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Crime O’Clock Demo Impressions for Steam

Crime O’Clock, by developer Bad Seed and publisher Just For Games, is predominantly a hidden object game laced through with mystery and murder. (Think Where’s Waldo but if Waldo were dead and you could travel through time.) With the help of an AI, you, a newly hired detective, are assigned the weighty task of protecting the “True Timeline”—something often tampered with by a variety of forces.

The AI detects anomalies and is alerted of Nexus Events through different eras that must be righted in order to maintain the True Timeline. These events range in severity, with everything from petty thefts to the murder of an important historical figure, but each has a critical effect on the right order of things. Possessing the ability to jump through time, the AI allows access to four different ages and “ticks” in order to correct the timeline.

By maneuvering through these ticks, each a moment in time that offers unfiltered insight into each step of a crime, players can prevent maldoings from ever happening. Rather than policing the timeline, you’re upholding the integrity of spacetime itself. (No pressure!)

Crime O'Clock Demo Impressions for Steam

Yet the AI’s tools are not limited to its time travel capabilities; the charming piece of technology offers hints, an echolocation-esque object detector, and even a way to get a glimpse through walls. Multiple programs installed in the AI fulfill other needs, providing the ability to verify identities and even check for poison. These subroutines, as they’re called, pull you out of the world and into the AI’s with a glitchy transition (one that admittedly scared me before I realized it was apart of the game), and is something that might take players by surprise. While it doesn’t feel entirely unnatural with the rest of the game, the difference in art and complexity is enough to threaten immersion.

Each case is unique and not too difficult to solve, taking around only ten to fifteen minutes to complete one. (While there is a sense of urgency in the AI’s language and implied from the severity of certain cases, there’s no time penalty or countdown involved.) The time frame for each case is great for short bursts of play, but a cyclical rotation of foes and the constant excitement of wrongdoing also allows for a more continuous experience.

Pacing was also a bit clunky aside from the aforementioned subroutines, as navigating through ticks was completely controlled by the AI. There were multiple instances where I felt I might’ve benefitted from being able to quickly switch between two ticks, and some where I would’ve liked to look around a previous tick longer.

More a mild annoyance than anything, the AI-controlled pacing isn’t a constant issue, and is easily redeemed by the fun and almost whimsical graphics. Reminiscent of cartoony coloring pages, the black-and-white maps are punctuated with color as detective’s notes are added throughout each case. Sticky notes and doodles are accompanied by fun sound effects, and the generally playful atmosphere is not an unwelcome distraction from the generally dire circumstances.

Overall, Crime O’Clock is an exciting and enticing game offering a creative spin on both mystery and hidden object games alike. I have no doubt that I’ll be revisiting this game to beat my times on cases and hopefully see any new stories and cases the game has to offer.

Crime O’Clock will release for PC via Steam on July 21, 2023. You can now download the Demo as well as wishlist the game.

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From playing games since I could get my hands on the controls to reading game-centered sci-fi, video games have been and always will be a huge part of my life. Currently pursuing a degree akin to game design, I'm nursing the goal of breaking into game development myself. (I'm also, admittedly, a sucker for any game with stellar aesthetics.)