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Criminal Case is a Flash-player Puzzle Game which was developed by Pretty Simple Games and released on November 17, 2012, designed in the mold of the CSI series, and available for play through Facebook. Specifically, it's a Hidden Object Game which hides all sorts of objects inside various crime scenes.
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The game is played by more than 10 million users through Facebook, and has gotten over 36 million "likes" on the same site. Additionally, as of December 2013, Criminal Case has been named the Facebook Game of the Year 2013. In July 2014, an iOS version was developed.

Not to be confused with Criminal Minds.

For those who are currently playing the game, SPOILERS ABOUND.

Seasons in the game


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Tropes about the series:

  • 100% Completion: Getting five-star mastery for a crime scene allows you to access that crime scene with five energy points (before then, each time you play a crime scene it costs 20 energy points). Getting five-star mastery for all crime scenes in a case gives you a gold medal (you get bronze for completing the case's main investigation, and silver for completing the side-quests).
  • Accidental Murder: Some of the cases turn out to have been caused by this.
  • Always Murder: While thefts, raids, kidnappings, illegal drug/animal trafficking, and other crimes are sometimes involved, the main meat of each chapter is always to solve a murder.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: You get some random items to dress up your character avatar as rewards for some of the side-quests you complete.
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  • And Your Reward Is Edible: Two inversions that benefit other players—each time you level up, you can share one orange juice (which restores 20 energy points) for other players to get, and each time you increase in rank (which happens every couple of level-ups), you can share a potato chip pack, which restores 50 points. Played straight for yourself by completing some of the side-quests; the reward in some of these cases is a burger, which restores your energy bar by 120 points. There's also rewards for "liking" it on Facebook and playing every day, which gives similarly edible rewards.
  • Arc Villain: Has its own page
  • The Artifact: All cases are about a murder. When you find clues in a crime scene, texts always turned illegible and objects are always broken in pieces. Initially, this framed the stories of each case in a specific pattern, but as plots became more complex some of those ocurrences turned out to be a bit forced.
  • Ax-Crazy: Quite a number of the killers in the game turn out to be this, though the especially monstrous of the bunch are better at hiding it than those who are on medication for actual mental problems.
  • Back for the Finale: In the finale of a district, your suspects will usually consist of people from previous cases.
  • Big Bad: Even with multiple criminals throughout the game, each season has someone responsible for the majority.
    • Grimsborough: Milton Grimmes, the leader of the Crimson Order—a notorious secret society that has been controlling Grimsborouogh for many centuries, and has murdered anyone who tries to uncover them.
    • Pacific Bay: Albert Tesla, the self-proclaimed "creator" of Pacific Bay who intends to destroy the city so that he can convince all the other citizens to upload their brains into the digital Utopia he's created so that he can reign supreme.
    • World Edition: Hector Montoya aka El Rey, the leader of SOMBRA, an international crime syndicate who intends to throw the world into chaos so that they can take over.
    • Mysteries of the Past: The Big Bad Shuffle between the Concordian Police Department, the Irish and Italian gangs, and the Rochester family, with each of them being the villains at some point in the season. Their actions lead Justin Lawson - the newly elected mayor of Concordia and ally of the Concordian Flying Squad - to set up a dictatorial regime in the city to end criminal activity.
    • The Conspiracy: Rozetta Pierre in an attempt to get approval from her mother and creator, Denise Daniels, the brains behind Rozetta's actions throughout the season. In the season finale Denise is murdered by Otto Kessel, another of her creations who rebels against her and takes control of Denise's plan.
    • Travel in Time: The saboteur of the time machine, who turns out to be Ammon Bast, who in turn is working alongside Nebet (who is actually a princess named Nefertiti) to alter history so that Ancient Egypt can become a global superpower.
    • Supernatural Investigations: The Demon Queen, who wants to destroy the world.
    • City of Romance: Antoine Macaron, the notorious leader of the Parisian mob, and Samy Malouf, the CEO of notorious dating app Luvver.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first five seasons end as such. The later three end on positive notes.
    • Grimsborough: After the Police Department celebrated the defeat of the Crimson Order, the Player Character leaves Grimsborough for a new position in the Pacific Bay Police Department.
    • Pacific Bay: Amy and the Player Character managed to save Pacific Bay from Albert Tesla, but at the cost of Frank Knight's life. Afterwards, the Bureau recruits the Player Character.
    • World Edition: The Bureau defeated SOMBRA for good, but not before Armand Dupont gave his life to protect the player and Jack. And since the Bureau was created for the sole purpose of taking down SOMBRA, their defeat means that the Bureau family has to part ways.
    • Mysteries of the Past: The Concordian Flying Squad put an end to Justin Lawson's tyranny, but lost Charles Dupont along the way.
    • The Conspiracy: With Ad Astra and Denise Daniels dead, and the latter's neohumans on the loose, Rita sacrifices herself by using a super-powered, but lethal, version of the Berzelium to defeat them. Six months later, Jones manages to recover from his near-death experience, Cathy is expecting her second child, and the team attend Amir and Jasper's wedding. At the end, Jack Archer from 2029 appears and sends the player character to the future to join the Temporal Crimes Division.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Facebook = FriendNet
    • Apple = iPear
    • iPhone/iPad = PearPhone/PearPad
    • Red Bull = Rocket Cow
    • Dairy Queen = King Dairy
    • YouTube = TrendVid
    • Tetris = Fletris/Shmetris
    • Fox News = Wolf News
    • Twitter = Buzzer
    • SnapChat = FilterPix
    • TikTok = QikQok
    • Happn = Luvver
  • Blatant Lies: When the case starts and you first approach the suspects, many of them will either praise the victim or claim that they did not know them (or knew them just in passing). As the case goes on, we usually find that they did know the victim and have some grudge against them. This can happen with both killers and innocent suspects.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: One of the reasons Criminal Case is so popular is because it averts Allegedly Free Game. That being said, you can use real-world money to purchase in-game energy restorers, instantly complete the lab analyses you'd otherwise have to wait hours for, and buy better police dogs.
  • Busman's Holiday: In at least a third, if not half, of the cases, the player stumbles upon a murder while not on duty. In Maple Heights, it happens in almost every case.
