Forensic Detective is crime scene investigation simulator game. you play as a detective who is responsible for solving a murder crime scene. The game is based on the TV Show series that cover real-world crimes and launched by Oxygen TV Network.
The game tells a story of a victim named Trent Park, a professional musician, whose body was found lying in his Nashville apartment. The police have arrived at the scene after receiving a complaint about the argument followed by gunshots.
When you start the game, you get to see the screen with your own eyes in AR. All you are told is that the time of death was estimated to be around 11:50 and 11:45 in that same evening. From that point on you have to investigate the scene and find the cause of death.
You have only 7 minutes to try to solve the crime with the clock start ticking the moment you press the ready button.
The game was designed from the ground up for augmented reality. The gameplay kind of reminds me of the crime scene analysis interaction in the game Detroit: Become Human. The game plays in the first-person perspective. You move through the environment by just physically moving inside it.
To obtain clues, you have to get close to highlighted areas and use the clues you obtain from those crosslink against a list of suspects. You can also hear a recorded session of the interrogation of each of the suspects.
This is a “room-scale” AR game, so everything is in its life-size representation, which includes the body, the wall and other virtual objects placed in the scene. I recommend playing the game in a medium-size room, but you can essentially play it even in a small space as well.
After analyzing the evidence, you need to accuse one of the suspects.
Things I didn’t like
The game is very short, and once you analyze a view evidence and got the “Accuse” option enabled, you can just make wrong guesses until you get it right and the game doesn’t punish you for that. Furthermore, there is one evidence that can easily point out to the suspect, which made me succeeding in detecting the murderer after just one try.
The game doesn’t employ realistic visuals, but digitized, semi-transparent computer-generated visuals. Although I would have liked to get the feeling of a real scene, the age rating might be rated higher than it is now, and limiting its reach. That being said, there is something interesting in seeing the scene in its digitalized form. It even make me think about that in the future, we might have a technology that can scan the entire crime scene, and allow investigators visiting it in a later date, rather than relying on photos or plain data. This can even be used when educating new investigators.
I was disappointed that there is only one case to solve. I can continue playing like 20 more chapters like this without getting tired. However, the analysis seems too simplistic with not so much interactivity. You just get close to the highlighted area, tap on a button, and the matched data automatically assigned to the suspects. I would prefer something that requires more manual work with more brain-teasing interactions. Maybe having the ability to rotate the body and inspect it from different sides, moving objects around to reveal clues, use different tools to inspect the scene, etc.
Forensic Detective: Inside the Crime Scene is definitely a unique AR experience. I did have experience with a similar app called Silent Streets: Mockingbird, but that app was part regular mobile game and part AR.
You can clearly see that Forensic Detective was designed first and foremost for augmented reality.
This short AR experience is a good as a promotion app but very much lacking if you are searching for a fully pledged AR game. That being said, this definitely wasn’t the goal here, to deliver a full gameplay experience.
NBCUniversal Media, its developer, can add more chapters in future updates, but I haven’t seen anything in the description or the official website that suggests that.
Experiencing this type of gameplay in AR was entertaining to an extent. I enjoyed having the need to physically getting closer to object to inspect them and I like how the suspect list was hanging on the wall (not actually my wall, but the invisible wall of the AR scene). I could easily inspect the scene and stand up and look at the wall to cross-link my findings with the suspect’s data.
On the explanatory level, I did find Forensic Detective to be exciting but one that is quite far from fully being able to deliver a fully immersive AR experience. I can easily see the potential in AR for enhancing these type of gameplay experience, and that by itself got me excited about what we are going to see in future AR games.
I think that Forensic Detective: Inside the Crime Scene is definitely worth a visit. Just don’t come with very high expectations, especially if you are in a search for a great detective mobile game, you just won’t find it here.
Having said that, I do think that it’s definitely a great promotional app for Oxygen TV Network who sees itself as a leader in the crime genre for multiplatform storytelling and I will in some degree judge it as such.
Whether we are going to see more chapters, I have no idea. The app was released in early May 2018, and we haven’t seen any new level for the game.
As I said, I do recommend checking this app out, even if you are a developer and searching for some inspiration for new games.
You can download the app for iOS here.