Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past

App review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past App Poster Image
Fun, mildly bloody mysteries slowed by frequent case limits.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Investigating, analyzing evidence, deduction, other critical thinking skills. Looking for clues while waiting for lab, other results can teach kids about time management, multitasking, paying attention to detail. Interrogations show kids how to ask questions to obtain specific information. Completing tasks to advance case provides experience working toward goals. Reviewing evidence illustrates part-whole relationships. Tracking points provides basic math experience. Educational elements involved aren't really outlined, emphasized, but kids can get logic skills practice by playing.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn, FAQ available to answer player questions.

 

Violence

Images are animated, but kids can see part of an autopsy briefly, murder victims, other graphic fare. Some blood, gore, but quickly shown.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Kids can pay to speed autopsies, lab analyses up, buy food that serves as an energy source, purchase coin packages. In-app purchases ranged from $0.99 to $19.99.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Crime scene items include a cigar, empty bottles, other substances, but substance use isn't stressed.
 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past is a hidden object mystery app. Crime scenes in the game sometimes show some blood and the aftermath of violence. The images aren't photographic reproductions, but kids may see dead bodies and other somewhat gruesome animated images. Characters -- mostly police officers -- do all the talking, though, so the language is generally clean, and kids won't come into contact with strangers. The game provides positive reinforcement for persevering and finishing a case; if kids get confused, they can ask for hints at various points, and a detailed list of instructions and game information is also available within the app. Players can also pay for accelerated progress in the game, with prices ranging from $0.99 to $19.99 for bonus items or options to bypass sections.

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What's it about?

CRIMINAL CASE: MYSTERIES OF THE PAST is part of a series of investigation games set in different locations. In this game, players solve murders in the 19th century by finding clues, questioning suspects, and analyzing evidence. Identifying crime scene objects earns kids coins, which they can use on avatar items, pets, and boosters to help get a high score and find objects faster. They also earn points for playing, which help them earn stars that are needed to advance the investigation. Extra points are awarded for finding items quickly without asking for hints.

Is it any good?

The mysteries that players solve in this game are fun -- for the most part, if you can get around the random limits placed on play. Cases in Mysteries of the Past progress quickly at first, and characters walk you through each step, which helps prevent confusion. The app includes a number of elements that should help keep players from getting lost: Crime scene objects wiggle to help you find them, and players can also ask for a hint. Clues, such as the killer being right-handed, pop up after they've been mentioned to drive the point home, and they're recorded on a tablet, which can help you keep track of major case developments.

You need stars, though, to conduct some parts of the investigation, which are earned by getting a certain number of points. Stars don't carry over from case to case and can require hundreds of thousands of points to earn -- it can take multiple rounds of finishing a puzzle or finding crime scene clues to get a single star -- so it isn't hard to run out of them. If that happens, players can find themselves in a waiting game, with nothing to do except re-examine the same crime scene for new clues to earn more points, which can get old. They can pay to speed up autopsies and crime scene object analysis, or buy coins, which, in theory, can be used on boosters that will help increase their point total so they can eventually obtain more stars, but parents may not be thrilled about the expense. Offering more ways to earn stars would let kids play continuously and make Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past a more enjoyable experience, but as it is, it's a fun mystery solving app that will keep you busy for hours. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mystery and investigation. How could the skills and investigation tactics learned while playing Criminal Case: Mysteries of the Past be used in real life?

  • Use the app as a chance to discuss consumerism and screen time. Kids may feel pressured to buy things to speed up the waiting process while playing, but could that be used as a way to limit the amount of time kids spend on the app? How much time is too much to play a game like this?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions, reading
    Math: addition, subtraction
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, collecting data, deduction, investigation, logic, making conclusions, part-whole relationships, solving puzzles, thinking critically
    Self-Direction: time management, work to achieve goals
    Communication: asking questions
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: April 6, 2018
  • Category: Adventure Games
  • Size: 132.20 MB
  • Publisher: Pretty Simple
  • Version: 1.21.4 iOS and 2.21.5 Android
  • Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 8.0 or later and Android 4.0.3 and up.

For kids who love mystery

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