Reading crime books is what we’re passionate about here at Crime Fiction Lover. But if, like us, you enjoy your crime on an iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet, or even on a Kindle Fire, you may well be tempted to use your device to play some crime-related games as well. There are so many to choose from that it can be hard to find something that suits your taste. Many apps that come up when you search for mysteries turn out to have a supernatural angle to them. To save you some effort, we sought out five of the best that have a crime and/or mystery basis to them, without ghosts, zombies or strange curses…
Special Enquiry Detail: The Hand That Feeds
Lamonte and Turino are investigating the murder of Carmody Phelps – the mystery unfolds as you find hidden objects in each scene, with some help from forensics man Will Sheng. It’s a little bit odd that you’re required to find the tools you need at the crime scene itself – like tweezers with which to pull a bullet out of the wall. Even more odd is the task of locating a pineapple in the victim’s father’s study before carrying on with solving the crime. But then SED is more of a hidden objects game than a whodunnit. The story is interesting enough and the graphics – from the illustrated characters to the settings you have to investigate – are attractive too. Plus, there’s a free version to get you started for iPad, iPhone, Kindle (US) and Android.
The objective here isn’t to catch the criminal or solve the crime. Instead, you are the criminal and your task is to build up your own hood Sim City style, while visiting other gang-run hoods to beat up, rob and extort the residents. The multiplayer element means you can form a syndicate and invite other players to join, or become a member of somebody else’s crime network. Of course, you can also randomly attack other players online and steal their cash. The game is based around gold bars, which you can spend on weapons and vehicles. To speed up your progress you can buy 50 gold bars for £2.99. You might feel a bit stupid hitting a laundromat with a stick or mugging the same person over and over and over again to build up your cash, but it is one of the more visual multiplayer crime game apps out there and can be played for free. It’s available on Android, Blackberry and for iOS devices.
In princple, this game is very similar to Crime City, but it’s a lot less visual. You can’t see the streets you and your crew are terrorising, rather you control your mafia man via a series of complex interface screens. As the ambitious young criminal, you press little buttons to do jobs such as hitting up a convenience store or extorting money. Soon, the boss might ask you to show his daughter around town, provided you can find a red katana and an XR-9 motorbike first. Again, you can attack unsuspecting fellow players through the multiplayer facility, or join an online crime family. It’s been hugely popular – 10 million players – but it does feel a bit like a lot of button pushing as you try and boost your respect rating. iMobsters is a very similar choice. Crime Inc is free for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Kindle Fire.
Like Special Enquiry Detail, Unlikely Suspects is driven by scenes full of hidden objects. Find two beetles, a pitchfork and a maple leaf, and you’re then allowed to look for a teapot in the victim’s sitting room. However, it also works on a similar model to the game Cluedo (or Clue, in North America) in that there are 16 characters in the game and when you start a game one is chosen at random to be the victim, while the other 15 line up as suspects. As you solve the visual puzzles, you find clues such as airline tickets, information about possible murder weapons, and witness statements. There are over 4000 possible outcomes so it should have some longevity though not quite the narrative of SED. If the comparison to Cluedo caught your imagination, this game also has a quirky 70s feel to it. It’s available free for iOS.
Game apps are generally considered to be ‘casual’ entertainment and as such, where crime-related play is concerned, there’s a pulpy or even tongue-in-cheek feel to many of them. If you’re looking for the kind of atmosphere you’ll find in a really good mystery novel though, your £1.49 will be well spent on The Room, which even won a BAFTA award. This superb puzzle game has a dark and creepy pall to it that’s aided by some chilling background music. Your objective is to unlock various boxes by finding keys and mechanical pieces, opening drawers, unlocking safes and sometimes decoding pictographic messages. It might remind you of those old CD-ROM games Myst or The 7th Guest because, silent though it is, there’s a mystery in there to unravel. The creator of the puzzles, who has left you notes, diagrams and various artefacts, was studying something referred to as the ‘null element’. There’s a free version for iPhone, but it’s best played on an iPad.
If you’ve discovered an app you think other crime fiction lovers would appreciate, do tell us about it below.