Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Murder is a foot on the streets of London and the local bill needs your help to square away the crime. Chronicles of Crime is a detective board game set in London with many iconic locations represented on the components. However, the included campaign does take a rather tourist-y view of Britain. You interact with MI5 and even encounter the british royalty, it would be like us writing a game set in the USA where Trump invites a beat cop to lunch at the Whitehouse. Still, poetic license aside Chronicles of Crime has a fairly unique central mechanism that uses an app. I know some board game purists are against apps in games, but I’m not one of them and I’m happy with the integration of this one. All the cards in Chronicles of Crime feature a QR code. The app can read these codes and allow them to interact.
Scanning a location code move you to that location, while scanning a person’s code allows you to talk to them about other people, items or clues you have discovered. The app take the place of a gamemaster, telling you how the various people react and their reactions can change based on the information you have gathered. The app also allows you to examine the crime scenes in a fully three dimensional way. The app shows you the scene and you must move around and look for clues. This is a really cool feature which is a little under utilised in the game in my opinion. The main components of the game are vaguely generic, although gorgeously illustrated, allowing the designers to reuse them in different scenarios meaning you can download new content without having to buy physical expansions. This is where the game hits a little bit of a snag for me. It ships with one 3 part campaign and two stand alone missions both of which are marked with content advisory warnings. That is around £5 per scenario (each of which lasts around 60-90 minutes). I enjoyed the game but I also think that this is a little on the steep side and I’m not sure how I feel about the increasing trend of microtransations in board games.
It is worth noting that Lucky Duck has released a scenario editor and there are new scenarios available for free on the board game geek website. My second problem with the game is the freeform nature of it. In both the second and third scenarios we hit a point where we had spoken to everyone and couldn’t think of what else we could try but knew we didn’t have all the information, however the game has no hint function, so at that point we wandered aimlessly between locations running out the clock. I wouldn’t have said no to a little more structure. All that said, we had a good time. The game isn’t easy and it definitely gives you the feeling of being a detective and following the trails of evidence. We didn’t do very well, we failed to stop the murderer in scenario 2 and completely missed a whole storyline, scoring just 35/100 and in scenario 3 figured it all out but failed to stop the plot and got the “bad” ending. Chronicles of Crime is a good experience, it would make a great #gamenight event, but if you want to play it a lot you’re going to need to invest in additional content through the app or take a chance on the community scenarios.