Trying to bring something new to the point-and-click adventure genre
Frustrating minigames and puzzles with inadequate directions/hint support
Sometimes a game that you expect to be horrible will surprise you by either taking a new approach to an old idea or by having a higher level of quality than expected. Unfortunately Crime Lab: Body of Evidence does neither of these and while it shines at moments, the full game ends up just being decent.
Crime Lab: Body of Evidence puts players in the roll of Nicole Bonnet, a headstrong FBI agent. She is assigned to a case that appears to be an accidental death which actually turns out to be part of a string of serial murders. Along for the ride is her new partner, Adam Porter, a surly loaner assigned to her after her former partner leaves the bureau. Slightly more agreeable is FBI Lab Worker Katrin Jones who assists Bonnet throughout the game. Really this is just the start of the list of hackneyed characters in the game that would feel at home in any crime novel. Also similar to many crime novels, the story is a relatively predictable, although some of the twists near the end are enjoyable. Unfortunately every time the story shows any signs of being engrossing, the gameplay brings it to a screeching halt.
The game is a classic point-and-click adventure, which means there are copious puzzles involving using items you come across to solve various puzzles. The game does do things a little differently by having an I Spy approach to finding the objects you need to complete puzzles. Upon entering an area a list of all the obtainable items appears, making it much easier to figure out what needs to be found before you’re able to complete an area. This is a much appreciated addition that streamlines the experience for the better. Unfortunately, finding all the items does not make solving the puzzles easier. Some of them just make no sense. There is a hint system implemented that will tell you what you need to do in a given situation, but near the end of the game it becomes relatively useless, giving advice that is actually contrary to what needs to be done. It’s frustrating to say the least.
Adding to the frustration are the minigames. While some are actually really fun, there are a few that drag down the entire experience. In particular, any game using the DSi camera ends up being too buggy to complete. The developers did implement the ability to skip a minigame by paying points, but this option only appears after failing the minigame multiple times. It would have been nice to have to option to skip at any point. The other problem with some of the minigames is that there is not adequate direction when starting a new minigame. Often, solving minigame is a matter of trial and error until you’ve figured out exactly what the game wants you to do.
If that makes the game sound highly unappealing, note that these are the entirety of the gripes that can be leveled against Crime Lab. The presentation of the game itself is solid. Any minigame that has been played in the main story mode of the game may be played outside of the story mode, and awards are unlocked as certain goals are achieved. The game also features “cut scenes,” which are a series of well-drawn images that exposit parts of the story. The music, while not amazing, definitely has a crime story vibe that will get you sleuthing to your fullest potential.
Unfortunately, good artistic design just can’t fully make up for a few glaring flaws. If you can see past those flaws, though, you’ll find an enjoyable game that will help you waste a few hours. If not, this might be one to leave off your Christmas list.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.