Crime o'Clock characters looking distressed

Crime O’Clock review – just in time for sleuthing

Fighting crime is not about being right or being smart, it is all about arriving just in the right nick of time. But, sometimes, criminals are just out to try and mess about with the flow of time. How can we stop them? Take up your magnifying glass and come with us, we’ll find out in our Crime O’Clock review.

We’re all familiar with Waldo, right? That stripes-wearing jerk was constantly hidden among the crowd in a classic series of books. Well, Crime O’Clock definitely acts on the same wavelength: we’ll have to find characters or items in a picture. But it is not a simple hidden objects game, as we’ll have to use our brain to understand what we’ll be looking for, based on clues and general locations.

But, alas, things are not as simple as that. In each location, we move between different times and track the suspects’ movements or objects’ locations between them. The locations are all drawn in black and white, which definitely helps visibility and the differences between each time segment are highlighted. But still, knowing where one character might have ended up between different time segments is easier said than done.

Still, tracking down characters and objects is not all that we’ll be doing. Several times we’ll be called to a different screen, by our nice little AI companion, to solve puzzles. These are mostly of the classic variety, from “rotate the symbols to match the required image” to “almost-QTE gameplay sessions”. These are often a much-needed break from the hidden objects gameplay, but they don’t really add a lot, as they all definitely feel like you’ve already played them somewhere before.

The real charm of Crime O’Clock is, instead, in the graphical style and the little stories that we will discover while playing. The style is definitely similar to that of modern comic books for kids, such as the standard for Disney comics. While the images don’t move, they all feel part of a sort of weird parallel Disney universe where every real-life character can be turned into a comic book villain or victim.

The stories are also quite unique, as along with tracking criminals, we’ll be on the trace of demons that move in time and other strange entities. The overall narrative soon turns strange and otherworldly, while also keeping us on our toes as the criminals always seem to be one step ahead of us. But through the use of our nice little AI, we should be well on our way to being able to go against them.

Along with the main gameplay, so all about finding criminals and finding out what’s going on, there is a sort of alternative mode. Called “archive”, in this mode we’ll still be tracking down characters but discovering other stories which have nothing to do with the main narrative. The developers went all in on this one, with references to both Italian and general pop culture (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rick & Morty, etc). It is a nifty little addition that adds several hours of gameplay, while still taxing our brains.

Still, despite its nice style and quirky stories, Crime O’Clock might definitely not satisfy the audience who doesn’t like “hidden objects” titles. The main gameplay is still very much about finding characters and objects. Despite short breaks with different puzzles, the loop is as strong as ever. Therefore, if you are not crazy about browsing around images, Crime O’Clock is best enjoyed in short bursts, otherwise fatigue might set in rapidly.

Still, if you are hunting for one solid hidden objects game with a fantastic art style and a unique sense of humour, Crime O’Clock will more than satisfy you. With an array of weird stories, terrific pop culture references (which are not in the main narrative, so they are not in the way) and wonderful hand-drawn graphics, this one will stay with you for a long time – as long as you can still find it when you get back.

Our Crime O’Clock review was made possible with a key provided by the developers. Crime O’Clock is available on Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Crime O'Clock: A unique and funny hand drawn hidden objects game which is all about finding criminals and victims, following them through time. Crime O'Clock is one to keep an eye on. Damiano Gerli

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Damiano Gerli

Damiano Gerli was born with a faithful Commodore 64 by his side. It taught him how to program basic adventure games and introduced him to new genres. Then, he fell in love with Sega -- while the Master System wasn't as powerful as the Genesis, it was where he played Sonic and Outrun. Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple. Damiano is a gaming industry professional and historian, loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs. Basically, Damiano is been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on X at @damgentemp.