  • Canine Companion: You can raise a police dog from puppy-hood to full adulthood, and the dog itself serves to sniff out Lucky Cards, experience points, coins, and energy points, depending on the breed it is. Grace also has a dog named Newton, who you and Jones rescue from his abusive former owner in a side-quest. Jones himself ends up adopting a dog, Astrid.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: To the point of being a gameplay mechanic. Some minigame puzzles require you to identify a suspect by comparing features and overall facial shape to ones 'on file'.
  • Character Customization: You can change your player avatar's clothes, hair, facial expressions, and accessories (badges, glasses, etc.) at any point in the game, and you can buy new options for each of these at any time with in-game coins earned from game-play. You can also change your character's gender at any time, but you have to pay in-game money to do so each time.
  • Clueless Mystery: Downplayed in the tutorial cases. Obviously you find the physical evidence to arrest the killers, but the player is never told why the killers killed someone in the first place.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: Whenever the police team discover a conspiracy theory — be it the existence of the Crimson Order, the possibility that the hurricane that struck Jazz Town is man-made, the Utopians' brainwashing — would turn out to be true, no matter how unlikely and how adamantly your team mates might deny its possibility.
  • The Coroner: Each PD the Player works in has a Chief Medical Examiner whose role is to perform autopsies on the dead bodies. Grimsborough has Nathan Pandit, Pacific Bay has Roxie Sparks, World Edition has Angela Douglas (until her arrest and subsequent replacement by Grace Delaney), Mysteries of the Past has Richard Wells, The Conspiracy has Martine Meunier, Travel in Time has Janis Rivers, Supernatural Investigations has Ben Shepherd, and City of Romance has Nadia Ben Yamin.
  • Cosmetic Award: The trophies. You win them after performing specific feats in-game (such as consuming a certain number of orange juices, or using one of your boosters a certain number of times), but they don't affect your game-play in any way.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Many of the deaths you're called on to investigate fall under this. Just for a few examples, one victim was burned with cigarettes, then sliced open and hung up among pig carcasses in a butcher's store; another had his hand sawed off and bled to death in a bathtub; and a third was lashed on his back to the point of bleeding, and then crucified; and there was several cases of victims being eaten alive by a shark, a giant plant, and rats, and another being roasted alive and cannibalized.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The Facebook and iOS versions can be synchronized by connecting to the former. The trick is that scenes were rearranged for the latter. This can be rather disorienting during the Time Attack bonus games.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The persons whose problems are the focus of the side-quests consist of those suspects in the main cases who weren't guilty of the murders they were being investigated for.
    • Pacific Bay features a "character arc" for each of the team members in various districts. There is Inner City for Hannah, Jazz Town for Yann, White Peaks for Amy, Ivywood for Russell, Rhine Canyon for Andrea, and Frank straddles the two small districts of Innovation Valley and Paradise City.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: If a police station became a scene, then there's a good chance that one of selectable objects is a donut.
  • Eagle-Eye Detection: Possessed by your character in-story, and it's also a necessary tool for players to accurately find the hidden items in various scenes.
  • Eaten Alive: A couple of the murder victims died due to being fed to wildlife by their murderers.
    • Grimsborough: Aaliyah Banks Case 38 was half eaten by piranhas and Roland Vane in Case 50 was crushed to death then almost eaten by a giant boa.
    • Pacific Bay: Jimmy "Ice P" Lewis in Case 1 was fed to a shark, Nora Lewis in Case 8 died after being ingested by a giant man-eating plant, Scott Lee Allan in Case 22 was eaten by starved rats, and Bruce Green in Case 41 was partially eaten alive by vultures.
    • The Conspiracy: Martha Price in Case 30 is eaten by Demon Fish (although she actually died from their neurotoxin),
  • Economy Cast: Every sporting event featured in the game is MC-ed by the unnamed Announcer. Likewise, all TV news in World Edition are reported by Cooper Anderson.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect:
    • The murder investigation of Adam Bentley in Case 51 qualifies, as the case involved 8 suspects (instead of the usual 5). Also, none of the suspects is a new character. All of them are well-known from previous cases. This impressive lineup included Tony Marconi (convict), Alden Greene (former convict and corrupt businessman), Howard Johnson (Mayor of Grimsborough), Serena Johnson (Politician, Howard's mother), Martha Price (Politician, Howard's rival), Lola Vallez (celebrity), Zack Holden (CEO of Friendnet); and, later, even Chief King got mixed up in the whole affair.
    Chief King: ...I see. Well, Justice should apply to everyone. I am very impressed with your integrity, (player's rank and name).
    • The case with Chief King as a suspect shows that even members of the PD are not exempt from becoming suspects themselves. In fact, all members of the Pacific Bay PD except Amy have been flagged as suspects in at least one case by the end of Season 2. Case 56 of Pacific Bay illustrates this with 4 out of the 5 suspectsnote  being members of the police department. It's Frank.
    • Similar to the above example, all 5 suspects of Case 42 of World Edition are members of the Bureau.note  It's Angela.
  • Evil Is Petty: Several murderers have motives that are eye-rollingly petty, if not crazy or For the Evulz. Case in point, the murderer of Case 58 from Mysteries of the Past, who claims that it was unfair that her victim got a promotion in the telegraph office and had a rich husband while she had not despite supposedly being "better than her" and who turned to murder in order to "fix the personal injustice in her life".
  • Evil Matriarch: There are five so far.
    • Serena Johnson is a fairly straight example. Her son Howard is the mayor, and she pretty much controls what he does from the sidelines.
    • Barbara Pickley is more unusual. She's a man-hating feminist who had only one son, who she simultaneously loves but despises, letting him grow up to be a manchild (because she doesn't think men can be more than that), and lavishing all her attention on her daughter-in-law Susan. She introduces Susan to feminism, and murders her after she deviates from her narrow definition of it.
    • Marina Romanova's mother Natasha was hinted to be corrupt by her own daughter, who was nearly killed while uncovering a corruption scandal in the past. Marina's suspicions were confirmed when Natasha had Yelena Tereshkova kill Vitaly Borodin and launch a satellite that will disrupt the world's electronics infrastructure on behalf of SOMBRA because she wanted to control the Russian government.
