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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Monday, 29 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chronicles of Crime


Game: Chronicles of Crime

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel

Year: 2018


Chronicles of Crime was a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign from Lucky Duck Games and is now delivering to backers as well as getting a wider release, launching at Essen this year.

What caught our imagination, and probably many others, is how the game seamlessly integrates app technology with the gameplay - using QR codes and VR to intertwine the two. Since it's Kickstarter campaign we're still yet to see  flood of app-integrated games and I don't recall any VR games in that time, so Chronicles of Crime remains very innovative. With the success of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and, more recently, Detective from Portal games, is there still an appetite for crime solving within  the board gaming community and what does Chronicles of Crime have to offer?



Gameplay

Chronicles of Crime is intensely linked with it's app in order to function. While there are a few rules to the game outside of the app, the app won't let you break any of these and you can easily pick up the game simply by playing the included tutorial mission. In order to start a game you select one of the missions via the app and the story will begin.

Along the way you will be directed to fetch cards from the various decks, one for locations, one for people and another for evidence. Location cards are large and support space for up to 3 people cards on them. Evidence cards are small and the central player board has a location to store all of these along with any suspects you might not know where to find.. Most of the game revolves around scanning the QR codes on these cards. You scan a card to go to a location, then scan a person to talk to them, then scan another person or evidence to ask them about that topic.


Then there are the crime scenes: certain locations give you the option to search for evidence, when you do so your app goes into a rotatable picture (or a virtual reality room if you are using the VR glasses). One player will then start calling out what they see while the others go through the evidence deck searching for the relevant cards. After searching the rooms you can scan the cards to collect this evidence, you may then want to call up your experts in the lab in order to extract all the useful information from what you found.


Almost every scan in the game will cost you time, and each working day only has so much of it. As time progresses some characters will move to certain locations or special events may occur. Ultimately at some point you will need to head back to HQ and file a report, once you do so the game will quiz you on the crimes committed and score you based on your time taken and number of questions answered right, before offering an explanation of what went on in case you missed anything.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

For me Chronicles of Crime is a huge success, not least because it isn't afraid to put you right into the shoes of a detective. When you put on those VR goggles you are going straight into another world, a slightly cartoony world, but one of real vice. Don't be shocked to see corpses in these scenes, and emotional topics being brought up by the narrative. Criminals are not nice people, they do horrible things and you are about to see all of that.

We did have some slight issues with the scanning at times, though it was mostly functional it did not like having a light directly above the playing area, so bare that in mind. Never did we experience the game misreading a card though. The plot of the first campaign is great, it ties together nicely and the only major issue we had was a slight misunderstanding about when you can finish the final mission (turns out there is an event that must happen before the game can end). While it is very possible to miss leads and locations, you are fortunate to have 4 helpers that you can phone up any time for advice. The criminologist is perhaps the most helpful in this regard as he has a deep psychological understanding of what you need to do to get people to spill the beans. He's almost a hint system for when you are stuck.

The end of game quizzes always seemed fair, while there were questions we didn't always know the answer to, they always made good sense given the story. There seems to be a strong focus for finding out whoddunnit and why. The game certainly plays well 2 player, though I would have slight concerns at higher player counts, I'd suggest assigning each player locations as they turn up so as to give each person a chance to use the app.


There is a reasonable amount of content, with 6 games in the base box, 1 tutorial, a 3-mission campaign and 2 standalone missions. There are more which can be unlocked for kickstarter backers or by paying a modest fee. with more lined up in the future. and the 2 expansions Chronicles of Crime should scratch that detective itch for some time to come! For being approachable, easy to pick up and having an gripping story, I highly recommend Chronicles of Crime!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Crime solving games are not my favourite genre. I have tried Sherlock Homes Consulting Detective and really didn't enjoy trying to figure out the whodunnit. I hate murder mystery parties. Detective was just an OK experience. In general I don't like the limitless information, story and no clear path through the game. Chronicles of Crime really bucks this trend! I always feel like there's something we can uncover in the game. Leads are obvious enough, but aren't starting you in the face, you do need the time to figure them out and make sure you're on the right track.

Each scenario has a rated difficulty and I think I'm most comfortable at easy and medium. The only hard scenario we've played did start to verge on frustration for me, as I felt we were going round in circles and not really learning much additional information, but we weren't being allowed to solve the case. All of the other scenarios have really given us the feeling of being good detectives and coming to good conclusions, whether or not we do well in the final scoring of the game.

The VR experience is well integrated and for us it seems to be best suited for two-players - one player viewing the crime scenes, while the other looks for the corresponding clue cards based on what they'r calling out. I've been a little reluctant to use the VR because some of the scenes I've seen have been a  bit gory and I don't like surprises! The other aspect of app-integration, with the QR codes has been something I've really enjoyed. I love how the app responds to clue cards differently depending on who your asking, and sometimes based on dependencies with other events that have unfolded in the game. The game feels very immersive as you easily question a suspect and everything they say is relevant to your progress.


I really hope that Chronicles of Crime continues to get app support into the future. Already there is the promise of more content when you open the app - it appears that some content will be in the form of physical expansions (as included in the Kickstarter campaign) and others will be in-app purchases, that presumably re-use the characters, locations and clues that you already have. There's so much that Lucy Duck Games could do to give this game longevity. Besides the additional content, I'm not sure I would replay scenarios, because I know the answers and i think that would taint the experience, but I know others may be less concerned about replaying scenarios with a different group.


You Might Like...
  • Chronicles of Crime is a much more accessible crime-solving game that any other we've tried.
  • The game cleverly weaves together stories into longer scenarios.
  • The app integration is some of the best we've seen. Using the app feels so intuitive and keeps the feeling of an interrogation of a suspect.
You Might Not Like...
  • The theme of some scenarios mean that Chronicles of Crime may not be an the best game for many families.
  • Some of the scenarios can run quite long, with some moments where we didn't know what to do next.

The Verdict
8/10 Chronicles of Crime is a fantastic example of app integration in a board game. It really brings the theme to life and makes the game accessible for gamers who want a lighter crime-solving deduction game. The app has a world of possibility for new content, as well as perhaps user generated scenarios in the future and that's really exciting!


Chronicles of Crime was a review copy kindly provided to us by Lucky Duck Games

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