Investigation games are no stranger to our tabletops. From Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective to Time Stories the recent outpouring of escape room games, we have plenty of options when the mood strikes to solve a crime.
With their newest offering to the genre, publisher Lucky Duck Games seeks to embrace modern technology with their app assisted game Chronicles of Crime. In this detective game, players must work together to solve crimes throughout London. So let’s get our investigative hats on and see if this game is a worthy addition to your game library.
Chronicles of Crime comes with four scenarios out of the box (one is a tutorial, all photos in this review are from the tutorial), with two more available as downloadable content for $5 each. To begin playing, players simply need to chose a mission. There is virtually no setup other than pulling the board and decks out of the box.
The app will tell players the narrative and give them the specifics on the crime committed, including a location and any relevant people. Playing the actual game is very easy. Everything revolves around scanning QR codes. If you want to go to a location, just scan that location’s code. Talking to people works the same way. There are decks of people, items/evidence, and locations. Everything you do in Chronicles of Crime takes time off the clock, which will affect your final score (and sometimes the narrative).
When you are talking to a person, you can ask them questions by scanning items or people, and they will tell you what they know on the topic. It’s all very intuitive and easy to use.
To examine a crime scene, your app enters in VR mode. You physically move your device around in 360 trying to deduce what’s relevant to the crime (more on that later). When you are ready to solve the case, you return to police HQ and report to your boss. A few questions on the mystery will determine your final score. Interestingly, the app will know if you’ve not found enough evidence and will send you back out if you don’t have enough.
I found it interesting that two deduction games both debuted in 2018 that use modern technology. The other, of course, being Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game (review here). I’m not going to spend any time comparing and contrasting the two, but I will quickly say that they feel different enough that there is room in your collection for both if you are a fan of the genre.
I’ve found that the technology aspect of Chronicles of Crime works quite well. We had no issues using the app to drive the game, and learning to use it was pretty intuitive. However, the VR crime scene was easily my favorite thing about the game. I loved standing up and panning around the scene trying to find anything that might be relevant to our investigation. We had some lively debates about what might be actual evidence and what was just a red herring (or simple window dressing).
As an optional buy, you can even get little glasses that clip over your phone to magnify things. I didn’t much care for those, as they strained my eyes a little. However, I did appreciate that I could pass the view onto my iPad, which was much easier to see from. When playing with a large group, streaming the view to your TV would be great to let others easily view at the same time.
That being said, the app does do a good job of keeping other players involved. The VR portion is timed, so you have to frantically search while calling out what you see so others can see if the item deck has a matching card. After the time is up, the app will even ask you if you want to pass it to other players before exiting the scene. I thought that was a nice touch.
The main issue I had with Chronicles of Crime was that the QR scanning got to be a bit much. I know it’s the core of the game, but I felt like I was doing it all the time and it ended up getting a bit tiresome. The other downside of everything being contained in the app is that it’s much harder to review stuff. Rather than having cards with text you can pass around and quickly reference, you have to dig through the app to pull up things you might have forgotten. For me, I found it harder to keep thing organized, especially in some of the later missions that had a lot of twists and turns.
Speaking of the mysteries, they did have some interesting stories. However they also follow a bit of a linear path, so it can be easy for players to get stuck. Sometimes we even reverted to brute force as we’d scan tons of things to just see what stuck, turning the game more into a digital scavenger hunt.
Chronicles of Crime’s app integrated system was definitely clever and works well. The VR scanning of the crime scene was brilliant and absolutely my favorite part. However, for me, the game tended to get a little too fiddly with the constant QR scanning. It made the person controlling the device feel a lot more immersed than any other player. I would have preferred more cards, as it would be much easier to keep things organized and to be quickly referenced.
That being said, the scenarios are well designed and sometimes challenging. There are a lot of clues to be uncovered and some missions will keep gamers hunting for hours. If you are looking for something new and unique in the investigative genre, Chronicles of Crime is worth a look.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A good app integrated game with some intriguing stories that leans a bit too much on the app for my taste.
• Constant QR scanning gets a bit tiresome
• Can get stuck in the linear story