In CSI: Miami Heat Wave, the player is cast in the role of a rookie CSI agent assigned to help out Horatio and the team as they investigate a variety of cases. The player is introduced to the basic game mechanics through a two-part tutorial that concludes with a simple full-scale case, then sent into the field to continue their career.
Gameplay in CSI: Miami Heat Wave unfolds over several distinct components. Initially, the player must search crime scenes for evidence, which is achieved by clicking on tiles on a grid. The player receives soft currency and experience points for every click, but conversely each click costs energy. Occasionally the player will uncover a “trace,” which causes a glowing arrow to appear on the floor pointing in the direction of a piece of evidence. Following the trace, sometimes over several tiles, will guarantee the player finds one of the objects necessary to proceed.