Jack the Ripper was an actual murderer, you know? So it’s suitable for a minis title named Actual Crimes to be based on him, right? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that the actual identity of Jack was never found, and it’s up to you to find out who it is. If only they had a PSP back in the late 19th century, eh?
Actual Crimes is a hidden object game at heart, although you’ll need to complete a variety of other puzzles to find the murderer as you and your fellow detectives visit many murder scenes and suspects to find the perpetrator of the actual crimes. The story is involving enough for anyone with a soft spot for murder investigations, although the monotonous dialogue can be a pain at times.
The idea is that you’ve got to go to an area (look at a picture) and find one piece of evidence. One. That’s not hard, surely? Well, it wouldn’t be if you didn’t have to find other assorted items amongst the mess. Thankfully, you get a hint, that takes some time to reload, to help you find some of the harder items. The hidden items can range from normal sized bottles on a table, to gigantic cloves of garlic floating in the sky. Or human skulls, hidden against the pattern of a monument. I honestly don’t know why they bothered with Jack the Ripper when they had all this crazy stuff happening around them.
Sadly, the game’s downfall is that the difficulty is far too varied; as some puzzles are easily exploited, whereas others are extremely frustrating. Most of the ‘hidden’ objects can be found by simply dragging the cursor over the screen and repeatedly tapping X; this is extremely exploitable, with nothing to stop you, except from your guilty conscience. Thankfully, this is fixed in the ‘Detective Mode’, which adds a timer and a penalty for clicking fast more than three times in a row; although you should be stopped from clicking multiple times in both modes.
After you’ve been clicking away (and making sure no-one’s watching you cheat!), you’re often thrown into a different type of puzzle. These vary from a simple jigsaw to a difficult sliding picture puzzle, which is extremely frustrating to play on a PSP, and you’ll throw your PSP out the window if you don’t find that “Skip Puzzle” option (it’s in the pause menu).
Although these puzzles break up the gameplay from simply looking at a picture for hidden objects, it can still be quite repetitive. You’ll encounter a matching pairs game a fair few times, which is quite boring. The spot the difference puzzles are just as exploitable as the hidden object puzzles, and the jigsaw guides your piece into place if you get close. These are the simple puzzles, but within no-time you’ll be put up against a dreaded sliding picture puzzle.
This is all leading up to working out who the actual killer is, and you’re faced with a choice at the end, so you have to pay attention. Unless you fall asleep; some of the dialogue is really that boring. The clunky controls are the real murderer in this game, and coupled with the harder puzzles make this game a lot less fun than it could be. The graphics are fine, although it’s mostly just still pictures that you’ll be looking at. The sound isn’t anything special either, there’s some music and you can hear the chatter of people when you visit a pub, but there’s no actual voice acting (which is fine, as it’s a mini).
- Involving story if you enjoy the setting
- Easy enough for newcomers to pick up and play
- The dialogue is mostly boring
- Easily exploited
- Difficulty level is skewed
Actual Crimes: Jack the Ripper is a good buy for people who enjoy hidden object games or nineteenth century detective stories, but unfortunately, there’s some flaws, and the game isn’t the best example of the story of Jack the Ripper. The varied difficulty, annoying controls and the fact that many people will find it boring means that it’s just better than average overall. However, if you really enjoy this genre, it would be an actual crime to miss out on this one.