Toy Corner

Review of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

Mar 18, 2024

Review of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

In a fresh twist on traditional board gaming, Detective brings the investigation into the 21st century. Not only are you working with a deck of cards, but you're also utilising the internet in your quest for answers. It's a modern integration that's sparked debate - is it an innovative step forward or just a needless distraction?

The investigation genre isn't new to board gaming. It all started with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and has branched out into various games like Mythos Tales, Time Stories, and even House of Danger. But does Detective manage to bring something new to the table? Let's find out.

Overview of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

Detective pushes the boundaries of traditional board games, infusing electronic aspects into its gameplay. Most of the action occurs in front of a device, typically a tablet, desktop or laptop. Detective is built on countless entries, cross-referencing them to unfold an intricate storyline. Investigators tackle these entries first, avoiding in-game time consumption.

There's quite a bit of reading involved in Detective - a job typically designated to a narrator. The narratives veer on the lengthy side, at times obscuring rather than clarifying the case at hand. Essentially, the success of your investigation hinges on the narrator: their ability to first recite everything, then distil the fluff from the substantive material, as players synthesise all the information together.

It's important to note, though, that the game's centrepiece - a database - functioned ideally during my playtests. Nevertheless, it's no guarantee of the same in the future. Electronic support is vital for hybrid games like Detective, and if it stops, the game loses its essence. This is a universal issue for all hybrid games.

Though the gameplay feels refreshing and engaging, the rulebook tells a somewhat different story. It portrays Detective as a game carrying a lot more weight than it does. In my opinion, this doesn't sit well with most dedicated board game players.

Detective, with its modern twist on classic board games, offers an experience like no other. The challenge of sieving crucial bits from tons of fluff sparks the thrill of actual investigations. And isn't that exactly what an investigation game should achieve? On the flip side, the game's over-reliance on electronic support and a somewhat misguiding rulebook pose valid concerns.

No game is perfect, and all games have room for improvement. Detective brings a unique charm to the table but still has room to grow. Keep in mind, that your enjoyment of Detective will largely depend on your acceptance and navigability of its unique game structure.

Gameplay Mechanics Of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

In the world of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, players are put to the test with a uniquely immersive gameplay experience. We'll delve into the variety of game mechanics that make Detective shine, focusing on the case files, leads and evidence, and the pros and cons of gameplay.

As we strive to solve the mysteries that shroud every game of Detective, case files play a significant role in shaping the journey. Each game comes with five distinct case files, essentially a deck of cards that reveal evidence, interviews, data analysis, leads, and other bits of information. These crucial details guide players towards a verdict on who the killer might be, their possible motives, and other relevant insights.

As we progress, we sketch an image of the case that's as complex as real police work. It's in the nuances of these case files that I often found myself, pen in hand, jotting down every shred of information that might lead to a breakthrough in the case. The game's innovative design truly encourages deductive reasoning and meticulous note-taking.

Following leads and unearthing evidence lay the foundation of Detective. From interviewing suspects to examining crime scenes, I found myself sifting through a sea of data on the Antares web app, the game's digital detective database. With this app, I felt like a genuine detective, decoding fingerprints and matching evidence from the crime scene.

It's a source of thrill to witness leads giving way to other leads, unfolding a series of breadcrumb clues. Although it can initially seem confusing, the sense of accomplishment as pieces of the puzzle start to click into place is unparalleled.

Solo and Multiplayer Modes

In the vibrant world of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, the experience caters well to both multiplayer and solo ventures. Managing the dynamics in multiplayer mode is quite a challenge. I'd suggest sticking to a group of three or four players if your companions share an affinity for this sort of game. A full table might turn towards chaos, making players feel disengaged due to a lack of action. On the other end, in a two-player session, the narration task falls heavily on one individual, diluting the collective brain power.

In contrast, the solo mode allows complete autonomy. It's just you and the narrative, no interruptions, no sharing duties. An ideal way to immerse yourself, if you have at least three to four hours handy for an uninterrupted session.

The play revolves around Authority tokens that mimic the team's reputation within the Antares organisation. By spending rounded hours writing case reports, investigators can beef up their authority cache. These tokens can then be leveraged to persuade superiors and achieve specific results. Interestingly, all unique abilities are deeply linked to Authority. One investigator might add to the team's authority, while the rest can add skill tokens, alter their types, or reuse a skill, all through authority spending.

Another game mechanic, leads, are usually activated by drawing a three-digit card from the deck. Some leads encourage players to dig deeper by laying down a skill token. It's engaging, yet frustrating, to know that not every lead or instance of deep diving yields results. A sea of red herrings awaits. Players can input any information gleaned from leads into the Antares Database as personal files or evidence. The database keeps track of every reading during a session, offering future reference points. The ability to follow leads adds a real element of intrigue to the overall gameplay experience.

Pros and Cons Of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

My experience with Detective was overwhelmingly positive, but that's not to mask the game’s flaws.

On the upside, I was immersed in the genuine detective experience. Detective boasts of simple mechanics that once mastered, unobtrusive, blend into the background, allowing players to focus on the unfolding narrative and their ongoing investigation. The emphasis on actual detective skills, coupled with the advanced use of technology, makes Detective a striking deviation from other detective-style games.

The Antares Database, despite having some sceptics, was an integral part of my game enjoyment. Following leads, matching evidence, and reading through personal files and interrogation transcripts made me feel like a real detective.

However, Detective does err on the side of being overly verbose in its writing. Moreover, its heavy reliance on the mechanic nature may be off-putting for some players. The complexity belies the simplicity portrayed in the manual, and while this doesn't diminish the overall enjoyment, a clearer portrayal of the game's intricacies would be a significant improvement.

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is undeniably a gem in the modern board gaming scene. Despite its quirks and potential areas of improvement, the thrill of the chase, the construct of the narrative, and the exhilaration of the investigation make it worth every turn.

Final Thoughts

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is a thrilling ride, whether you're going solo or playing with a team. It's a game that keeps you on your toes, challenging you to manage resources and unravel complex mysteries. The unique Authority tokens system adds a new layer of strategy, making every decision count. The Antares Database, a clever addition, ensures you're never lost in your investigations. Whether you're a seasoned board gamer or a novice, this game offers a captivating blend of strategy and narrative that's hard to resist. It's immersive, it's compelling and it's worth your time. I'd highly recommend diving into the world of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game.