What's Eric Playing?: Week of July 08, 2019

What's Eric Playing?: Week of July 08, 2019

We’re back with five reviews this week! Some puzzles and mysteries, a killer android, and some very irritable dogs this week! Check them out! As always, clicking on the title of the game will take you to my full review.

I’m also doing a giveaway for four years of What’s Eric Playing? Find out more here.

Overall, though, I think Chronicles of Crime is a lot of fun! I think what would really bring it to the next level, for me, is if it had a more robust hint system (sometimes I’m just stuck and I need to know what I’m missing) and if they upgraded the app so that everyone could use their phone as part of a shared state. That takes the emphasis off of one power user (which will prevent some quarterbacking), and you could present it as a team of cops all being in different locations and checking in with each other. Not saying that hidden information will help solve a puzzle, but filtering the information through multiple players can increase their buy-in to the experience beyond just them holding cards while one player monologues. It may also be nice to develop out a kid-friendly version of this (if they’re not already), as this one has some pretty graphic depictions and some definitely-not-family-friendly content. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it is going to make the game hard to play with your family or something. Either way, though, it’s a very clever conceit for a game and the reusable components are nice since it makes gameplay a content problem, rather than a production problem. Additional modules can be created just by creating new links between cards and providing text (not to discount the incredible amount of work that goes into it by any means; just noting that you don’t have to do cycles at a factory to do that). Yeah, overall, I’m a fan of Chronicles of Crime, and if you’re looking to solve some mysteries, sleuth some clues, or try your hand at some pretty challenging puzzles, I’d definitely recommend you consider checking it out!

Overall, I think Here Comes the Dog is interesting and fun! I think it shakes out favorably that there are more things I like than things I don’t, but I’ll freely admit that this is a game I don’t really see myself playing all the time. It’s a bit long for a filler, but a bit too random to be a meaty game that I want to play when I’m feeling something that’s a bit closer to standard weight. That’s an unfortunate spot to occupy, but, I think it’s doing its best, so I’ll still likely play it from time to time. It’s got a lot going for it! Great pieces, incredibly silly gameplay, and some very bright and bold colors make it another attractive game in itten’s line (which, again, they generally always make attractive games, so this isn’t a huge surprise). I think it’s the right spot for wanting to play something silly and not really caring how long it takes; you can very easily grab a snack or a drink and just kinda let the game happen for a bit and that’s fine. If you’re playing with hardcore strategics, this isn’t going to be the game for them, as it’s incredibly random and mostly revolves around rolling stuff that should or should not be rolled and whatever happens, happens. If you’re looking for some silly way to pass some time between games, though, Here Comes the Dog may be just what you need! I think it’s pretty entertaining.

Overall, I think Capturing Cage is fun! I think if it were to get localized to the US, there are a few things I’d want to change. While I’m not usually pro-bigger-box, a larger box would make it easier to store some sheets (hopefully foldable dry-erase boards, rather) so that players didn’t have to carry those separately, which I think is kind of a pain. I’d also love a fix for players that are Captured, but that might just be the name of the game, I think. Either way, it’s a very nifty atmospheric game that shoots for a mood, and then sustains it every turn. You’re legitimately nervous as you turn corners that the Android is gonna find you, and there’s no way to tell which Scientist the Android is going to go after at any given time. I like that aspect of the game, and I think more 1 vs. many games would be fun to try, given how that creates an interesting cooperative tension. I want to help you, my friend, but I don’t want to get got, myself. Balancing those feelings is key to victory, and victory is hard-won no matter who ends up winning. It can occasionally make games feel long, even if they’re relatively short, since it’s just a very cerebral game. That said, I know a lot of people who would love something like this. If that sounds interesting to you, or you’re looking to make a point about the dangers of unchecked AI, or you just like the idea of being a terrorizing robot, Capturing Cage might be worth checking out!

Overall, I was actually pretty pleasantly surprised by Cover Your Assets! I think I underestimated it a bit because of all the take-that, but my first play went so well that I had to rethink it, a bit. Sure, it’s aggressive, but that’s the point of the game, rather than a mechanic hastily added onto an otherwise not aggressive game, you know? It means that the game sets the terms of those interactions and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. That also tends to work well for games that you’re going to be playing with younger players (this one’s rated for 7+), since there’s not a ton of complexity to the game itself. Sure, the place where this breaks down a bit is that the game relies a bit on luck to make some of the magic happen, but that should cancel out over multiple rounds, in theory (and even if it doesn’t, it’s hard to care too much, unless you never draw a Wild card, which is frustrating). Either way, playing this makes me interested to see if additional complexity will make the game more or less interesting, so I may check out Cover Your Kingdom soon, should the Kickstarter fund. Either way, I’ve had fun with Cover Your Assets, and if you’re looking for a quick family game, you enjoy acquiring stolen wealth, or you’re just here for some take-that in a fun setting, this one might be for you!

Overall, I’m a big fan of Escape Room in a Box: Flashback! I think it’s an absolutely lovely entry-level escape room game that does a nice job of having things in it for everyone. Similar to the EXIT games, it has a wide variety of different types of puzzles, but, it doesn’t hinge on being a single-use game, so you can pack them up, replay them, and even attempt different paths to complete the solution! Just so we’re clear, though, you do have to complete all three paths before the game is done. I really appreciate puzzle games with nonlinear paths, as it helps the game scale to higher player counts without it being a lengthy exercise in watching someone else do puzzle magic (which is less fun). Additionally, I appreciate the three paths having their own themes; it made me feel as though I were playing different puzzle games each time I took up a new path. Some players may not like that you play mostly independently on the path, to which I’d just recommend increasing the player count so that you have two+ people working each path and working together, if that works for you. While I do appreciate some of the more unconventional puzzles, requiring a freezer is in line with The Catacomb of Horrors’s strange requirement for a lighter, and both limit the available environments that you can play the game in. It’s worth knowing that in advance; last thing you want to do is to try and pick this up in a place where you’re going to struggle to solve one of the puzzles because you’re missing a critical component. I know that it mentions it inside the box, but it’s also a bummer to open up a new game and then have to close it because you can’t play it with your current group. I’d like to avoid that, so, here’s secret knowledge. Regardless, I had a blast with this escape room game, and if you’re looking to get started or you, like me, just really like escape room games, Flashback may be a great one to try! I had a lot of fun with it.

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