Lots of observation, and some puzzle-solving activity.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that CRIMO Stories is a puzzle mystery game for iOS devices. The gameplay involves a murder -- detectives are trying to determine who killed a college student. While the deceased woman's body isn't shown up close, you can see she's floating face-down in the water. Forensic details are discussed, and some are a bit graphic, although medical terms are used. The story also touches on drugs and alcohol at times -- bottles of champagne are visible on a boat deck, for instance, and a witness offers marijuana, without directly calling it that, to the detectives. Kids will see ads, unless they pay $7.99 to remove them. Other in-app currency packages are sold, which may be needed to be able to unlock things like other storylines. It would take a fair amount of playing time to earn enough currency to fund some of those items. The game is easy to play -- kids get thorough instructions, plus prompts about what to do next at many points -- and some critical thinking elements are involved, including investigation and logic. The group of characters who are featured have Latino, Asian, and other backgrounds, and in addition to the victim, two are women who work in law enforcement and appear to be on equal footing with the male characters.
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What’s It About?
Kids scroll around scenes, clicking on magnifying glass icons to check out murder clues in CRIMO STORIES. To further the story, they'll read conversations between investigators and solve puzzles by checking off boxes on a grid, based on numbers that indicate how many each vertical and horizontal row should include. Box amounts greater than one are grouped together; some rows can contain two sets. A six-field row with 3 and 2 above it, for instance, would have three consecutive boxes, either at the top or bottom, a space, and then two more.
Is It Any Good?
Aside from solving numeric puzzles, kids take a generally passive role, watching characters discuss potential clues -- which might be as enticing as the puzzles if that aspect were more interactive. The puzzles in CRIMO Stories are solved somewhat like crosswords. Kids need to click on squares to make the amount of filled-in boxes in each row correspond with the number beside it, without exceeding the horizontal or vertical limit that's listed. They can start by filling in any rows that are given. Completed rows are greyed out, and the portions kids have already figured out can serve as a clue for the rest of the puzzle. Incorrect guesses will cost kids a life, represented by hearts at the top of the screen. The game will end if they run out, but the app seems to let players try to beat levels again indefinitely without any penalty, other than watching an ad. Kids can skip the storyline scenes, if desired, or click through them and read each comment. As a potential secondary benefit, the investigators mention a some scientific concepts as they find clues, and while they don't go into a terrific amount of detail about each one, the dialogue could introduce kids to some new terms and potentially inspire them to learn more about some of those principles.
Some situations could be iffy viewing for a younger audience, such as a conversation with the man who found the murder victim, who repeatedly talks about using marijuana. Beyond that, kids may feel like they're not as actively involved in the investigation as they could be, since they don't do much first-hand examining or analyzing, despite some levels bearing names like "Analyze Body." The numeric puzzles aren't visually compelling, but can still be fun to tackle, though, because they get increasingly more challenging as kids play. Even without many bells and whistles woven into the design, the escalating difficulty level could be enough to keep them interested in CRIMO Stories.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how clues are investigated in CRIMO Stories. How could kids potentially use any of those processes in real life?
How can observational skills and logic help you figure out the answer to something?
How can assigning individual responsibilities help a group of people achieve a task or goal?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: February 4, 2023
- Category: Puzzle Games
- Publisher: SMACH S.A.S.
- Version: 4.3.2
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 13.2 or later or macOS 12.0.0 or later and a Mac with an Apple M1 chip or later.
- Last updated: February 9, 2023
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