    • Franca Capecchi, the wife of Italian mob boss Vittorio, stirred a feud between the Irish and Italian communities in Crimson Banks after her husband's murder at the hands of Seamus O'Neill.
    • Rozetta Pierre's mother, Denise Daniels, who turns out to have influenced her actions during The Conspiracy. Not only did she abandon Rozetta at the age of ten after declaring her a "failed experiment" in creating a new race of superhumans (and thereby leaving her lonely, prompting her to create Ad Astra to make friends and set off the titular Conspiracy to gain her mother's approval), but when she does succeed in creating her neohumans, she treats them like they're beneath her and one of them, Otto Kessel, was subject to physical, mental and even sexual abuse from her.
  • Experience Points: Gained through playing the different stages, completing forensic analyses, and doing mini-games in the form of restoring torn-up evidence or magnifying of clues for minute evidence traces.
  • A Fool for a Client: Most killers have no lawyers to speak on their behalf during their trials. The exceptions in this rule include the killers of Case 15 of Grimsborough and Case 9 of Pacific Bay.
  • Femme Fatale:
    • Samantha Warner, in Case 10. She's been having affairs with at least two different men (one of whom is that case's murder victim, for which Samantha is herself a suspect), and she flirts with Jones when interrogated.
    • Kerry Ann Buxton seemingly tries to become one, without success. A former glamour model who had fallen out of society's favour, she tries to regain her limelight by getting involved in many affairs — including one with the Mayor — and becomes delusional enough to believe that her charms were the reason behind Mayor Johnson's successful campaign. This eventually led to her death, as one of her lovers decided that she's gone too far in degrading herself to gain fame.
    • Velma Bannister of Ivywood Hills is a beautiful seductress who charms men into giving her what she wants. She once seduced Frank to get the police off her back when she was suspected for murder in Case 34 of Pacific Bay, uses her much-older-husband's wealth and influence to bail herself from arrest when she was convicted for dealing with stolen goods, and later seduces Trevor Neuman into giving her a modified version of the Utopians' brainwashing tape to brainwash the whole world into worshipping her beauty forever.
  • Freemium Timer:
    • Searching a crime scene costs 20 energy points out of a bar limit of 110. To restore energy, one can use food items (Orange Juice, Chips or Burgers), which costs real money to buy.
    • Autopsies of the victims' bodies and lab analysis of clues lasts for 3 to 12 hours, although the player can use Cash to speed up the process (1 Cash per 30 minutes of remaining time).
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The LEAs the player character works with every season usually have one tech expert for each. Grimsborough has Alex Turner, Pacific Bay has Hannah Choi, World Edition has Elliot Clayton, The Conspiracy has Cathy Turner, Travel in Time has Kai Malano, Supernatural Investigations has Hope Newman, and City of Romance has Émile Bardot. Mysteries of the Past doesn't have a tech expert, though Charles Dupont's role as an inventor means he qualifies for this trope.
  • A God Am I: Many Big Bads have a disturbing obsession with godhood, apparently.
    • Milton Grimmes, the leader of The Crimson Order, claims to be the god of Grimsborough. During his trial, he angrily declares that they should be worshipping him instead of locking him away.
    • Likewise, Albert Tesla insists that he was that he is the creator of Pacific Bay, as his scientific advances has allowed the city to transform from a barren wasteland into a paradise. His whole plan revolves around trying to raze the city back into ashes so that he can upload all the citizens' conciousness into a digital world where he reigns supreme.
    • There is a non-Big Bad example in World Edition. Ayush Patil believed that it was his calling to do something about the overpopulation of India, so he stole a deadly virus from a lab and unleashed it onto the public. When he's arrested, he smiles manically and continues to insist that a new era is born thanks to him.
    • The Conspiracy's Ad Astra believes themselves to be superior in every way to the rest of mankind and their Evil Plan is to manufacture a superhuman serum to help them take over. Unfortunately for them, they're manipulated by the true Big Bad who shares their delusion and seeks to take over the world with a new race of neohumans at her command.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • The screen turns black when Chief King shoots himself in Case 51, and scene pans to a shocked looking Jones afterwards.
    • Same thing happens in Case 86 (or Case 30 of Pacific Bay) in the video footage showing the Night Walker killing Roberto Vasquez.
  • Gotta Catch Them All!: There are 184 trophies you can attain by completing specific criteria within gameplay. You can also collect playing cards, or "Lucky Cards" (the aces, the 10s and the face-cards), and if you can get all the cards in any one of the four suits, you can trade that suit for coins (the club suit), experience points (the diamond suit), orange juices (the spade suit) or potato chips (the heart suit).
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The game contains some examples:
    • Solomon Grimmes in Grimsborough. The Crimson Order is currently led by his descendant, Milton Grimmes, but Solomon is responsible for its foundation.
    • SOMBRA is a global crime organization led by Hector Montoya also known as El Rey. However, Montoya is the current leader, chosen by the original El Rey ten years ago. The original leader is none other than Arsenio Castillo, responsible for founding SOMBRA as a philosophical club in Campanilla, Colombia decades ago.
    • Rozetta Pierre and her company DreamLife are the main antagonists for the first half of The Conspiracy. Then it turns out that Rozetta is the leader of Ad Astra, a group comprised of four recurring characters (Julia Brine, Christian Bateman, Joe Warren, and Louis Leroux). However, Rozetta is merely a Decoy Leader, with The Chessmaster of Ad Astra being her own mother, Denise Daniels.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You are asked to input your name the first time you start playing.
  • Heroic Mime: Everybody talks to the player character, addresses him/her by name, offers him/her gifts of food or clothing, gives orders to him/her, flirts with him/her, cusses him/her...and your character never says a word (that's shown on-screen, at least) in response, although character reactions show that the main character is intelligent and not above teasing.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Many of the game's hidden objects are put in scenes where you'd logically expect them to be found in such situations, such as a banner above the entrance to a building or a bit of graffiti on a wall in an alley. Other times, the hidden objects aren't the kind of things you'd expect to see at those scenes but are still in plain open sight anyway, such as a volcano in the background of an urban bridge scene, a Bedsheet Ghost in a casino, or The Grim Reaper in the middle of a prom ballroom.note 
  • Hidden Object Game: One of several game modes is searching through piles of rubbish, leaves and other detritus to find clues and pieces of evidence.
