Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Chronicles of Crime

Game: Chronicles of Crime

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel

Year: 2018



You work for Scotland Yard, in London, so you're used to solving some terrible crimes. You love the puzzle, piecing together the clues  ultimately to see justice done for your victims.You've seen some terrible things, which only makes you more motivated for each case you're given by the commissioner.

In Chronicles of Crime you are working cooperatively in a group of 1-4 players to collect clues to solve a crime. You'll follow the trail, traveling to different locations, collecting evidence, interviewing suspects and consulting the experts to ultimately identify the culprit, as well as collect other information about their motives and other circumstances surrounding the crime.




Gameplay

Chronicles of Crime is an app driven game, in order to start a game you load up the app and then select the scenario you want to play. In order to do almost everything you use the app to scan the QR code. For example if you want to talk to someone, you scan the card of their location to go there, then scan the code on their character sheet, if you then want to interrogate them about a subject then you scan the QR code on the person/object you want to ask them about. Similarly if you want to use an item then you scan it, if you want to have the morgue investigate a corpse then you scan the morgue card to call them, then scan the character card of the body. Doing these actions will often result in you learning about new characters/locations which the game will instruct you to add to the board, however there are plenty of story elements that are vital to solving the case that you are simply expected to remember.

However the app is more than a QR reader. Chronicles of Crime also comes with a pair of light-weight VR glasses (any VR device that you clip a phone into should work). When you go to a crime scene in the game you get a choice to search for clues, to do this you clip the VR glasses onto the phone and then hold them up to your eyes. This allows you to explore the room in Virtual Reality, while you look around the crime scene you should be calling out items of evidence that you see in the room. The other players will be looking through a deck of generalized item cards (for example a knife would be classed as a "melee weapon"). After you have finished looking you can scan these cards to add them to your inventory, at which point you can investigate them or interrogate people on the new subject.
The components in our preview copy. The art style is already really good quality.
All of these actions take time, there is an in game clock that ticks by as you play. Securely bagging and tagging a piece of evidence might take you 5 minutes, while traveling to a different part of London could take you 30. Eventually you will run out of time, but at any point before then you can go back to the police station an hand in your report. The app will provide a short quiz, trying to ascertain if you correctly worked out who did the crime, where, why and perhaps some other miscellaneous details. The game will then provide you with a score depending on how well you did, there is a button to give you a full case synopsis in case you want to know what details you got wrong.

 
Amy’s Final Thoughts

Chronicles of Crime is very much a story driven game, if you had no interest in the ongoing crime drama then you would find the game very dull. The gameplay at its core is a case of scanning the right combinations of cards to unlock new cards that you have to scan in the right combination to complete the case. Stripped away from story the game is uninteresting. The gameplay is a means to an end, a medium to bring you into the world of bribery, murder and drugs while you sit comfortably in your living room. On that front the VR does wonders. Virtual reality still has a long way to go, but it's come far enough that I can happily say that in enhances this game. For a brief moment you are there, in the crime scene, there's no UI in your way, just your eyes taking in the details of a horrible crime. Of course you have to choice not to use VR, in which case you simply use the mobile as a screen which you can swipe around to investigate.

The art design is slightly cartoony, but things are played straight, you don't see anything too grotesque, but they don't shy away from showing bloody weapons and dead bodies (so beware of playing with young children). The art on the characters is definitely distinctive, while this does result in some off-putting and perhaps typecast characters, that only helps you remember who is who as the case gets more complicated. We only had the ability to play the tutorial and the first part of the first case (which we played twice to get the right answer), but it struck us how reusable these cards are. If it weren't for the VR sections then this game would almost be a blank slate on which to create any crime story you wanted. Chronicles of Crime does a great job pulling you in to a story, I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the other cases when the full game is released.

A VR scene, that one player will be looking qat whilst shouting out everything they can see to the other players.
Fi’s Final Thoughts

I was excited for Chronicles of Crime because of the VR integration, something that I imagine will be the hook for most people browsing Kickstarter when this project launches. I am pleased that the VR element is integral to the game, rather than an after thought. The only way you generate evidence it to scan different locations that you are led to with clues given to you my characters. I was not expecting the app to also be used for the QR code scanning, but I really like how this means that characters can say different things in different games, and can react if you question them about another character or piece of evidence, something I can't imagine being done without an app. I am always pleased when an app enables something totally new in gaming.


Scanning a QR code to ask the Scientist about games and toys, presumably hoping for some forensic evidence.
Story driven deduction games are not really my thing - I get bored quite easily when I can't work something out. Fortunately, Chronicles of Crime is simple enough for me, but I can appreciate that that might mean it's too linear for gamers who like a bigger challenge from this style of game. In spite of this simplicity, we did lose a scenario because we jumped to a conclusion too soon. We played this scenario again and still found it enjoyable and actually found ourselves taking a different course through the locations and characters in the game.

I enjoyed this game quite a bit and it's not like any others in our collection. It definitely has potential if the app is supported with a significant number of scenarios, and I hope that the game's developers some up with some surprises to keep each scenario feeling slightly different. There is certainly some novelty value in using the app and the story it generates is certainly more impressive than the gameplay itself, but I feel like this would be an interesting game to play as a campaign with a group of friends, especially since it seems that the scenarios will link together - we were given information in the first full scenario which we were told was to be used later in the story. We will be seriously considering backing Chronicles of Crime when it launches on Kickstarter.

The Good
  • The game is a lighter deduction game for players like us who found Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective too long and confusing!
  • The app is well produced, with a good structure and timing. We like how it seems to know when you are getting a bit stuck and can give you hints to help.
  • It seems like the cases will link into a broader narrative which is intriguing for the future.

The Bad
  • It is likely that will be limited plays in the game, limited by the number of cases on the app.
  • The technology integration in the app is the most exciting feature for us and after multiple plays this may not seem as exciting.

The Verdict

7/10 - Chronicles of Crime is definitely an innovative game. The app is core to the game and is simple to use and very well integrated. The deduction is fun and quick, but not too challenging, at least at the levels we have played. I hope that further cases would do enough to keep us interested in the system, otherwise the novelty might wear off and the scenarios might play quite similarly.

Chronicles of Crime was a review copy provided to the Board Game Exposure reviewer collective. Chronicles of Crime launches on Kickstarter on 27th February 2018.

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