Board Game Review

The Strange Case of the Nosey Reporter and His Useless Uncle! (Chronicles of Crime 1900 Review)

This copy of Chronicles of Crime 1900 was sent to us by Lucky Duck Games for an unbiased review. We aren’t paid for media produced. Think of the greatest minds of detective work, who comes to mind? Poirot? Sherlock Holmes? Inspector Clouseau? Surely it’s none of these folk… There’s an innate ability, passion even, burning inside of every person. A need to know, to discover, to pry. The need to be nosey. It’s inbuilt and the foundation of many strong social structures, from journalism to the mothers’ meetings at the end of the road when someone new moves into the neighbourhood, it’s everywhere. And who better to investigate those busybodies at the local bugle? Chronicles Of Crime 1900 is set in the heart of Paris and follows the story of a well connected journalist who writes less about happenings and more about obituaries and scandals! It’s a wholly cooperative game that takes about an hour to play per scenario.

Gameplay

Chronicles of Crime 1900 follows the same format as its predecessor. Using an app, you scan a combination of locations, witnesses/suspects, clues/evidence and puzzle cards.

Playing The Game

To kick off, you boot the app up and select the case you’d like to work. You then set up the three standard elements for every case. The case will then narrate through the set up of that specific case and instruct you to collect the resources needed.

The constant element across all cases are the newspaper office – Les Nouvelles de Paris, Charlotte Hibou and Jonas J, Jacquemard. Jonas is your boss. He’s demanding but can often help progress the case by sending telegrams and messages to you as you play a scenario. Charlotte, another journalist, is a useful resource for checking if you have all the elements of a puzzle in order to solve it. You have only so many hours to complete the case and solve it. Each action takes time, and solving the case won’t always guarantee a high score, as some points are awarded for investigating every element of a case.

Scanning Codes

The QR codes on the cards interact in interesting ways that are quite common sense in their application. Scanning a location will take you to it. Scanning a character from there will begin an interrogation of that character and allows players to delve into their knowledge of the other characters and clues that have been found. Investigating clue cards will identify their relevance to the case and whittle down the number of things to look into when talking to characters.

In Chronicles of Crime 1900, the action of investigating a crime scene of location is done using the app. One player holds the device and rotates it to look around whilst listing off different things they can see. The other players then find those categories of cards ready to scan and place on the evidence board. Evidence which has been found goes at the top, and evidence you know or is missing goes at the bottom.

Once players are confident they can crack the case, they need to report to Jonas. They are then asked a series of questions regarding the events and happenings surrounding the case and are scored on these elements. 100 is the target score, but players can exceed this score.

How It Handles

Chronicles of Crime 1900 is the pinnacle of letting you be nosey. Snooping, breaking and entering, telling the world the hot gossip. All to put food on the table! It’s true 1900s journalism at its finest.

Cracking The Hardest Cases

The scenarios in this variant of the game are tough. Not impossible, but tough. The tutorial and first case are fairly easy compared to the bulk of the others available, but it’s not like you’re lulled into a false sense of security. There’s a clarity in the gradual increase of complexity as your progress in a case. One clue opens three doors to kick off. As your progress, anything new will reinforce or clarify past knowledge, as well as give some more direction, too. It’s less Line of Duty and more Sherlock Holmes. The sort of case where you could solve it before it’s obvious, but still want the definitives.

There’s a good level of difficulty in this game, that’s for sure. But with that comes a point blank honesty from the characters that’s needed to ensure you can’t misinterpret obvious clues. From mumbles and inexplicable guffaws to outright ownership of shady deals, the characters try to make it obvious if you’re along the right lines – should you have enough evidence. On the flip side here, if you don’t have the evidence to back up a suspicion, they’ll clam up real quick. The app tracks what you’ve got by what you’ve scanned, meaning you can’t just sledgehammer yourself to success. There needs to be some clear precision and a bit of tact.

The World’s Worst Police Officer

The constant link between your journalism and active crime scenes is your uncle. He’s a detective and always seems to be knee deep in shady criminals and other people’s bodily fluids. Anytime you see him, he’ll always be accompanied by some poor cadaver. What’s more is that he always seems ignorant to what you see as a journalist – much of which is common sense!

You rock up after he’s called your office with a “hot one” and find him kneeling by some poor soul’s corpse. (You’ll eventually get the feeling he himself may be pretty shady, but he’s your uncle so you’ll forgive it.) He gives you the background and then just sticks around that location letting you do the leg work. Sure, he makes the arrests and whatnot, but surely it’s you who’s solved the case, right? Where’s your cut of the glory? Why, you’re nothing more than an errand boy! Surprisingly this formula for triggering any investigation works and works well. There’s some solid writing linking your journalism to the police work your uncle conducts. It’s a different spin on the narrative each time, but one that makes each case unique in its execution.

It Was Unforgivingly Cold and Shrill In Paris that Fateful Night…

Each case is distinctly unique in its setup, delivery and outcome. Some run a narrative with you moving around chasing your uncle as he busts doors down. Others have you as the observer, noticing details and snitching at the very last second. Some even link to other cases as a part 1/2! But not all cases are so glamorous as to stick to the beauty of Paris. You’ll venture from the overly luxurious mansions of the rich and powerful, down to the grubby backstreets and workhouses. The industrial revolution is in full swing, and those cashing in on this locomotive of change rarely keep their hands dirty…

We love that Chronicles of Crime 1900’s aesthetic was consistent with a Victorian era art style. It’s pretty, painted and has a lovely elegance to it without removing the grime and grit of the character’s faces. Also, it puts all characters in a a style reminiscent of the era’s fashion. Houses and people fit the bill of being both from their social class, but also their era. The opportunity to investigate the crime scene often takes two looks as the first time you’ll be basking in the beauty of the architecture and visuals. The factories, art studios and mansions of these colourful folk tell lots of stories to give hidden details and prominent clues as to their misdeeds. Nothing escapes an eagle eyed reporter, but that won’t stop you from gawping at the gorgeously furnished boudoirs of the A listers of ye olde Paris!

It Takes Two, Baby!

Chronicles of Crime 1900 has quickly become our favourite coop game we play exclusively at two players. Like a stereotypical good cop bad cop combination, one of us accuses every soul who blinks wrong blindly and aggressively, and my partner looks at the clues available and thinks. It works and is a well balanced approach for us, but is one we can see working with more under certain circumstances.

With two, you can easily discuss and share the app and clues. You each have a role, a job, a purpose. With three? You can put heads together whilst someone interrogates the innocent and scans every code available. It’ll be a good balance of thoughts and approaches, with enough hands and heads to work out the nitty gritty of the many details of the cases. Four is the maximum I’d suggest for this game. It works well, but everyone needs to know the basics of the game to avoid clashes of ideas. More people will just break the game apart and it’ll become a convoluted mess or overly complicated ideas and not enough apps to go around. For us, two works perfectly and it’s a superb amount of fun.

Final Thoughts

We have loved playing and reviewing Chronicles of Crime 1900. It’s a game that we knew the basics of from the original game, but we’re still challenged because of the content of the game’s cases and theme. We loved the feel of being a reporter and someone who watches the case unfold as opposed to the one with the cuffs and baton. You turn up, stir the pot and point the finger, and then write about it. It’s low stakes interrogation without the paper work! We’d absolutely recommend Chronicles of Crime 1900 for two player gamers and groups of gamers who enjoyed the original! This is probably not for families with children due to the theme and some scenes in the scene investigations. So don your deerstalker, puff on your pipe and crack the case!