Crime O’Clock is an investigation and hidden object game from Bad Seed and Just For Games. It’s like Hidden Folks, if there was an added narrative, and the ability to travel through time, changing the canvas as you go. In my Crime O’Clock review, I’ll see if this time-hopping adventure is worth pulling your magnifying glass out for.
Story and Setup
In Crime O’Clock, you’re a newly recruited Time Detective, and it’s your job to observe different ticks relevant to a crime in a timeline with the aid of an AI companion. Your job is to piece together information to prevent crimes before they happen. It’s a fun premise and adds a narrative layer to a genre that usually doesn’t have one.
This added story aspect contextualizes why you’re traveling through different ages, and why you’re interested in certain crimes. The story evolves into an engaging time-traveling mystery, but I did find the dialogue a bit excessive. I would’ve preferred if there was less of it, so I could focus on the gameplay a bit more.
Overall, the actual quality of the dialogue is decent and often funny. The story itself is engaging enough to keep you interested, and I enjoyed how it progressed.
This is a hidden object game, but the hook is that you can visit different ticks in a timeline. It’s a smart addition to the formula, and there’s a surprising amount of effort put into creating a fully realized level. Essentially, you’ll start with the victim itself, whether it’s a break-in, accident, or even murder. You follow them through their day by visiting different ticks and gathering clues as you travel through time.
It’s a fun spin on the genre and one that goes hand in hand with its narrative. Each time you make progress, the game will scribble notes on the level itself, which you can turn on and off. The readability aspect is well realized, and I didn’t have trouble finding characters, and observing their routines.
The only issue I had are the mini-games that frequently interrupt you. Every time your AI companion has to do some extra work, you’re taken to a Dues Ex style hacking interface. Here you play some bizarrely simple matching mini-games to analyze some clues. This disrupts the flow of the observation gameplay and never feels necessary.
After you have visited enough ticks in the timeline, and found the characters in enough spots to gather sufficient evidence, you can prevent the crime. This is usually done by reporting some other illegal activity that they take part in before committing the major crime itself.
This loop is quite rewarding, and apart from the mini-games, I think Crime O’Clock does a great job of standing out in the fairly played-out genre. I do recommend playing this in smaller sessions, and maybe a case at a time though as it can get a bit repetitive.
Arguably the strongest aspect of the game is the presentation itself. Each level is full of detail, and there are a ridiculous amount of characters. You can basically follow the routine of every character on-screen if you want to, and it’s a lot of fun seeing the hilarious encounters they have.
The anthropomorphic characters are well designed, and there are plenty of cameos you can find ranging from Rick and Morty, Aladdin and Jasmine, and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
What’s more impressive is how many “ages” it tackles, and you’ll see costumes, structures, and activities that would fit that age. It’s inviting, full of charm, and I’d like even more levels to explore in the form of an expansion or DLC.
Overall, I had a fun time with Crime O’Clock, and there’s a lot of content to enjoy here. The gameplay loop is exciting but is often interrupted by unnecessary mini-games that are almost insultingly simple. The story itself is engaging, but the excessive dialogue doesn’t suit this style of game. Crime O’Clock’s presentation is a highlight, and the amount of detail packed into each level is seriously impressive.
Crime O’Clock Review is now available on the Nintendo Switch and will be out on PC on 21st July 2023.
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This review is based on the PC version of Crime O’Clock. The key was provided by Just For Games.