Chronicles of Crime: 1900 was gifted to us for review by Lucky Duck Games. This is their latest Chronicle set to release on April 29th, 2021. You play as a reporter who is tasked with solving various crimes that happen in early 1900s Paris. You ask questions, head to new locations and piece it all together before your article is due. It is a little cheesy but it works well for the scenarios and adds to the theme of being an investigative reporter.
The packaging is alluring, artwork is well done and the font is stylized to give you the almost steampunk feel of the post-industrial revolution Europe.
The box is compact and neatly organized. Cards come neatly packaged in Game Trayz, which is the gold standard for almost any game nowadays. Cards have their own compartment and are easy to put away and remove. The cards are soft and texturized for easy gripping and lay flat without curving. There are four separate card types: characters, special items, evidence category and puzzle cards. All cards are easily identified by their backing and color scheme. The puzzle cards (labeled “?” ) are velvety and soft but can be difficult to separate as the cards do not slide across each other easily. By no means was this detrimental to our games but it was a minor issue we encountered.
This was our first ever Chronicles of Crime game and set up was easy. You simply have your board with slots where evidence will go once you find it, or slots with leads you have gained or people of interest. There are location boards with slots for people of interest and cards that have different categories for you to investigate. The game always starts out in the same way. You head to work and are greeted by the editor of the newspaper you work for. You simply take your location board for your newspaper (it has a home symbol), your editor character card 02 and character card 01 (a sort of assistant for help with puzzles should you need it).
To play the game you must download the Chronicles of Crime App, which is free in the App Store or Play Store. A great feature for the app and game is that you can skip reading the rules and immediately start playing the tutorial level to learn. We went this route as we always love to learn a game in an interactive way whenever possible. Each card has a QR code in the corner that can be scanned. You scan locations to go to places, evidence categories to examine items of that type, people to interrogate, and puzzles to solve. Character cards are unique in that when you scan a character you start a sort of conversation with them. While in this conversation mode, you scan other cards to ask that particular character about other characters. So if you wanted to know more info on someone, you just scan their card and the person will let you know anything they know about them.
The game works well and is intuitive after the first few scans and tutorial level. We thought it a little odd that the game was not completely digital or completely tabletop but it is a good mix of the two without getting overly crowded with cards or books. However, just because the game is digital does not mean it will take up a small amount of space. The location cards, board, and other cards will eventually start to consume your tablespace and you’ll start to feel like a conspiracy theorist with pictures of items, evidence, locations and people involved in the crimes you are investigating.
In the cases we played, the scenarios always started out easy to follow but eventually they veer off in odd ways that do not always make the most sense. Sometimes you reach a point where the clues sort of stop and you feel like you’ve already spoken to everyone about everything and just cannot figure out where to go next. We solved all of our cases on time and correctly (for the most part). Perhaps we did not follow the clues in the correct order or missed key information that other players may have caught? Even so, there is a particular puzzle involving that seemed to be out of a video game side-quest. It is strangely placed in the middle of a fast paced scene where time is of the essence and you are tasked with finding out a secret blend of spices.
The game is still enjoyable and there are a few more cases that have not yet been released (at the time of this review). The game is easy to learn, quick to set up and works very well for even a single player. We are looking forward to trying other Chronicles of Crimes in the future.
Language Barrier Playability: This game would be very difficult to play with a language barrier. The cards themselves do not have a lot of text, but whatever text they do have is in one language. The app is available in multiple languages but unless you plan on playing with separate phones and doing the exact same thing multiple times to get to the same point in the story… This game is tough. **Bonus points for being able to play this on solo mode with multiple languages though!**
Replayability: Fair if you like beating your own score. While you can play the game multiple times through multiple scenarios, once you play each case you know the answers and know what to look for and expect. The game does give you a score and if you are into high scores then you would get more replay value.
Artwork: Wonderful. The card backings are gorgeous and the artwork on the character and location cards are very well done. The evidence category cards simply contain text and special item cards have a small icon of whatever they represent. The puzzle cards are a little more intricate and are very well done. The app also has themed background noises to keep you immersed and artwork as well. The noises can be a little repetitive but you can turn the volume down. Exploring the crime scenes was very unique as you could see the game artwork in 360 degree view.
Quality: The components are very well made and the packaging is great. The app is smooth and easy to navigate, though we did find that any sort of light shining on the cards would not let the QR code scan. Not detrimental but it did add some unneeded time to our play.
Strategy: Not applicable for this one, unless you count working together as a team to solve the cases.
Instruction Manual: Very well made but strangely unnecessary as the tutorial level will teach you the rules and is much more fun than reading a manual.
Organization: The pieces are organized in a Game Trayz container and incredibly easy to organize. One thing to note is that there some unnecessary dead space in the box. It is by no means a bad thing but we always appreciate compact boxes that take up less room on our shelves.