As a kid I was a pretty big fan of the Where’s Waldo? and spinoff genre of books. The premise was basically that you had to find specific things in a crowded image. There have been a number of indie games that have tried to bring this mechanic into video games. When I saw Crime O’Clock I was intrigued as it looked like a combination of the “Where’s Waldo?” formula and a crime solving game. Crime O’Clock is a fun creative twist on your typical hidden object game that is better in shorter doses.
In Crime O’Clock you play as a recently hired time detective. Your task is to protect the timeline at all costs. Things quickly go haywire as a group of nefarious entities seem intent on drastically changing the timeline. You must work with your AI partner, EVE, to detect changes to the timeline and reverse them before they cause irreparable damage.
The majority of Crime O’Clock’s gameplay is built around finding hidden objects in a much larger world. Each case takes you to one of five different ages. EVE detects a disturbance to the timeline and gives you a brief explanation of what crime occurred. You will then start your investigation. This usually starts with you finding the scene of the crime. You will zoom into the larger image and scan the area until you find the right area. To solve the case and reverse its effects you then need to solve who committed the crime, the motive, and a way to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Most of this is done by finding objects hidden in the image. For each era there are ten different snapshots in time. These are basically a series of images taken over a period of time. As you proceed in the case you will move forward and backwards in time through these snapshots. This allows you to follow the movements of the citizens and the events that lead up to the crime and its aftermath. In most cases you need to follow the victim and/or the perpetrator through several of these snapshots. This helps you piece together what lead up to the crime.
To break up just searching for hidden objects, the game has a number of different mini games/puzzles. You will solve these in order to acquire more information about the case. Some of these are timing puzzles while others require memory, figuring out patterns, or other small little puzzles. Once you solve the puzzle you acquire a new piece of information that you will use in your investigation.
You need to put all of this together to piece together what happened. Then you need to find a solution to stop the crime from happening in the first place. There is no time limit to solving the case so you can take your time. The game tells you how long it took to solve the case, but it seems to have no impact on the outcome. After you solve a case you can move onto the next case.
Eventually you will also unlock what I would call free-play mode. This allows you to go to each era and explore it. In each era there are a number of characters of note. The game allows you to follow them through the ten snapshots to see what they did that day. These characters are pretty much all pop culture/Easter Egg references. This mode doesn’t change the gameplay in any noticeable way. It is kind of fun following these Easter Egg characters around though.
For the most part Crime O’Clock is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. It shares a lot in common with your typical hidden object game. You will spend much of your time searching large images in order to find characters hidden amongst a bunch of other objects. The game has some unique twists on the genre, but at its core it is very similar to your typical game from the genre.
Because of this you should have a good idea of whether you will enjoy the game. If you have never really cared for hidden object games, the twists on the formula aren’t going to be enough to change your mind. The game is still built mostly on searching for characters/objects hidden in plain sight. If you are a fan of this genre or the Where’s Waldo? style of books, I think the game has a lot to offer you.
The core gameplay of Crime O’Clock is really straightforward. You just search a large image trying to find something hidden in it. When you find it you will click on it which will move the case forward. I think this illustrates one of the game’s greatest strengths. You can pick up the game almost immediately, and it is the type of game that you can just sit back and enjoy. There are no time limits and no rush to solve the crimes. You can take as much time as you want. This creates a really relaxing/casual atmosphere. I see Crime O’Clock being a good game to just play and relax with.
The gameplay might not be the most original, but it is quite satisfying. It obviously is not going to be for everyone as hidden object games don’t appeal to everyone. For fans of the genre though, I think you can have a lot of fun with Crime O’Clock. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but it is oddly satisfying finding objects/characters hidden in plain sight. I wouldn’t consider the game to be particularly difficult, but it is still satisfying to find something that you had a hard time finding.
This is all combined with the detective atmosphere of the game. While it doesn’t drastically change the gameplay, it creates a good framework that the game builds around. A lot of the gameplay is built around finding the same characters in a series of pictures passing through time. In a way you are retracing the steps of the characters to figure out what happened. In most cases this means that you have a general idea of where to find a character in neighboring snapshots. Basically you should start in the surrounding area and then branch out from there if you can’t find the person. You end up building a case and finding a solution to it. The game doesn’t work quite like your typical detective game, but it is a fun little twist on your typical hidden object game.