  • Hints Are for Losers: Each time you go to a crime scene, you can take a fellow player's avatar (or the hint partners of the season if all of the fellow player avatars are used up), and around their avatar icon is a bar with a maximum of five hints, to point out where the hidden items are in the scene if you get stuck. However, the more unused hints you have when you find all the items, the more points you receive at the end, meaning the inverse is true the more hints you use.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: You can carry around any number of orange juices, potato chips, hamburgers, and Lucky Cards you like.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Many murderers who commit accidental murders say something that boils down to this during their arrests. How sympathetic they are generally depends on the circumstances of the killing itself. One of the most notable cases is Case 18 of Grimsborough. Julian Ramis and his friend Freddy Stewart stole various items from Alden Greene, including a rusty crossbow that fired on its own when Julian was holding it, killing Freddy in the process.
  • Implausible Deniability: It's a longstanding tradition for the murderer to repeatedly deny any wrongdoing during their arrest, even as the player's partner for the case produces the various pieces of evidence linking them to their crime(s), before finally confessing when they realise the jig's up. Some notable exceptions end up becoming Exasperated Perps and Saying Too Much, but it's still ultimately this.
  • Interface Spoiler: For each season's requisite 'Traitor among us'/ 'Tonight, Someone Dies' episode, it's a safe bet that none of the characters that can be selected to investigate crime scenes with are going to be the traitor or the victim.note  The exceptions are those that provide only one hint bonus, such as Frank Knight and Michelle Zuria.
    • Averted with Charles Dupont, who is a 5-hint partner and becomes a murder victim, and Rita Estevez, who is a 4-hint partner and performs a Heroic Sacrifice in the Season 5 finale.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Due to the fact that the number of victims who aren't Asshole Victims could be counted on one hand, both this and its sister trope Pay Evil unto Evil are extremely common occurrences throughout the game. Murder is still almost always treated as a prison-worthy offence in-game, though.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: In a few cases throughout all seasons, someone who was convicted of a previous murder might be killed in a case the player is then working on.
  • Level Grinding: The more levels you get, the higher you can get promoted.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Your energy point bar gets refilled to the maximum with each level-up.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Aside from your player character, nobody seems to change their clothes at any time, unless it's plot-relevant or in rare moments when we get insight into their personalities. note 
  • Loading Screen: There's one for starting the game, which includes a picture of Jones and Grace drawn in very realistic style as opposed to the more cartoon-like artwork the characters are drawn in within the game itself. There's also a loading screen for the crime scenes, depicted as a police squad car driving along the road en route to the scene.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: To say that Criminal Case has a lot of chracters would be an understatement. With 7 seasons and over 300 cases, this has lead to a ton of suspects, victims, team members, and even minor characters. As an example to highlight this, the very first district of the game (Industrial Area) has 48 unique characters involving the suspects and victims. The total character count is very difficult to fully tally at this point.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Zigzagged. The player character investigates crime scenes, interviews witnesses and suspects, pieces evidence together, and collects fingerprints and DNA samples. However, deeper analysis of said evidence — fingerprints, chemical substances and DNA samples — is done by the coroner, forensics or tech experts of the PD, who are naturally more qualified to do that sort of thing, and they don't go around conducting interviews of witnesses or suspects the way most CSI-related series would do. However, there are also times where the player character is asked to "match" fingerprints and even biological molecules and chemical substance with the database because it would take the other team members (you know, the experts) "too long" to analyze.
  • Mini-Game:
    • The Bonus Scenes, incorporating one of three crime scenes associated with the case. The first to be unlocked (usually by earning up to 2 stars) is a tile-sliding jigsaw puzzle that increases the number of pieces the more stars on the scene, the second (unlocked usually with 7 stars) is a Time Trial where the player must collect as many clues under a time limit and the last (usually needed 16 stars) is a spot-the-differences game where two versions of a crime scene are shown and you are expected to find as many of the differences between the two versions as possible. The stars won from completing these mini-games can also be used to advance in the investigation of that case, though the games themselves have nothing to do with the case proper.
    • Clue examinations in the Forensic Kit are also minigames. Restore involves putting a broken clue together like a jigsaw puzzle; players Collect lab samples in a Minesweeper-like board; Decode has players trying to read scratched-off numbers, letters or words; Find a specific clue among a pile of rubbish items; the players must use a brush and powder to Reveal hidden articles (fingerprints, hidden messages, etc.) in a particular clue (first appearing in the Industrial Center); the players have to Find the Same, trying to picture an object or suspect among a few samples (also debuted in Industrial); Vacuum involves collecting particles in a clue (debuts in World Edition), with those particles being the clue itself or hiding a message underneath; Match the Molecules analyzes samples collected from Vacuum (although sometimes samples from other minigames are used instead); and Cryptex (starting from Mysteries of the Past) uses cipher combinations to decode locks.
  • Myth Arc: The game has eight seasons with an overarching story specific to each of them, with the districts having their story arcs linked to the season's Myth Arc.
    • Grimsborough:
    • Pacific Bay:
    • World Edition: The Bureau investigates various cases that is linked to the international terrorist organization called SOMBRA. In fact, it is revealed that The Bureau was specifically created to wipe out SOMBRA, as Chief Ripley was the one who helped create SOMBRA in the first place.
    • Mysteries of the Past: The Flying Squad work to dismantle police corruption in the Concordia PD, prevent (and then stop) a war between Irish and Italian gangs, and investigate the wealthy — but corrupt — Rochester family, with the help of a district attorney very willing to bring justice to the city.
    • The Conspiracy: The mystery of the meteorite crash that occurred a year before the season's events and the involvement of Dreamlife - an obscure technology company created after the crash - in all of this.
    • Travel in Time:
    • Supernatural Investigations:
    • City of Romance:
  • One of Our Own: Occasionally, a member of the Police Department you work at will become a suspect. Special mention goes to Case 56 of Pacific Bay, Case 42 of World Edition, and Case 60 of Mysteries of the Past. In these cases, all but one suspect, or even all the suspects, are members of the the season's respective PD.
