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Thanks in no small part to Bejeweled and Candy Crush, match-three puzzle games have made a curious resurgence in recent years, especially within the mobile market. We’ve seen match-threes dressed up as dungeon crawlers, medical simulations, pet shops, and even a shanty-laden pirate drama. Another Case Solved, the latest such app from Chillingo, tosses a few additional mini-games into the mix and goes the way of the 1940s-era private detective.
You begin the game as an amateur PI in a barebones office. This serves as your home base, and as you gain money by solving cases, you’ll gradually get to fill it with furnishings and professional equipment. This customization aspect is one of the game’s most enjoyable, and will likely act as your chief motivator for pressing onward. There are always appealing options just out of reach.
During your investigations, you’ll need to master detective tropes like discovering clues and interrogating suspects, but instead of sleuthing around on-foot, you’ll move through each case by playing a series of four mini-games. The first and primary task in each case is finding clues, which is done via an untimed session of tile matching. Connecting at least three tiles of the same type will remove them from the board, but for every five you connect, a more valuable clue will appear at the top. To make your job easier, a staggering number of tools and items are available to purchase for in-game cash. This portion of Another Case Solved is deeper than previous Chillingo match-three games like Puzzle Craft, but its complexity, especially in regards to purchasable tools, feels hastily thrown together.
Splitting attention with three other mini-games doesn't help, either. All of the lesser puzzle segments are fun the first few times around, but none of them offer much replay value. There’s a grid-based spatial puzzle, which lightly teases the brain, along with a simplistic breaking-and-entering sequence; and lastly, each case ends with a round of accusations that essentially amounts to a Guess Who-style game. Together they make for an interesting series of tasks for a short while, but they don’t replace a single, well-developed game mode.
Another Case Solved comes tantalizingly close to being a fantastic puzzle game. Its theme is on target, the item acquisition is addictive, and the freemium grinding isn’t horrible. But by juggling too many mini-games and an overwhelming amount of tools and items, it takes attention away from the core gameplay experience.
The bottom line. Another Case Solved is enjoyable enough to warrant the free download, but it lacks a strong enough hook to carry you through the eventual tedium and repetition.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Nice cartoonish ‘40s detective vibe. Tons of addictive customization options. High production values.
Repetitive by the end of chapter one. No sense of significant narrative development. Moderate amount of grinding.