Games: ClueSweeper

A lot of the computer games my son Al plays don’t interest me, and I don’t think he understands why I enjoy spending as much time as I do on the few games that I like. But yesterday when he told me he’d found a game he thought I’d enjoy, he was right!

ClueSweeper is sort of a cross between Minesweeper and Clue. You find clues by clicking on squares (well, squarish jigsaw-puzzle-shapes) on a grid, using the numbers on each piece that you’ve already clicked on to tell you how many “objects of interest” are adjacent to that piece. In that, it’s very much like Minesweeper. But unlike Minesweeper, where one wrong click ends the game, here an unlucky (or just careless) click might get you a “red herring” – a false clue that takes time off the clock.

The clues tell you characteristics of the suspects, characteristics of the Murderer – and what characteristics the Murderer does not have, to help in eliminating some of the suspects. The tough part is paying attention to the clues at the same time as deciding what space to click on next – do you work on getting as many clues as you can before time runs out, or solving the crime as fast a possible? Sometimes there are enough clues to solve it early – earning a bonus (all points are given in terms of cash earned). But if you pay attention to the clues as you get them, you can’t decide as quickly where to find more clues (and not red herrings!), and you run out of time.

Fortunately, you can still solve the crime after time runs out – you just have to do it with the clues already uncovered. Usually if I work fast at finding clues, I have enough to identify the Murderer with certainty once I have the time to read them. At the early levels, where time is much shorter, I have sometimes had to simply guess – sometimes right, sometimes wrong. If you’re wrong, you lose a chunk of cash. You can simply back out of a game and redo it (with all new clues), but then a day is added to your overall time to catch the Mastermind behind the crimes.

The nice thing about accumulating cash is that you can purchase items that make the game easier – more time to start with, less time lost for red herrings, extra cash when you solve crimes (to go buy more items), free tiles uncovered at the beginning. In some ways, that makes it easier at the higher levels, even though there are more suspects to deal with. It took me to the final level, the second time I played, to finally manage to uncover all the clues in one game.

If I have any complaint about the game, it’s that I got to the end of it so soon. Of course, I can play it again and again to try to get more cash, uncover more clues, and/or solve the crimes in less time. But as with Minesweeper, I’m sure I’ll reach a point where I’m just not going to beat my previous score except by a huge stroke of luck.

Of course, now that I’ve found one game on that I like, I’ll just have to check out more. I’m sure there are thousands of games there I won’t care for (currently they have over 34,000 free games). But there must be some more that I will like. And I don’t have to wait for Al to find them for me.


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