Chronicles of Crime is a cooperative game of criminal investigation. The base game comes with 6 scenarios (1 tutorial + 5 investigations) for a total of 6 to 8 hours of gameplay. More scenarios are and will be available without buying new physical components because material is fully reusable to play new stories way after you have purchased the game. The “Scan & Play” QR technology enables each character, location, or evidence to give the game capacity to become anything based on each author’s take on it. A key element of Chronicles of Crime is also the capacity to search for physical evidence in Virtual Reality with your smartphone.
Immersive Story (+6)
Since you have the opportunity to read through responses from characters you see, you hear their voices in your head and see it come out of their mouth. While this does sound a bit awkward and creepy, it really does help you become invested in your efforts. These characters also tend to sit at the same location and so when conferring with the rest of your team — or if playing solo, yourself — you’ll remember logistics details like travel time and where these characters like to spend their hours. Even more so, the technology backing this game will literally push you into the environment, which adds to the way your brain can illustrate your surroundings. This is especially helpful if you are not good at that sort of thing.
Time Passes (+6)
Unlike with other investigatory games, every encounter you have is not simultaneous. In fact, it can be crucial to pay attention to the time of day, and there may be scenarios within which you must wait a certain amount of time before getting any answers. In this sense, logistics is a fun puzzle to solve in and of itself, as well as spending time on things that are worth your time — like real life! Even more so, traveling from location to location takes into account that you have not developed a time machine and actually need to travel like a real human.
Suspenseful Use of Technology (+6)
You’re often on a phone, so at some points a text message will interrupt you. There may also be a crime scene using the AR glasses and the unfamiliarity of the floor-to-ceiling environment is fun as you look around. The level of uncertainty, novelty and lack of familiarity drives the suspense in a satisfying way.
Component Flexibility (+6)
Sustainability, as I’ve mentioned before, is important. Since this is QR code driven, and there are a plethora of wide but specific categories. You can really make any story out of what is available, program the scene and dialogue very easily. So this game can take lots of expansions, and the publisher has not been shy about hinting at this.
Facial Stereotypes (-2)
It really irks me when the scenarios use specific facial stereotypes or features to allude to cultural backgrounds. Especially considering the game is dialogue driven, not all folks of that cultural and/or gender group say or sound like those specific things or even care about specific topics. Generalizations are made for the sake of the story, but we really need to do better.
Ambiguous Categories (-2)
You can waste some time reviewing crime scene evidence because team members may categorize items differently. The downside to this: it does take time off if you don’t pick the right category. Consequently, the game punishes you for having different viewpoints during crime scene investigations, but rewards you during logic or deduction scenarios.
Story Tropes (-3)
If you’ve read enough books or watched enough movies you can jump to conclusions that most likely will fit the story and get you lots of points in the scenario. All this means is that the publisher needs to do better at storytelling! But to be fair, even box office movies struggle with originality these days.
History Log (-1)
Unless you’re one of those detectives that takes meticulous notes or records all the things ever, this game provides a history log and it makes no sense to me. Honestly, if we wanted this to be an immersive game they would not have provided history. Though, to play devil’s advocate here, everything does seem to be on the phone and your phone does keep history so… eehhhh? Still not letting them get away with this.
AR Glasses Unfriendly to Glasses (-1)
I have eyeglasses. I will never give them up, and I will never subject myself to contacts, but I also want the fun AR experience of this game. It’s doable to wear your glasses and still set the AR on your face but it’s so awkward, makes weird clacking sounds on contact and makes you self-conscious.
Remembering to Change Locations (0)
Certain characters remain at specific locations forever and ever. Locations have their own QR codes and you need to do a little housekeeping and mindfulness of where you are in the world. This is where it’s a little less immersive; you’re not going to suddenly forget where you are, look at your notes at where people of interest are, and then finally move.
Sifting Through Cards (0)
When looking up item categories, it’s really annoying to have to look over piles you’ve already gone through. There are a lot of cards in this game, and arguably you could just put everything in alphabetical order. However, you’re also counting on your memory related to what categories exist in the first place to reach the exact place in the alphabet to look.
Table Hog (0)
Even though there is a main game board, there are some standard cards and helpers that sit off to the side of the board. You’ll also often have some scenarios that have lots of places to go to, and that also sits off of the game board. In fact, the only material that sits on the game board are the smallest cards! Do I have a better solution? No.