Chronicles of Crime: 1900
Written by Justin Bird
Hold the Press
Wits, luck, connections, and the power of the press. The only thing that comes close to the spoken word when spreading news is the written word itself. In Chronicles of Crime: 1900, you are a young ambitious journalist in 1900 Paris. Your task is to dig deep and find all the answers necessary to write a complete story before it’s time for the next edition of “Les Nouvelles de Paris” hits the press. With your eveready messenger bag prepared to open up as a board to place clues collected and a free app to help transport you back in time, you’ll be on your way to solving the next crime that will be read about in the morning news.
If you’re familiar with the Chronicles of Crime series the integration of digital application and physical components will be bolstered by the new puzzles added for depth of gameplay. For those new to the series, this continues Lucky Duck Games perfected use of QR codes to elevate gameplay with story rich details. Every location, character, pieces of evidence, and even new puzzle cards have a QR code that scans into the app and helps move the story in a certain direction based on which are paired together. Most of the cards are presented without text or excessive detail which allows them to be used differently in each scenario. The name of the characters, how they apply to the story, and even which cards represent a particular location, allow the story to be derived within the app itself. As you discover characters at a location you can scan the QR codes to have a conversation to reveal more clues. Some locations will allow for a VR experience of moving your digital device so that it feels like you are looking at a crime scene yourself. As you progress in the story and get to a point you feel you have solved a case, the app will ask you questions and score your result based on your correct answers. You may even have a few questions that you didn’t realize to consider when you get to the end. A twist that may just show you how good a journalist you were.
1900 introduces the new puzzle cards that add a touch of escape room tension that elevates the series to a new level. The deck of puzzle cards is full of intricate maps, texts, and graphics that will either push you to dead ends when looked at wrong, or be the perfect key to the missing information you needed to solve the case. While the rest of the cards and boards rely on the app for details, these puzzle cards rely on the physical manipulation aspect to solve the case. This deck of puzzle cards is designed not to be looked at until instructed too as they run the chance of giving away clues before you get to the part of the story you are solving in the app. Although puzzle cards are one time use compared to the rest of the components, they never detract from the story or the style of play the rest of the Chronicles of Crime series has come to be known for.
Before I divulge my opinions on the game, I want to preemptively state that I have always been of the preference that tabletop gaming was the perfect time to step away from technology to connect with people at the table. This last year was full of zoom meetings, discord chats, and digital only gaming that brought a yearning for in person gaming at a table again. In this instance, the digital gaming aspect didn’t take away from the experience, allowing the time with friends around a table to stay front and center. With each clue found or person of interest discovered we immediately started discussing how it would weave into the web of deceit so many a criminal wishes you to believe when playing. We passed the phone for each player to look around the digital crime scenes, took turns reading aloud the conversations selected by combining the QR codes, and helped each other find the clue cards matching what each person saw. We jumped to conclusions, changed our minds, connected clues, and ultimately smiled. We may not remember the end score or all the details of the case, but we had fun. The game brought us together and transported us into a story for the night. Digital or not, any experience that can do that for me is a win.
Is this a game I crave to pull off the shelf every time I play games? No, though I have no objections if someone asked me to play. Is this a great option for those who want a casual game night with hobby gamers and those new to gaming alike? Yes. With simple to understand rules, fast setup that gets you into the story fast, and enough twists to keep you on your toes until the end, 1900 is a solid addition to the Chronicles of Crime series worth adding to your selves. It brought joy to me being able to play around a table with friends, as I hope it brings you joy as well.