Wonder why it isn't called Art of Murder anymore?
With so many different puzzle games available on the Nintendo DS, each one trying to target a particular sector and carve out their own niche and achieve great success, how should a developer best go about penetrating the potentially over-saturated market? With Crime Lab: Body of Evidence (a game some may remember under its previous name, Art of Murder: FBI Case Files), Polish outfit City Interactive has drawn together some of the key elements from other successful releases and expertly crafted them together to give any puzzle fan an absolute treat.
Hidden Object puzzles, cryptic clues, point-and-click adventure mechanics, item manipulation, logic conundrums - Crime Lab: Body of Evidence has them all, as well as some instances where the microphone can be utilised, or even the camera on the DSi (XL) can be used to physically wind cranks up, wipe areas clean, or pretend to read your eye print for opening doors! City Interactive has already impressed with its Match 3 effort, Jewels of the Lost Tropical Island on DS, but has definitely upped the ante for Crime Lab, giving fans of the genre a piece of puzzling heaven. There are more than 300 puzzles and riddles included, plus even a hefty supply of mini-games to unlock during this intriguing crime thriller. Just as the Professor Layton games mix a good mystery story betwixt its brain-teasing collection, Crime Lab: Body of Evidence comes complete with a tale of its own.
Taking on the role of a young FBI agent by the name of Nicole Bonnet, players control her as she receives an unusual package in which a complicated mechanism has been included, along with a message from a serial killer, who continues to leave playing cards at the scenes of each crime he commits, thus leading Bonnet on a merry dance, with her only hope being to try to get inside the mind of the psychopathic murderer in order to outwit him and put a stop to the heinous happenings.
As you progress through the story, piecing together various bits of evidence, using numerous items to open up new avenues in the investigation, and interrogating those potentially involved in the dastardly deeds, certain puzzles may impede your progression simply by being a little too clever or tricky for their own good. In Professor Layton’s outings there is the chance to collect hidden hint coins along the way, whilst in Hidden Object titles like Tropical Lost Island the hint option can be used repeatedly, albeit at specified time intervals. In Crime Lab: Body of Evidence, there is no out-and-out choice of skipping a puzzle or gaining clues, yet if the game sees the player fail repeatedly, it offers to bail them out by charging a set number of points (accrued by collecting items and solving parts of the case) in order to bypass the source of the brain ache.
Each section of the main investigation is broken into chapter segments, with a set time limit put in place to add an extra slice of challenge and encourage players to keep making through roads at a decent enough pace. With an hour being given to crack each part, it is generally enough time to reach the conclusion of a chapter, although there may well be the odd moment where purists will repeatedly tackle a tough puzzle instead of skipping it, thus taking longer than expected. Running out of time does not result in a Game Over, however, and simply means that any remaining time on the clock that would otherwise have been translated into bonus points is instead lost.
There is smart use of the touch-screen throughout, be it using the in-game navigation function to move from place-to-place, tapping different areas of a new location to check out further details related to specific objects, interacting with particular site paraphernalia, scrolling along the item list to find something best-suited to the situation at hand, uncovering any items Nicole must acquire, or merely going hands-on with one of the numerous brain-teasing puzzles included. Not only that, though, but City Interactive has seen fit to make use of the dual-screen layout to make navigation and item manipulation as clear as possible, as well as letting players blow into the microphone at times, or, as touched upon earlier, if you own a DSi or DSi XL, use the internal camera functionality.
With ten long chapters to work through, each with a wealth of puzzles and conundrums to tackle, as well as an end-of-chapter ‘Question and Answer’ recap session, little handy reminder messages when finishing a play session then coming back to turn on your DS a few days later (thus refreshing your memory as to where in the investigation you previously were), and a wealth of extras to unlock (including a large batch of Hidden Object maps), Crime Lab: Body of Evidence is not only a fantastic prospect for puzzle fans in general, but is bursting at the seams with content that puts many of its genre stable-mates to shame.
A stunning example of how to make a DS game, making fantastic use of the dual- and touch-screen nature of the hardware for the general flow of the adventure, as well as the numerous puzzles, plus the inclusion of smart brain-teasers that even use the microphone and the camera functionality when the game is slotted into a DSi or DSi XL!
Perfectly clear visuals that show exactly how puzzle adventure games should look on the humble DS, allowing for all pertinent information and key objects to be seen without causing constant squinting!
Pleasing background tunes that prove to be extremely inoffensive, yet not particularly memorable. Some voice acting in places would have helped with the overall atmosphere as well.
With ten chapters, each with a guideline of one hour per section, plus a large batch of Hidden Object maps to unlock, and the option to play through any of the puzzles already completed in the main adventure, check on details of characters in the story and go over key events again at leisure, Crime Lab is fantastic value for money.
Anyone hankering for something to test their wits after solving both the sublime Professor Layton and the Lost Future and the exemplary Last Window: The Secret of Cape West, can would definitely be wise to check out this recent Nintendo DS release. Crime Lab: Body of Evidence mixes together a wealth of different gameplay and brain-teasing elements into one absolutely stunning package that will keep players glued to their Nintendo DS systems right to the very end. An essential purchase for all puzzle fans!
Wonder why it isn't called Art of Murder anymore?
This sounds great! I get bored with simple hidden object games, so having extra puzzles included sounds really fun. Might have to check this out
Looks interesting. Don't City Interactive mainly do PC stuff?
@ Jane R: It is called Art of Murder in some countries (like Germany), but in US & UK it's Crime Lab. Even more - UK & US versions have completely different covers
Thanks for the answer, cube. I wonder why Art of Murder was chosen for certain territories, but not the US and UK...'Art of Murder' sounds like a better name, to be honest.
Anyway, loved this game - and it's probably the first I've finished completely since Professor Layton and the Lost Future!
Not seen this anywhere, but sounds perfect fory tastes from what you've written. May check Amazon or eBay. Thanks!
Crime Lab is, well... more casual. Personally, I also like Art of Murder title, but it is important to understand this is not a port of PC game.
Yeah, this is definitely made for the DS. It really uses the various functions of the system very well, and also the DSi camera!
I've never tried the PC game(s?). You say they're more hardcore than this DS version? In what way? Is the story more in-depth or are the puzzles tougher? I like the little crime profile documents that can be collected during the main game!
PC version is a classic point n click game with 2.5D graphics and 3D character. While story is in some points similar, gameplay is completely different.
Wow, sounds great. I love 'point and click' games and definitely think I would probably enjoy the PC version. Hopefully I'll have the chance to try it at some point.
Sounds like it would work really well on Wii as well. Maybe broken into episodes for WiiWare?
Is this coming to Wii or 3DS?
I believe there was a plan to do a Wii version at one point, but for now it's stalled. As for the 3DS, perhaps the answer could well be 'yes' or maybe 'no'
We shall see!
hi there can you help me stuck on one game in the bar with dutchman have got watch back but cannot get out on bar thanks sue
does anyone know how many puzzles this game has?
Cleffa I have this game and it says in the review and in the back of the box that it has over 300 puzzles. However, I don't understand how because I alreadey played trouh both the story mode and the new puzzles and I'm sure I didin't played more than 150. Strange.