
In Hidden Crimes, players take on the role of a new crime scene investigator hired by D.B. Russell (Ted Danson). By casting gamers as a new character, the game provides both the opportunity for character customization as well as interaction with pretty much the entire cast of the show. In total, 11 of the series cast show up in finely illustrated form. There isn’t any voice acting unfortunately, but the game’s story comes from one of the show’s actual writers: Jack Gutowitz.
Seeing as how Hidden Crimes has some strong social integration through Facebook, the ability to customize your character feels like more than a throwaway feature. Players can select a gender, skin color, hair style, shirt, and facial jewelry such as glasses. You won’t have access to everything right off the bat; several customization options unlock over time. That said, more parts and color choices would have been appreciated.
Murder, he or she wrote
Each level of the game consists of one “episode” or crime for players to solve. The first one involves a woman who has been strangled. You’ll start out by arriving on the crime scene, which is expectedly littered with objects. Now the hidden object fun begins!
During each visit to a crime scene, players must locate six items. Finding objects in quick succession will activate a combo bonus and improve your score. Some item names appear in gold and are worth more points than others. If you don’t know what an object looks like, you can press and hold on its name to see a preview – a cool feature in this type of game!
Each visit to a crime scene earns you a certain number of stars, depending on your score. It takes one or more stars to examine evidence and proceed with the case, so you might need to visit crime scenes more than once. The hidden objects change with each visit, naturally. Players can also earn more rewards by inviting Facebook friends along on the investigation.
After you’ve searched the scene thoroughly enough to progress, it’s time to examine the evidence! Each piece of evidence has its own forensic minigame. These include dusting for fingerprints, going over objects with UV lights, and more.
Once all of the evidence has been examined, you can finally arrest a suspect based on the information collected during the episode. The whole process closely matches the format of the actual TV show, albeit without much of the interpersonal drama outside of the actual investigation.
Being a free to play game, Hidden Crimes is monetized by in-app purchases. Everything you do in the game consumes energy, which slowly refills over time. The in-app purchases consist of coins (soft currency) and cash (hard currency). If you can deal with those free to play trappings, the gameplay and elements from the show are quite enjoyable.
CSI: Hidden Crimes is a truly cross-platform game, provided you link your Facebook account. The Facebook connectivity provides cloud save support with the option to resume progress from any Android or iOS device. With that cross-platform support and the promise of new episodes in the future, Hidden Crimes might just find an audience as dedicated as the show's among mobile gamers.