One Board Family: Chronicles of Crime Review
Immersing a player into a board game can be tough. Players have to care about the setting and the game has to be saturated with theme. In 2018, no game did this better than Chronicles of Crime from Lucky Duck Games. Chronicles places you in the shoes of a detective hot on the trail of some pretty tricky criminals. So what makes this game stand out from the other games in the detective genre?
Analog Meets Digital
If you look around board game forums, people often have very strong reactions to digital implementation of board games. Some get up in arms when there is a digital component to an analog game. In my opinion, this is what makes Chronicles of Crime an absolute joy to play.
The game centers around the use of a free app that you download on your mobile device when you unpack the game. The app contains 5 crimes for you to solve and gives you everything you need to interact with the contents within the game box.
The first thing that shocked me about the game was how complete the tutorial was. We barely glanced at the rule book as 4 of us sat down to play for the first time. As the scenario introduces characters, players pull from a deck of head shots with QR codes and numbers. The interactions you have on your mobile device come from the scanning of QR codes across every component of the game.
As you investigate the crime at hand, you’ll look at 3D environments using your mobile device to find clues. When one person at the table looked at a scene, they would share what they were seeing around them. “Bullet casings, a car, a cell phone”. As they shared their findings, other players were looking for item cards that matched what was being shared. Our friend would pass along the device after 40 seconds then another person would take a look around as we talked it out around the table.
Players can view these crime scenes in virtual reality by purchasing an add-on from Lucky Duck that clips onto your phone. While this clip-on works really well, it’s been something that is totally optional. I’ve played with friends who found this functionality annoying and others who loved it. For me, this is something that I’ve used only half the times that I’ve played the game.
Chronicles of Crime does an incredible job of giving players a mission and resources that bring you together as you solve the crime. Playing this game with 9 or 10 different people over the past couple of months has been such a great experience and some of my favorite gaming moments of 2018.
As players scan QR codes on characters, item cards, locations and even special contacts, the game comes alive. Chronicles of Crime immerses the players into the crime they are working to solve. Players add items and special clues to the evidence board as the game unfolds.
One thing I really enjoyed about the game was that it didn’t press players to solve a crime in real-time or force you to find a solution within the hour. Time is recorded within the app as you scan items during the game. Each item that is scanned will add 5 minutes to the in game clock. Each time you travel to another location, you’ll tag on another 20 minutes to your time. This in game time will affect your final score as you solve the case. Taking too much time, or scanning items over and over, will downgrade your final score.
When you feel like you’ve collected the evidence you needed, figured out the motive and have a suspect, head back to Scotland Yard to solve the case. The app guides you through a series of questions that you have to answer by scanning QR codes. The final screen will show you what you got right, where you got it wrong and gives you a final score.
Chronicles of Crime is a truly innovative game and it does it so well. I’ve been so surprised by how well the app works with the game components and the level of polish on the game is impressive. This game brings me back to my first time experiencing the Crime Scanner as a kid with the game Stop Thief.
Lucky Duck has done a great job giving gamers a top notch experience. From the moment you open the box and see the game insert and focus on organization, you know that you’re getting into something special. They’ve even focused on the future of the game by giving you space for upcoming expansions that are set to release later this year.
Over the past couple years, I’ve really enjoyed playing games that give you “experiences”. Games like Unlock!, Exit and Escape the Room are all games that are more than the sum of their parts. Chronicles of Crime is an experience that I’ve had so much fun with. While this is one of my Top 5 games of 2018 and I’ve suggested the game to over a dozen friends, the game isn’t without some small frustrations.
The stories are fun and the crimes you are solving never feel cheap or that they take weird turns that came out of nowhere. But one thing we have noticed is that some of the writing can take you out of the moment. You’ll stumble upon a phrase or the way someone speaks in the game and just laugh for a second. Some of this probably comes down to translations or the way the writer thought a particular person should speak. If you’re a grammar nerd, try not to get hung up on things that you find as you interrogate characters.
Since everything is done using one mobile app, you’ll want to make sure you play with people who are good sharing and passing around a device as you solve the case. Some people will find this really restrictive and a hassle. The people I’ve played with have had no issues passing around the mobile device and sharing in the on screen reading. A good solution for this issue is using Chromecast to mirror your mobile screen onto a TV. This will really come down to the people you play the game with.
Chronicles of Crime wasn’t even on my radar at the time when Lucky Duck brought it to Kickstarter. Since having a copy of the game, it’s been one of my most talked about games in my collection. This game brings welcomed innovation to the detective genre of games. Chronicles of Crime is a must own if you’re a fan of puzzle solving crime games.
You can purchase Chronicles of Crime at your local game shop or through Amazon today.
Lucky Duck Games provided us with a retail copy of Chronicles of Crime for this review. This in no way influenced our opinion of the game.
One of the most innovative games I’ve played in years
A fantastic experience between the physical cards and digital app
Easy to jump right into the gameplay with a great tutorial
Cases don’t take cheap tricks or mislead the players
Sharing a single device may be an annoyance for some
Odd phrases can take some out of the experience of the game