Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Chronicles of Crime
Publisher: Lucky Duck Games Designer: David Cicurel
Artist: Matijos Gebreselassie Player Count: 1-4 Age Appropriateness: 14+ Playtime: 60-90 Minutes
“Chronicles of Crime is a cooperative game of criminal investigation mixing board game, an app and a touch of Virtual Reality. You and your team will be put on crime cases, moving all around town, interviewing suspects or witnesses, and searching for clues in 3D scenes!” Thematically this game is primarily a game of investigations, but due to the nature of the game the possibilities for individual case themes are endless. As of this review being written there are cases set in London, Los Angeles in the 1950s (Noir Expansion), and Redview (Redview Expansion) which is a fictional small town set in the 1980s.
"Players start the app, choose the case they want to play, and follow the story. The goal being to solve the chosen case in the shortest short time possible. You receive a score based on your level of success. Using Scan & Play technology each component (locations, characters, items, etc.) has a unique QR code, which, depending on the case selected, will activate and trigger different clues and stories. This means players will be able to get new cases after the game is released simply by downloading app updates. Ultimately this saves the buyer money since shipping of new physical components is not needed to expand replayability. The VR experience only requires a mobile phone. Players simply put VR glasses onto their mobile device and hold their mobile device in front of their eyes, to immerse themselves in the game's universe and search for clues in a virtual world. There are other options such as using a full VR headset or using no headset at all to navigate crime scenes. The game comes with 1 tutorial and 5 cases, but more can be downloaded directly inside the app! Each case lasts around 60 to 90 minutes though many cases are connected to each other in order to tell a much bigger story."
What We Think
Gameplay & Rules
Let me get straight to the point. This game is not just a pretty pony or innovation gimmick. Chronicles of Crime (CoC) is a fantastic experience that broadens the category of board games. If this were a video review you would see me geeking out as I begin this review. Without a doubt it is a board game, but its careful pairing with technology has made it a completly unique game both in my collection and in the tabletop world. The gameplay is smooth and the possibilities are diverse. With any crime solving game you run the risk of having a streamlined set of tasks that makes players feel as if they are just following a preset trail of outcomes. If that happens the gameplay can begin to feel quite dry, especially after the first play. CoC avoids this pitfall by creating the feel of an open world that players must actively navigate through. Whether you are playing an easy mission or a difficult one you are constantly forced to choose where you'd like to travel, who you'd like to interrogate, and what scenes you'd like to investigate all while making sure to keep solid records of your discoveries. You as the player stand before an imaginary wall of webbing attempting to tie everything together. I'm telling you, Chronicles of Crime gives me everything I could want in a group investigative esperience for a fraction of the price of something like an Escape Room. It should be mentioned that personally I had some concerns about ensuring that everyone playing was able to stay involved in the game at all times. When dealing with a cooperative game this is always something to consider. However, I believe that if all players are actively aware that they are on a team and it is laid out beforehand that the phone should be regularly passed around the table this is not a problem. Just as with any cooperative game an alpha gamer could take over, but I would attribute that to the player rather than to the game since it would be difficult to do. One aspect of the game that must be mentioned is the connection with virtual reality. You do have the option of simply swiping around a scene on your phone, but if possible using VR is the way to go. You step into a very realistic scene with a strict amount of time to scan the crime scene while shouting out everything that you see to your teammates. It's their job to write fast and your job to clarify what you've said after the time runs out. You can always go back and scan the scene again, but that will cost you precious time! Being immersed like this with a time constraint is exhilarating and tense, only adding to the experience. In regards to the rules they are about as easy and straightforward as they come. At least for the base game it's pretty much as simple as follow the app and make your own decisions. Can't really ask for a more freeing set of rules. Negatives you ask? I had to think HARD to come up with this one. To be fair, it's hardly a negative, but I would say that I certainly enjoy some missions more than others. I don't think any I have played are "bad", but I did find that as you play your expectations only rise. You must be careful not to expect the same feeling from every mission and be okay with the fact that your own preferences are going to lead you to enjoy some missions more than others and that is okay!
Components & Art
So I love the gameplay...what about the components? Perfect. You may be thinking, "Review invalid. You can't really say that can you?" Hear me out. I almost went a different direction with this. The cards are simple. The location boards and forensic contacts are thin. I almost put in this review that they coud've made these things more dense or thicker, but after slowing down to consider why they are this way I realized it wasn't just an effort to cut cost. When you play CoC you will be moving stuff around constantly and searching through card stacks. Not only that, but you need a fair amount of table space. If these components were thicker or bigger I can say with confidence the game would be less enjoyable. The components are perfect for how they will be used. Additionally I think the art is fantastic. From the box to the cards the art is great quality and brings your experience to life. When you combine the effectiveness of the table components, the excellent art, the box insert, and the quality mobile app you have a rock solid list of components that make this game complete.
Here at Green Akers Games we love games. It sometimes can be difficult to be a reviewer since almost every game has at least something to love about it! So what we like to do is simply let our readers/viewers know if we think this game is a game we’d choose to pay for, play, and recommend to others without hesitation. A 3 out of 3 is a perfect score while anything less means the game has missed the mark somewhere in our eyes! Please keep in mind, our perception of or feelings about any game should not trump your feelings about that game. We believe that if a game interests you that you should at least give it a shot! Utilize your local FLGS or local gaming group to test out games before you decide to go all in!
Chronicles of Crime gets a 3/3 from us as it is a game we will happily pay for given the price point and is without a doubt worth the money for us. We also would have no problem putting this in the game bag regularly to have as a play option for game nights. Lastly, we can recommend this game without hesitation. I suppose if you absolutley hate working as a team or do not like the idea of experiential gaming you may not enjoy the game. Do know, just because we love the game does not mean YOU will love this game as not every game is for everyone, but here at GAG we think Lucky Duck Games has created a masterpiece that we hope will be supported for a long time!
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