Game: Unsolved Crimes
Set in the 1970’s, Unsolved Crimes takes most of its cues from pulp cop television shows, and introduces you to a world of crime scenes, evidence and case notes.
Cast as a rookie detective, you are faced with a series of investigations with your glamorous partner Marcy Blake, all at the whim of tough talking detective and boss Captain Abbot. Most of the game is spent visiting crime scenes and going over them with a fine-toothed comb, analysing objects, considering factors such as way items are scattered around a room, and piecing together what happened.
As well as physically hunting for clues, you have plenty of evidence on file to examine, as well as a wealth of case notes, suspect statements, profiles and other details, all of which are vital in indentifying each criminal and making sure justice is served.
As the game evolves, your partner’s sister becomes a kidnapping victim, bringing the plot home and adding to the urgency as you tackle increasingly more complex cases. The end result is a title that is part puzzle game, part lateral thinking challenge, and part gritty ode to the middle of the day detective drama.
In fact, Unsolved Crimes comes from a rather old-fashioned school of games design, once called the point-‘n’-click when using a mouse was key to this kind of product. In recent years there have been occasional releases, such as Phoenix Wright, Hotel Dusk and Zack & Wiki that hark back to the days of classics of the genre like the famous Monkey Island series.
Still, for fans of the genre and newcomers alike, Unsolved Crimes is certainly a rare treat, and while it is rather lacking in the graphics and scripting department, the puzzles and mysteries included are exceedingly hard to put down and very well conceived.
From having to cross check alibis to exploring every nook and cranny of crime scenes, the controls are always simple and instinctive, and Unsolved Crimes makes very good use of the DS’s stylus input. The way each case is designed so that it unfolds from what first appears to be a simple set-up into something quite elaborate is superb, and each is carefully constructed so that you are rarely left at a loss with regard to what to do next, which is often a failing in the genre.
It’s a slight shame that the developers weren’t bold enough to play with the clichés of the era a little more, as a witty pastiche of the 70s cop show would have been great, but that comes as a minor niggle in a title that has far more good points than bad.
If Diagnosis Murder or Miss Marple is one of your guilty pleasures, or if you remember the golden days of the classic point-‘n’-click adventure, and you can bare some particularly tired looking visuals, then Unsolved Crimes is well worth picking up. It may not be one of the most talked about releases of the year, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great little game, and far too few people will discover the charm it calls its own.
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