  • Never Say "Die": While victims die all the time, there is no death penalty in the Criminal Case world (at least not in the present day). A few suspects are killed before they go to trial.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Zeus the pimp is clearly Snoop Dogg.
    • The Vipers' gang leader Salvador Cordero from Grimsborough's Industrial District resembles Danny Trejo.
    • Ivan Imlay, the gravedigger from "The Wollcraft's Creature" case in Grimsborough's Historical District, of Marty Feldman's Igor from Young Frankenstein.
    • Zack Holden, the owner of FriendNet, is an obvious parody of Mark Zuckerberg.
    • Professional golfer Tony Webb is based on Tiger Woods. They even share the same initials.
    • In case 44, the victim, Hank Buxton, has a resemblance to Donald Trump while his wife, Kerry Ann Buxton has too many similarities to Anna Nicole Smith for it to be coincidental.
    • Martha Price looks like Sarah Palin's face on Hillary Clinton's body.
    • Not as obvious as other examples, but Trevor Finn of Pacific Bay is apparently created as a tribute to the Criminal Case Lets Player, Pitchingace88.
    • Roberto Vasquez, a recurring character from the White Peaks arc, is modeled after Jorge Garcia.
    • Case 92 (or Case 36 Pacific Bay) introduces us to a composer named Hannah Simmer, whose name is an obvious Shout-Out to Hans Zimmer.
    • Holly Hopper, a recurring character in Ivywood Hills, looks very similar to Lady Gaga, right down to her outrageous hairstyle and outfits.
    • Greta Meduse in case 49 of Pacific Bay could pass for Joan Rivers.
    • Case 11 of World Edition has Vanna Alabama, a Miley Cyrus parody. She even quotes Cyrus's song "Wrecking Ball" in one of her lines.
    • SILVERee, the K-pop idol, is based on two from real-life: K-pop rapper T.O.P. (for his appearance) and South Korean boy band SHINee (for his stage name).
    • U.S. President James Hewett is definitely a parody of George W. Bush, even bearing his nickname "Dubya".
    • TV News reporter Cooper Anderson is based on real-life journalist, Anderson Cooper.
    • Robert Hicks, the leader of the USNay (a movement which calls for the isolation of America and the building of the wall in the Mexican border), is yet another Trump parody.
    • Stanley Spark looks like what you can get if a younger Stan Lee portrayed Tony Stark. He even invented a Powered Armor!
    • Milton Dobby is clearly Toby Jones, who voiced a house-elf named Dobby in Harry Potter films.
    • Savannah Blake, an actress who appears in Case 9 of The Conspiracy, is clearly based on Meghan Markle. She's also stated to be dating a royal.
    • Tamat Loren, a newscaster from Case 19 of Travel in Time, has her appearance and name based off Tomi Lahren.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Generally, any case's AI that stumbles upon a body dead way before the case's canon. Usually what's left of the long-dead body is a smashed skull or very little of the bones. However, there are a few cases in the game that play this straight in the present.
    • In Case 21 of Grimsborough, all that's left of Rachel Priest is her skinless, headless body and pieces of her skull broken by her killer. And you're told her bones tore her skin open as she died.
    • Case 48 of Pacific Bay is the most gruesome example. The victim was sawed up and her body was placed in three blenders. By the time you find her, only her head, an arm, and a foot are intact. The rest has essentially been turned into a smoothie.
    • Averted with Case 8 of The Conspiracy. The victim, despite being dead for four years, was mostly preserved because she was cemented into a wall.
  • No Warrant? No Problem!: There's enough warrantless searches to keep an entire Internal Affairs department busy. One of the more blatant examples is in Grimsborough Case 4 — a suspect refuses to let Jones and your PC search her apartment without a warrant. Jones tells her that demand is "cute", and you and Jones search the apartment anyway.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Due to the fact that the number of victims who aren't Asshole Victims could be counted on one hand, both this and its sister trope Kick the Son of a Bitch are extremely common occurrences throughout the game. Murder is still almost always treated as a prison-worthy offence in-game, though.
  • Pixel Hunt: Sometimes, the items you need to find in each scene are too well-hidden, resulting in you having to use one hint just to find the items in question. Just for one especially frustrating general example, good luck finding arrows that are painted white and are hidden among clouds in the sky.
  • Point-and-Click Map: You can go from one section of the city to another, choosing to leave one case to go to another.
  • Police Lineup: How the suspects in a given case are arrayed for you to point out the guilty party. Each suspect will have at least one or two of the guilty party's identifying marks or traits, but only the one who matches all the traits will be the killer.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The Airport batch of Police Pets. They take far, far longer for comparison  to raise than all other pets. And the Airport pets' drops are not that different from the Maple Heights pets (which only take barely half as long to raise, at 2870 points), with the difference being Airport Pets yield 200 XP instead of 10 Energy.
  • Precious Puppy: Finding one of these is the basis for one of Case 6's sub-quests; when the puppy's eventually found, Grace adopts him after learning that he ran away from his abusive owner, a dog-fighting promoter. More recently, too, a new option has been added to the game for your character to train a police dog, starting as a puppy, through regular feeding.
  • Premium Currency: The game offers bundles of Cash, which is purchased using real money, to speed up Analysis times.
  • Puzzle Game: What the game is, overall. Besides the Hidden Object Game aspect, there are also some mini-games that take the form of forensic analyses and reassembling of destroyed clues, which give you a greater energy payout the faster you can solve them.
  • Qurac: Sultanistan, an oil-rich desert kingdom that is obviously based on the Middle East. Case 49 deals with the royal family of Sultanistan visiting Grimsborough, and the eventual tragedy that follows; while a particularly nasty immigration officer introduced in the Inner City is revealed to have migrated from Sultanistan herself.
  • Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: The Player Character supposedly makes a lot of remarks and suggestion during the investigation progress, but as they have no dialogue, their partners would repeat it for us instead. Usually goes something like, "What? You want to do X?" or "Oh, you think X is an important clue?"
  • Serial Killer: A lot. The district killers in Pacific Bay tends to have committed multiple murders before the being arrested at the end of the arc.
    • Margaret Littlewood holds the distinction of being the first murderer who killed more than 1 victim in a single case. The first victims were Molly Robinson and her dog, then followed by the murder of James Savage's husky, Gertude Picadilly's pug, and the attempted murder of Jones.