Lets move onto Crime O’Clock’s story and atmosphere. For the most part I thought the game’s story was pretty good. Each case has its own little story, but there is also an overarching story. Some of the cases are more interesting than others, but I thought they were pretty well written for the most part. I would say the story is kind of predictable, but enjoyable enough. As for the game’s visuals and atmosphere, I think it does a good job. The art style in particular is quite good. The art style is reminiscent of Where’s Waldo? and other books/games that have you find hidden objects. The art style is kind of cartoony, but it really works for the game.
I enjoyed playing Crime O’Clock. Its biggest issue is the fact that it is the type of game that is better in shorter doses. While each case has its own quirks and they are fun to solve, the gameplay never drastically changes outside of some new mini games/puzzles being added in every so often. Therefore the gameplay loop for each case basically plays the same. After a while this can become a little repetitive.
The best solution to this is to play the game over an extended period of time. While I could see some people binging the game, I wouldn’t recommend it. I personally think it would get boring after a while. I personally would recommend playing the game at a slower pace. Most of the cases take around 10-30 minutes to solve. Therefore I would recommend playing 2-4 cases at a time. Then coming back to the game at a later time. This will keep the game fresher and will lead to a more enjoyable game in my opinion.
Other than the game being better in shorter doses, its other biggest fault is the fact that the controls could be better. Controllers work fine, but they occasionally have some issues. The biggest problem is that it is kind of hard using the analog stick to precisely select characters in the picture. There will be times where you have to regularly adjust your magnifying glass just to get it over the character you want to select. There were a number of times I ended up selecting areas that I didn’t want just because I couldn’t get the magnifying glass over the area I wanted. Thankfully there is no punishment for wrong selections. It can become a little frustrating at times though.
As for the length of Crime O’Clock, it kind of depends. If you can find the objects really quickly it will obviously take less time. You likely will get quite a bit of time out of the game though. Most cases will take around 10-30 minutes to finish. There is around 40 cases in the game to solve. If you enjoy these type of hidden object games, I see no reason why you wouldn’t get your money’s worth out of the game.
For the most part Crime O’Clock ended up being what I expected it to be. In many ways it is similar to your typical hidden object game. It is fun trying to find characters/objects hidden in plain sight in large images. The game does a good job creating a relaxing atmosphere where you can just sit back and enjoy what you are doing instead of feeling pressured to solve the cases quickly. This is combined with an interesting twist where you are finding the characters/objects in order to solve crimes and prevent them from happening in the first place. Add in a great art style, solid story, and a good amount of gameplay; and fans of the hidden object genre should really enjoy Crime O’Clock.
The game probably won’t be for everyone though. While it has some unique elements to it, it is still very similar to your typical hidden object game. If you don’t like this genre of games, I see no reason why Crime O’Clock would change your mind. My biggest issue with the game is probably the fact that it is better in shorter doses. I enjoyed playing the game, but I don’t see it being the type of game that would be enjoyable for hours at a time. I think you will enjoy the game considerably more if you played a couple of cases and then came back to the game another day. Finally the controls are a little finnicky at times where it can be hard to get the magnifying glass over the area you want to select.
My recommendation for Crime O’Clock is pretty straightforward. If you don’t generally like hidden object games or aren’t intrigued by the premise, I don’t see Crime O’Clock being for you. If you generally like the hidden object genre and find the premise intriguing though, I would highly recommend the game as I think you will really enjoy it.
Release Date: Nintendo Switch – June 30th, 2023, PC – July 21st, 2023 | Systems: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Bad Seed | Publisher: Just For Games | ESRB Rating: E10+ for Mild Violence
Genres: Casual, Hidden Object, Indie,
Official Website: https://www.justforgames.com/crime-o-clock/
- A fun relaxing game that you can take your time with and enjoy.
- The crime solving mechanics add an interesting twist to your typical hidden object game.
- Is better in shorter doses as the gameplay doesn’t significantly change between cases.
- The controls can be a little finicky at times.
Recommendation: For fans of hidden object games that find the crime solving premise intriguing.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Bad Seed and Just For Games for the review copy of Crime O’Clock used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.