Criminal Case, a new police procedural from Pretty Simple, threatens to be one of the most engrossing hidden object games on Facebook. Now if only I could play for more than five minutes at a time.

Criminal Case places the player in the shoes of a police detective tasked with solving a series of crimes utilizing the time-tested investigative technique of clicking on random items scattered about the crime scene. They'll deliver evidence to the lab for analysis, have corpses autopsied, interrogate suspects—it's a rather meaty example of the genre. Sometimes it's human meat.

This is a game I want to spend hours playing. The unfortunate energy system won't let me.

At the moment my max energy is 110. Investigating a crime scene costs 20, and normally takes less than 30 seconds. The points I earn investigating are used to fill each locales five stars. Stars are the currency used to do just about everything else in the game. Question a suspect? That costs a star. Search a victim's clothing? That's another star.

I'm at the end of my second investigation. I am out of stars, and I don't have enough energy to play the core hidden object portion of the game. There is nothing I can do except pay for energy or wait for it to slowly refill. Once I reach a point in a game where there is absolutely nothing I can accomplish, it makes me want to move on to something more productive.


Maybe I just need more friends. I only have two on my team so far, so the free energy gifts aren't exactly flowing freely. Perhaps that's the key.

One thing is clear: between this game and the addictive Magical Ride, Pretty Simple is proving itself to be a social game developer worth watching. I suppose that's something I can do while I wait for my energy to refill.

Criminal Case [Facebook]