    • The Rorschach Reaper, the Arc Villain of the University arc, uses hypnotism to convince three students to kill their relatives/friends.
    • Erikah Mabayo from Bayou Bleu has killed several prostitutes working under her.
    • The Puppeteer from Jazz Town targets the parents of 14-year-olds who don't get along with their parents.
    • Duncan Young killed several young women as the Night Walker, before murdering Roberto Vasquez for knowing too much.
    • Similar to Erikah Mabayo, the Scarlet Slayer preys on prostitutes in Sinner's End.
    • The Rocket Cow Killer from Fairview targets parents who have strained relationships with their children by giving them poisoned Rocket Cow to drink.
    • The Tarot Card killer in the Southwest, who possesses five people who work in the natural resources shelter and has them murder their relatives, leaving tarot cards on their corpses. The ghost turns out to be Abigail Riley, who had been sacrificed to a demon by the five magnates to gain wealth.
  • Scenery Porn: The various crime scenes are very expertly designed. Whether it's a car at the bottom of a river, or a spooky graveyard, or the balcony of a mansion, it's all well done.
  • Shout-Out: Oh, so very many, so much so that there's now a page for all of them.
  • Silent Snarker: The player character is a Heroic Mime, but judging how sometimes Jones (or Frank, in Pacific Bay), especially when he's annoyed or confused, said something like "Oh, I know that face, [player name]. Stop it.", it seems they are this as well.
  • Something We Forgot: Each mission has 3 main locations. Each location is used for 1) a general view, 2) a closer view, and 3) the general view used in a special way (which gives the total 9 scenarios). Type 2 scenarios are usually introduced when someone proposes to return to the crime scene and see if there are some further clues that were not noticed during the first check.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: In nearly every case, most of the suspects openly trash-talk the murder victims as if they never learned how to not speak ill of the dead.
  • Story Arc: The cities are divided into several districts, each of them focusing on different conflicts.
    • Grimsborough
      • An intense war for control of the Industrial Area is waged between the Vipers gang and the Skulls gang, while the mobster Tony Marconi takes part in the dispute.
      • Alden Greene is a business tycoon who owns several companies at the Financial Center, while reporter Rachel Priest searches for some news related to him.
      • The Dog Pageant contest is being organized in the Historic Center, where some crimes appear to have a supernatural origin.
      • The University organizes the prom ball every year, which this time is threatened by the Rorschach Reaper.
      • Howard Johnson and Martha Price are running for election in the Maple Heights neighborhood, a place where people like Adam Bentley go out of their way to earn or maintain their wealth.
      • At the Airport, the police find out about the imposed control and crimes committed by the Crimson Order across the city and set out to stop it.
    • Pacific Bay
      • Ocean Shore encompasses the first five cases of Pacific Bay, and has no centralized plot and mostly deals with an introduction to the new team members, and briefly establishes their personalities.
      • Bayou Blue, a swamp district which covers Cases 6 to 10, deals with a voodoo craze that turns out to be a ruse created by a Serial Killer to consolidate power over the citizens.
      • Inner City, the home town of tech expert Hannah Choi, covers Cases 11 to 17, and the story focuses on the conflict between the Russian and Chinese communities, with an anarchist group called the Inner Chaos seeking to add fuel to the flame.
      • Jazz Town covers Cases 18 to 24, and deals with two distinct plots — one involving a man-made hurricane which has destroyed a large portion of the district and threatens to strike a second time and completely annihilate the town, and another involving the renewed activities of a Serial Killer called the Puppeteer — who had, in the past, murdered Yann Touissant's parents.
      • White Peaks, which covers Cases 25 to 30, is the home town of Amy Young and focuses on her family, her past and her Character Development as she and the player character try to uncover the mysterious Urban Legend of the Night Walker.
      • Ivywood Hills covers Cases 31 to 38 and mainly focuses on a malevolent cult called The Utopians and their plans to control the district through brainwashing.
      • Rhine Canyon, covering Cases 39 through 45, focuses on a government plot and crazy alien landing conspiracies.
      • Innovation Valley, covering Cases 46 to 50, deals with human-like robots, their quest for rights, and the tension between them and humanity.
      • Paradise City, covering Cases 51 to 56, deals with a heist at the luxury Mennagio casino and the six heist members.
      • The Wastes, covering Cases 57 to 59, sees Amy and the player in pursuit of the fugitives from Paradise City, only to uncover a plot to destroy the whole of Pacific Bay.
    • World Edition
      • In Europe a hidden group called the Promethians strives to cause discontent and push for unification of the European states to seize power.
      • The Bureau navigates through the Sahara Region to hunt down an assassin known as "The Sword", who had murdered Chief Ripley.
      • SOMBRA has infiltrated COSMORUS with a spy who will steal the information needed to build a satellite that can plunge the world in darkness and launch it. The Bureau goes through Eurasia to stop this from happening.
      • In South Asia, an unethical pharmaceutical company owned by SOMBRA has been taking advantage of the recent natural disasters to consolidate their power, and a mysterious Guru seems to have some kind of connection to them.
      • Orphaned children have been missing from East Asia, likely kidnapped by SOMBRA and recruited as their soldiers. The player must put an end to this operation and rescue the children from SOMBRA's brainwashing.
      • The Bureau heads to Oceania to find out more about the Next Level program, in which the missing children from the previous storyline get conditioned physically and mentally into becoming SOMBRA agents.
      • In returning to Africa, the entire Bureau almost gets killed by an act of sabotage, and the culprit responsible is someone inside the Bureau.
      • South America sees the Bureau digging through history to learn more of SOMBRA's origins, and eventually find its leader, El Rey.
      • The Bureau finds themselves in the middle of an international struggle between North America (especially the US) and the rest of the world, and SOMBRA meddling from behind the scenes to start World War III.
    • Mysteries of the Past
      • The Player Character joins a wave of Irish immigrants in entering New Haven, in the City of Concordia. However, someone is planning to take advantage of these immigrants, and somehow a mysterious fire at the local police station seems connected to it...
