CAMEO: CCTV Detective
Developer: Wreck Tangle Games
Publisher: Wreck Tangle Games
Genre: Puzzler, Walking Simulator
Platform: PC / Steam
Audience: Not defined (contains mild references to violence/murder)
Release Date: 29/05/2020
The prospect of sifting through clues, examining crime scenes and piecing together CCTV footage is often an appealing one, certainly where entertainment is concerned. Granted, an actual Detective job isn’t likely to be quite as exciting but imagine, if you will, a game that manages to capture the essence of neither. Get off the edge of your seat. It wasn’t made for this.
CCTV Yourself Out
Plonked directly into the scene of a recent robbery, expert sleuth F. Lopez (Flo for kicks, because lord knows, we’re going to need some) knows his craft. This detective won’t even think about leaving until the masterful villain behind this complicated scheme of… let me check my notes… theft of an unattended jewellery shop, is brought to justice.
Flo, with his keen eye for detail and critical thinking first notes the location of every CCTV camera in the vicinity. ‘Looks like there’s one directly pointing at the store, that should save me some time’, he might have thought. I don’t know, he doesn’t say much. With an ice-cold serving of logic, he quickly determines that the thief must have taken the goods and fled the scene. Crack one open Flo, you’re truly the one-stop crime busting hotshot we’ve all been cheering for.
As Flo surveys his surroundings it might surprise players that fictional city ChurchView is home to the type of intricate detail found only in games thirty years its senior. When finding door No. 19 next to door No. 19, Flo might consider the possibility of a copy and paste oversight, then again, maybe there’s a dimensional rift, created by the maniacal Dr O. Blivious. Who’s to say?
60% Of The Time, It Works Every Time
Each crime scene is laughably sparce with little to see or interact with. Each section requires you to locate all CCTV cameras in the area as well as so-called ‘clues’, which range from a blooded knife to a tyre mark and, while easy to find on account of the lack of the presence of anything else, can be massively annoying to click on due to the central screen position required to register a hit. No crosshair to help you there. Don’t worry though, you’ll know when you’ve spotted a camera as the ugly mess of a HUD kindly ticks off your list. Not to worry, only one ‘cameras’ left.
As someone who will always opt for the Controller option, I was happy to find CAMEO support a configuration of sorts. The problem here is that it effectively mimics mouse movement, offering nothing by way of sensitivity slider or even a clue as to where controls are mapped. Given the fast movement of the first-person camera, it was borderline unplayable. Turning to the mouse and keyboard controls then, the standard WASD movement scheme does the job, though there is no option for button mapping. Given the controls require you to left-click on points of interest, a function mostly resigned to pointing out CCTV camera locations, and nothing else, it’s not a huge gripe. Oh, my apologies you can, on one occasion, pick up a golf club and flail it around like a weapon. Not for any particular reason but it’s something to do.
Pulling everything together, eventually, is an overarching murder mystery. Well, sort of. There’s no order or pattern to anything that happens, it just so happens that each of the crimes take place within a square mile. And there isn’t really anything to relate the cases, so maybe overarching isn’t strictly accurate. Work with me here, I’m trying to emulate the method CAMEO employs to build suspense. It’s super effective.
I Want A New Mistake, Lose Is More Than Hesitate
After lugging around Flo’s slow-as-hell lead-filled legs to reach your nauseating goal of staring at a camera, you’re unceremoniously transported to the office. This is where the neurons really fire. Enter the man behind Flo’s concise instructions: one cool customer that goes by the name of Detective Buzzard.
Buzzard knows the game, he’s clearly been around for a long time. You see, when Flo slides into his office chair and boots up his finest Acorn computer, he’s greeted with an instructive email. Buzzard won’t make this easy for you though, the man wants results. That or he’s playing an elaborate prank.
Don’t Say It Doesn’t Matter Anymore
So, Buzzard, what’s the crack? You want me to find out how the murderer conceiled their weapon on entry? You want me to solve how they left the building without using a door or window? What’s that? You want me to tell you the reg of the vehicle on the two minute clip of CCTV footage that you just provided to me? And so, Jesus wept.
To get in the mindset of these two investigators you should ask yourself: what requires the understanding and know-how of a seasoned pro more than identifying which guy threw the first punch in a non-lethal game of fisticuffs? Or the sheer resilience needed to rummage through some footage – kindly pre-cut to parts of interest by your man, Buzzard – to find the colour of the van owned by the armed robber? This is the sort of serious business they tangle with.
Clicking around Flo’s desktop is akin to using a toy computer with stickers on the screen as a replacement for functioning applications. Our regular Poirot uses the cleverly named ‘Camera Application for Monitoring Evaluation and Observation’. Observation, for when monitoring just isn’t enough. Once the CAMEO overlay boots up version 126.96.36.199 of Quick Time, you scroll through a series of blurry cameras which show a short series of powerful classics like ‘watching paint dry’, ‘CSI: NY’ and 1990’s finest Sunday sleep-inducer ‘Heartbeat’. There’s a crime or a person doing something in there somewhere, should you care to watch for long enough.
Once you’ve got to the point, you’re to type in a keyword or phrase in an email response to Buzzard. Answers range in quality from ‘the butler did it’ to ‘his prints were on the murder weapon’, though often condensed into a single syllable.
Is He Behind The Door? No!
The high stakes don’t let up, as Flo (on several occasions, egged on by Detective Buzzkill) watches a very slow ‘live feed’ of vehicles belting it down the highway at terrifying speeds. Upwards of 15MPH on occasion. Your task is to click the van that looks like the one on the picture. Think Spot the Dog, but not as difficult.
Sometimes things get a little heated. At one point it is even suggested that the motel owner doesn’t want anything happening on his turf that could be bad for business. This same guy named his business the ‘Stardust Motel’. You turn up and he’s nowhere to be seen. That’s right, he told me to arrive, then wasn’t there. Don your hat and pipe, Flo, crime is afoot. Whether that was a choice made to avoid awkward, stilled, mumbled dialogue or one made so Flo didn’t have to watch his awkward character model scuttle about with the grace of a crab fleeing a seagull, we’ll never know.
This pointless scenario epitomises every event within this short game. Nothing ever feels consequential, everything is slow and clumsy, everything you do could have been replicated by Briggs and Lewis. There are no gameplay mechanics, no difficult puzzles to decipher or even consider. Flo’s role is best described as that of a toddler pointing at a poster to identify colours by name.
Should’ve Gone To [Barnard Castle]
All-in-all you’re left feeling like you’ve taken a SpecSavers eye examination twelve times in a row while the optician occasionally pokes you in the eye. And I’m not even talking a Classic Dom eye test.
In the absence of the snail crawl pace and the worthless exploration, the ‘puzzles’ and desktop-related actions would likely put this game at around thirty-forty minutes for completion, if that. Thanks to one specific case providing very peculiar instructions, the final clock stopped nearer to the two-hour mark (spoiler: the solution is literally ‘nothing’). With the dreary voice acting and the torturously short music loop, it will feel like longer. It’s impossible to recommend you play CAMEO to completion unless your daytime occupation is Accountancy. Only then would you know comparative tedium.
That said, the ending will blow your mind. Well, sort of. It will make you want to blow your brains out. Close enough.