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Chronicles of Crime – Review

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Chronicles of Crime is a mystery solving detective game by Lucky Duck Games. It is a brilliant cooperative adventure game that enhances its narrative with modern technologies. For this game you will need a smart phone, as the story is lead by a free mobile app, but at least you don’t need internet connection at all time.

The game was backed on Kickstarter by 9108 people for a total of $795,244 (about £675,826).

Chronicles of Crime comes in a medium size box with a game board and few decks of cards. You have the big location and assistant cards, 52 small item category cards (44 x 68 size), 55 beautiful character cards (59 x 92). The box has an insert that fits the cards perfectly, and it has planned spaces for the expansion cards, which is a really nice touch that stops the game from taking over your shelves.

Chronicles of Crime Board Rulebook and Box
Chronicles of Crime Board Rulebook and Box (with Noir expansion cards in)

The Mechanics

Before you start you need to download the companion app from Google Play or App Store, and on it you will need to download the story you will play. The app has a really nice tutorial story that will teach you how to play the game but the main mechanic is very similar to the old adventure books. You will go to locations, question people, pick up clues, and examine crime scenes.

Each card has a QR code, that when you scan it tells the app what you are doing. For example, if you scan a location you go there, or if you scan a person you can talk to them. You have a deadline imposed by the story, and every time you move to a location or finish questioning a person it takes time. Another way to take time is to look at a crime scene. Every official scenario has a VR crime scene where you stay in the middle of a scene where you can rotate 360 in each direction and note what items you want to investigate. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.

The Scenarios

The tutorial is short and simple. It explains the mechanics of the game very well, and lets you get used to the controls. It’s very well structured, and it doesn’t drag along.

Curse of the Pharaohs is a good and easy scenario that will give you enough of a challenge as a new player while not feeling overwhelming. The story is about a stolen jewels from the British Museum, but as you go along, you find out that finding the culprit is not as simple as it seemed…

The Power Behind is a collection of 3 scenarios and is one of our favourites. Each scenario has its own mystery to solve, but while you solve it, it feeds you little pieces of story for the big mystery at the end. It starts off easy but it gets harder at the end, and the whole experience was very enjoyable.

Every Rose Has Its Thorns is a little bit harder, but the writing felt a lot weaker compare to the others. It is not about the twists, or the solution, mostly the story telling and the characters. But still very interesting, so don’t skip it.

All of these scenarios (5 in total) come for free with the app, and all of have graphic content, sensitive subjects, and some others that are not suitable for children. The box recommends 14+, but most scenarios are 16 or ever 18+. That said, you can download some custom ones that could be more suitable for a younger audience.

Under Extra Scenarios you will find the ones you can buy, which at the time of writing, there were 6 scenarios for £4.59 (4.99), and one for £2.89 ($2.99). That makes a total of £30.43 ($32.93) on top. These have been a hit or miss. So far we have not met one that can surpass our enjoyment from the trilogy, and we hope we see more scenarios that are connected in the future. It’s clear where most of their effort went.

Custom Scenarios

A big plus to this game is the option to download and even create your own custom scenario using their scenario editor. It also comes with nice videos that will take you through the interface, story writing, and the way of creating your own VR scenes.

Unfortunately there is not a pretty list or a page to submit your scenario and download other people’s work. Instead you need to dig them out from a Boardgame Geek’s post which can be very time consuming. Interestingly, most of the custom scenarios are in French, which is obviously great for French-speakers, but unfortunately the translation quality is… not always the greatest for the English version.

Board with item cards and people - Chronicles of Crime
Board with item cards and people - Chronicles of Crime

The App is a Must

Similar to Mansions of Madness, Chronicles of Crime is unplayable without the app. Fortunately, you don’t need a constant internet connection, and the only requirement for the phone is to be able to scan QR codes which most of the average smart phones now do. Last time we checked you need either an Android 4.4 or newer, or iOS 8.0 or newer to run the app.

Could this have been a video game? Absolutely. But it would have not been as half as fun when playing with other people, and shuffling clues around your clue board is extremely satisfying.

Playing with friends and family

Chronicles of Crime is a cooperative game, as everyone works together to solve the crime. The game wants you to pass around the phone to scan the clues, each person to be responsible for only one contact, but that only drags the game on. Also playing on a small phone screen, makes it really hard to people to follow along so what it’s a good idea to do is to cast it (with Google Home Cast or other applications) on the television so everyone can see. It is nice for everyone to keep their own notes so no information is lost.

The game may suggest 4 people but you can have as many as you like, as there are no real roles or anything. However, it gets very chaotic the more people you have and less fun for everyone, so in our experience it is best played with two or three. It is a great game for couples who enjoy mysteries (like us!). Even if you’re alone, it’s a great experience that you can absolutely play solo, because there are no pieces, no splitting the party, and nothing that actually requires you to have a room full of people (which given the current times, is probably a plus).

Is it worth buying?

Chronicles of Crime is definitely worth buying if you are an armchair detective. It is a nice way to spend a mystery evening with your partner or friends, maybe form a detective club with some wine (may I suggest “Wine and Crime”?). Each scenario will take you about 4 hours of gameplay, and the options of downloading custom one absolutely makes it worth the money.

That said, save your money rather than buying the VR glasses they advertise. You don’t really need it, and you can probably get better for less money. Also the scenes are like 1 or 2 minutes log per scenario, so it is not worth the investment, and you can view them without a dedicated VR device.

Players

1+ players

Setup Time

5 minutes

Play Time

60+ minutes

Age

18 +

Summary

Chronicles of Crime is a great example of how modern technology can enhance the game experience. It is a great value, for it's money, and it has great potential for customisation. It does a great work at immersing you in not only the story, but also in the whole investigation process. A game perfect for any coach detective.

Good

  • Good mysteries
  • Beautiful art
  • User written stories

Bad

  • Unplayable without app
  • Not replayable
  • Inconsistant story quality
7.5
Good
Game Setup
10
Gameplay and Enjoyment
8
Product Quality and Rules
10
Replayability
2

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