      • The Flying Squad is looking into the identity of the enigmatic Mr. Alastor, whose numerous parties in and around Elysium Fields is always punctuated with murder.
      • The World Exhibition in Century Mile is being plagued by a saboteur tampering with various inventions.
      • A gang war is brewing between the Irish and Italians in the red light district known as Sinner's End, while a Serial Killer known as the "Scarlet Slayer" prowls the streets.
      • The Flying Squad try to take on the Italians who have basically conquered the entirety of Coyote Gorge.
      • Crimson Banks is home to Italians and Irish coexisting in peace, but the escalating gang war threatens that livelihood.
      • Several local businesses are ready to invest in a new company that promises to save Wolf Street from a financial crisis, but is there truth to the company itself?
      • In their pursuit of "The Devil", the Flying Squad try to make sense of the apparently supernatural happenings in Grim Chapel, while trying to discover the truth behind Gryphon Sanctuary.
      • The Rochesters are making their move to take over Concordia in Ivory Hill, the political center of the city.
      • At Capitol Peak, Concorida's newly inaugurated mayor plans to rid the city of all crime, with questionable methods.
    • The Conspiracy
      • Upon returning to Grimsborough, while the player reunites with friends and co-workers both old and new, he/she must also look into a stolen shipment of amlodipine that seems to be the Weapon of Choice of a Serial Killer in Fairview.
      • An earthquake has hit Grimsborough, having its epicenter in Money Mile, and the player must lend a hand in relief efforts while helping Jones in finding his girlfriend who’s gone missing during the disaster. Meanwhile, an artist is using the earthquake as the basis for her art.
      • As the player examines the circumstances of Zoe's disappearance and Marconi's related business in The Greens, DreamLife launches a new virtual reality program that people obsess over ...
      • The earthquake that damaged much of Money Mile has also unearthed the ruins of an ancient city called Xerda bellow the Old Town, and the PD must not only oversee its excavation, but also investigate a cult called The Higher Truth which claims to help people reach enlightenment while mainlining money to DreamLife.
      • A flood caused by the earthquakes in the previous districts has hit Maple Heights, bringing with it some deadly "Demon Fish" that someone released from Xerda when it was being excavated. Meanwhile, the team prepares to infiltrate the dome that DreamLife is using to protect the satellite that fell a year ago.
      • The Grimsborough PD investigates DreamLife's dome housing the satellite in Misty Grove, discovering that it's actually a meteorite and being used to synthesize an unknown drug.
      • After arresting the founder of DreamLife in the previous district, the team seeks to uncover her past and find out her motives for founding her company, starting at Grimsborough University where she graduated. The district focuses on uncovering the truth about Ad Astra, a study group that she founded during her time there.
      • The Grimsborough PD are seeking the identity of Fornax in Spring Fields, an Ad Astra member who is in on DreamLife's plans and may have received a shipment of the drugs they were synthesizing two districts prior.
      • The fight to bring down Ad Astra continues as the Grimsborough PD goes to the Airport to try to find out what's behind "Plan Supernova".
      • The police, in pursuit of Ad Astra, heads to Newmark and must also discover the identity of the "puppeteer" who's been pulling the strings on everyone in the season.
    • Travel in Time
      • T.I.M.E. must deal with history changing after a rogue time traveler disrupts things in Ancient Egypt, and prevent the Roman Empire's conquests during Ancient Times from sparking a massive war. Meanwhile, an Egyptian slave sneaks on board the time machine, leaving the team to decide what to do with her.
      • The team's time machine gets sabotaged, stranding them in the United States during the 1969, where they must find a way to travel back to their own time. Meanwhile, they also have to deal with tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union which arose because of the Cold War over The 1960s.
      • After finding pages missing from Leonardo Da Vinci's time travel manuscript, the team travels to the Renaissance to seek help from Da Vinci himself and fix the time machine, and is accompanied by him for most of the district.
      • The team travels back to New York City in 2029, only to realize that things are vastly different due to several alterations in the timeline, and are now in an Altered Present. The team aligns with the local resistance against the current regime to get their time machine back and set things right. Meanwhile, Orlando must deal with his emotions after finding his deceased husband alive and well in this timeline, but with no knowledge of who he is.
      • The main characters travel to the Age of Sail, which they had pinpointed as the start of Egypt's rise to power. They join forces with English Pirates to head to an auction and reclaim the trade routes while trying to stay off Ammon Bast's radar.
      • After losing the auction at Tortuga, Ammon Bast travels to Medieval Asia to manipulate both Mongol and Chinese empires into war and seize the outcome of this conflict to ascend the Ptolemy Dynasty to power. The team follows Ammon to prevent the success of his backup plan.
      • The team's misfortunes come to The End when they return to 47 BC to prevent sabotage of the time machine and to restore the original timeline.
    • Supernatural Investigations
      • The Supernatural Hunters cross the West in search of a vampire who seeks to create an invincible elixir.
      • For five years, a ghost has been possessing wealthy people to commit murder, while an evil force has been sucking the livestock's life force across the Southwest.
      • The team travels to The Rockies, where Priya joins a werewolf pack to investigate the alleged alliance between one of them and a demon.
      • Seeking to prevent the demons from reading their thoughts, the Hunters go to the Midwest to ask a clan of witches for a mind protection spell, while investigating the disappearance of children possibly abducted by the witches themselves.
      • After discovering the truth about the demon war, the team heads to the East to investigate the identity of a rebel demon - Arthur's ally who was killed by the demon queen's loyalists - and then retrieve the final key to the queen's cage before the her allies.
      • The demon queen's has been freed, and with the shocking reveal of her human face, the team must head down South to learn the circumstances of it and figure out her plans before it's too late for the world.
    • City of Romance
      • Fantasy, covering Cases 1 to 5, has Carrie and the player settle into their new jobs while looking for the former's long lost brother. Meanwhile, the famous fashion brand Chior is set to open their fashion house soon.
      • Attraction, covering Cases 6 to 10, follows the PPD after they received an anonymous tip about an animal smuggling ring is unfolding in Monmarte and their plans to stop it.
      • Obsession, covering Cases 11 to 13, sees the Luvver app holding a competition in celebration of their new app feature, with the users getting strangely obsessed with it...
