From the first time I played Chronicles of Crime, I could tell it was something special (and that wasn’t even in VR!). Chronicles of Crime is a mystery solving board game that integrates virtual reality for players to inspect the crime scene for clues. Designed by David Cicurel, the game includes 55 character cards, 16 location sheets, and 52 evidence category cards that can be combined in many different ways to create a new story to play through. Even more cards are available through coming expansions, with space in the one box to store everything. Their free app includes a short tutorial and 3 full cases to solve. At least 5 additional cases have been created to work with the “London’s Forensic” components from the base game. These can be purchased in the app as they are released.
How to Play Chronicles of Crime
The game works by scanning QR codes on the different components. To visit a location, scan the code on the location sheet and the app will take you through what happens when you arrive and who is there. Certain locations will have crime scenes for you to inspect for clues. Press “search for clues” to take a look around the scene, after which you can scan cards for evidence you found in your search. To interrogate witnesses and suspects, you scan their code and then can scan codes of different people or evidence you’ve discovered to get more information about your case. Four specialists are included in the game who can be called for assistance with different types of evidence. For example, if you find a phone at the crime scene, call the hacker to see if there is useful information on it. All this can be learned on the fly by playing the tutorial case.
Time works differently in Chronicles of Crime than in other similar games (I use “similar” here lightly, as this game is quite unique). Other games that have you solving mysteries like Unlock!, use a 60 minute timer and every second spent discussing with your group is time wasted. Chronicles of Crime instead associates a time value with actions like asking people questions, moving between locations, or calling the specialists for help. The more questions you ask a suspect, the more time flies by. When too much time has passed, the Chief Inspector will start pressuring you to make an arrest. This makes for a more relaxed gaming experience, when players aren’t forced to rush through the game. They can discuss with each other about what to ask suspects or even just get up to grab some snacks. I also really liked this mechanic, because it prevents players from just asking suspects about every piece of evidence. It makes you think like a detective, how can this person help our case, what should we ask them about to get a useful response, et cetera.
A Sleuthing Experience Like No Other
Playing this game feels like going through the plot of a procedural TV show like CSI or Bones. It is absolutely geared towards fans of Sherlock, Psych, and other detective shows. I would love to see licensed expansions for different properties like Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant supernatural mystery novels, or the iZombie graphic novels. Don’t get me wrong, what the game offers already is extraordinarily fun. Nevertheless, the system they’ve designed also has massive potential to let people play in the world of their favorite fandoms.
I think a big question for many people with these types of games, is if I fail to solve the case, is that mystery ruined? The answer is no. You have the option to look at the solution, but I choose not to do that. Even if you are weak-willed and must know, you can still play the case over again because like in reality, you may know who did it, but you still have to prove it. You need to ask suspects about the right things to get the evidence you need to make an arrest. One player in my group read the solution when we failed, and pondered for days about how we could have gone about our investigation differently to get those answers.
Chronicles of Crime is a wholly original game that offers an immersive experience putting players in the detective’s shoes. Even without a VR viewer, the game looks spectacular and is beyond fun. Absolutely recommend. This hit is available now from Lucky Duck Games and your local game stores.