Crime Stories is an appropriately generic title for a game as fundamentally uninteresting as the Adventure Company's latest crime solving adventure. Based within the universe of a popular Italian comic book called Martin MystÃ¨re, Crime Stories takes the titular comic book hero and thrusts him into a drab and uneventful murder mystery of snooze-worthy proportions. Its adherence to ancient adventure game mechanics doesn't help matters, but the fact that it can't even use these ancient mechanics well enough to qualify as a decent throwback to an olden genre is all the more damning. This game is a pixel hunt of the most redundant and boring kind, and nobody should waste their time with it.
Crime Stories' hero, Martin MystÃ¨re, is a professor of something. What, exactly, is never made entirely clear, but he's definitely of the scholarly ilk. MystÃ¨re lives with his wife in a New York City townhouse with a caveman butler (and that's not just a descriptor--he's literally a caveman) named Java. Various pieces of archeological and literary significance litter his house. As for the man himself, he evidently affords his life of luxury by solving mysteries. In Crime Stories, MystÃ¨re is called to the scene of a grisly murder at the home of a famous professor named Eulemberg. But before he can get there, he has to find the hidden key to his wardrobe, dig up the phone number for his auto mechanic, and find his cell phone. Yes, the entire first act of this game revolves around one of the great crime-solving minds of the world taking in upward of 45 minutes to get dressed, find a phone number, and dig up his cellular. Priceless.
All along the way, MystÃ¨re makes nonsensical quips as you click on every piece of clickable furniture in his house, forcing you to sit through endless strings of text about books, art pieces, and other meaningless bric-a-brac while you try to dig up the necessary items to head to the crime scene. To make matters worse, he does the exact same thing even once you've gotten into the actual crime itself. Upon arrival at Eulemberg's estate, MystÃ¨re begins quipping nonsense about every piece of everything he sees. The info is not even relevant most times. If you find a piece of evidence, he won't necessarily tell you why it's evidence or what the significance could be. He'll just talk, endlessly, about nothing. Suffice it to say, MystÃ¨re is not an enjoyable protagonist. He's just kind of a self-important windbag with a painfully bad sense of humor and no real personality to speak of. This isn't to say that any of the other characters you'll encounter throughout the adventure are much deeper, but you spend the entirety of the game with MystÃ¨re, and by the second or third act, you'll wish someone would just show up to kill him, already.
On top of MystÃ¨re's unlikable personality, the story has zero going for it. The first hour or so following the investigation of Eulemberg's body is a bit intriguing, but the evidence you find never seems to take you anywhere of consequence. Sure, there are some exotic locales and a few interesting twists and turns, but you spend entirely too much time putting together clues that aren't so much clues as they are extraneous ways to force you to backtrack over and over again. One sequence requires a ticket to get into a club to pick up an item so that you can get more info from someone you already talked to. To get the ticket, you have to go to a location to talk to a person, go through all the lines of dialogue, then go back to your house to find a book for them, bring it back, get the ticket, go to the club, find out the ticket doesn't work, go back to another location to use a device to make a forgery (that you'll only know exists if you're paying extra close attention), then go back to the club again to use the forged ticket, just to get this one item. And then the payoff for doing so isn't even satisfying or revelatory--you're just sent on even more annoying fetch quests.
It would be considered labyrinthine if the work itself weren't so by the numbers. Like any pixel hunting adventure game, Crime Stories has you eventually finding everything you're supposed to do by being thorough. If the mouse icon reveals a hot spot, click on it. Seventy-five percent of what you click on will be completely inconsequential, but you've got to do it, lest you miss that one obscure piece of evidence that gets you to the next chapter. That's nothing new for adventure games like this one, but none of the ancillary items you click on are interesting. There's no clever commentary about them, and they're not pleasant to look at. Everything's ugly and boring the whole way through.