      • Jealously, Separation, and Engagement all share the story arc covering Cases 14 to 17, where Antoine continues his plans despite being put behind bars, and a wedding is set to unfold...
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Some killers from all throughout the game have some rather sad reasons for committing their crimes. Such as Case 6's killer, an honest cop, who was forced to kill his corrupt partner in self-defense after failing to convince him to turn from his evil ways, and Case 28's killer, a bereaved mother who murdered her husband because his negligence had caused the death of their infant child and he'd tried to cover it up.
  • Timed Mission: Each level has a mini-game in which you have to find as many hidden objects as possible before the timer runs out. When the mini-game's level-stars for that level are maxed out at five, the amount of time you are given is maxed out at 80 seconds.
  • Take Your Time: More often than not, each Chapter (except Chapter 3) in some Cases would end with a cliff-hanger, but the player can spend as much time delaying the start of the next chapter (collecting stars, going back to a previous case, etc.). Within the chapters themselves, some situations are supposed to give you a sense of urgency (ex.: trying to find the killer in "Dog Eat Dog" while Jones' life is on the line); no matter how fast the player finds and fixes a clue, there are those analysis times right afterward...
  • The Unreveal: In some chapters, one of the suspects suddenly confesses their guilt or someone says that they have found the criminal. You need some stars to open the next part of the chapter, and then find out that the crime won't be solved that early (for example, if a member of the team announced that they know the identity of the criminal, it will be just an over-the-top way to announce another new clue).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: There are many objects that are quite out-of-place in certain scenes, yet they are unrelated with the case at all. Not even Jones or other characters will say anything about it. For example in the second crime scene of the first case, you can find a puma hanging out above a roof of a house.
  • Urban Legends:
    • Grimsborough has two.
      • In Case 25, there's the local story of the "Mad Pilgrim." According to the story, the eponymous character was a cruel man who lived during the 17th century and sent many people to the gallows for the smallest offenses; eventually the Pilgrim's maid poisoned his food and then let the residents in to chop his body to pieces and bury the parts in the four corners of town. Since then, says the legend, the Pilgrim's spirit has remained trapped and very angry on Earth, and anyone who's tried to paint his portrait since then is reported to have died in the attempt. The story comes up because the case's victim died while painting a picture of the Pilgrim, and the scene was set up to appear as though the Pilgrim's ghost came back for revenge.
      • In Case 27, there's the Creature of the Lake, whose mournful wail in the dead of night allegedly lures people to the lake to drown.
    • Pacific Bay has a couple as well.
      • The Night Walker, a Slenderman Shout-Out, is said to haunt the forest of White Peaks and causing a number of disappearances throughout the years.
  • Victim of the Week: The main recurring theme of this game. Each week a different person gets murdered and you have to find their killer.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: You can make your character avatar male or female, and adjust their hair, facial expression, and clothing as you see fit. Some hairstyles, facial expressions, and clothing accessories can be unlocked when you level up to a certain extent, some have to be purchased with in-game coins (which you earn from each crime scene you investigate), and others are gained as rewards for finishing the side-quests associated with each case.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Case 51. Chief King is revealed to be the case's killer, and kills himself after being found out. This permanently changes GPD's team configuration, and changes the usual case formula of having him introduce the chapter to the player.
    • Case 84 (or Case 28 of Pacific Bay). Bobby Prince is convicted as the killer, when almost everyone expects him to play a significant role in the district's final case.
    • Case 112 (Case 56 Pacific Bay) has half of your team members flagged as suspect, eventually culminating in Frank Knight, one of the player's partners, being convicted the district killer. During the trial -his ex-wife arrives and helped him escape arrest, perhaps marking the very first time in Criminal Case history where the killer remains a fugitive by the end of the episode.
    • Case 58 of Pacific Bay is full of this. Karen Knight is found murdered, and the killer is none other than Alden Greene, who escaped prison in Grimsborough and made it into Pacific Bay. Right before the player arrests Alden, Frank kills him and reveals the reason Karen wanted the plutonium in the first place. Right after that, Albert Tesla's interface is revealed to have created Pacific Bay as an experiment, and is perfectly willing to destroy it for the same reason.
    • Case 6 in World Edition. The player character had just successfully thwarted the Prometheans' plan to take over Europe and the team was celebrating their achievement. Suddenly, Chief Ripley was shot with a poisoned arrow and died.
    • Case 12 of World Edition, and how. After Ambassador's Stern's son is kidnapped, he is taken to war-torn Iraq where the player and Carmen find a nomadic tribe leader dead by The Sword's hands. After finding Andrew Stern, things start going downhill for the team; Jack is incapacitated by Asal Hawaa, Dupont is poisoned by The Sword, Benjamin Scott turns extremist briefly, and Marina is accidentally taken hostage by Jonah Karam. When the team finally find out who The Sword is, he tries to kill Carmen and the player too...until Jonah saves them by shooting him in the head. Jonah is awarded a place in the Bureau for his merits by none other than Chief Ripley, who faked her own death to manipulate SOMBRA. And it all ends with Marina's mother sending the team a secret video to come to Russia. The "Holy Shit!" Quotient in this episode is through the roof.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole?: Many of the murder victims were not well-liked by a number of the people they associated with because, quite simply, they were douches. For example, Case 7's victim was a crooked building contractor who tore down a church to erect a new building project on the land, an act that earned him a lot of anger from other people; while Case 29's victim was a perpetual drunk who stole money from the Scouts he led and also beat up his girlfriend. In particular, The Rorschach Reaper gets killed about twenty cases after being imprisoned; the judge says the individual, while a monster, still deserves justice for being killed. This does not abate even in Pacific Bay, particularly in Case 5, where the victim tormented a street performer and tried to get passers-by not to pay him, tried to ruin the social life of a lifeguard, and tormented a waitress until she cried. Her motive for all of these actions was pure spite. Ironically, none of them murdered her.
  • Your Size May Vary: It's not very obvious since none of the characters are ever shown in their full size, but the heights does seem inconsistent. For example, in dialogue scenes, everyone is drawn at the same level, but the police lineup clearly shows (most of) the suspects to stand at differing heights. Also, all mugshot images have the exact same background lines, which puts every single suspects at 6' tall, even though that is very obviously not the case.

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