Review – Detective [spoiler free]

OVERVIEW

Detective is a co-operative story driven board game where you are playing as detectives for a new agency called Antares which uses advanced technology to help solve crimes.

The game is played over 5 cases which all link together with an overall plot line that will slowly be revealed case by case. As detectives you will manage your time over a number of days, travelling between various locations, such as the Lab and Head Quarters or out on fieldwork. You can choose to take on overtime, which allows you to follow more leads but also adds stress, which is worth negative points at the end of the game.

Each case starts with a briefing read from the Case Book along with any additional set-up instructions and time restrictions. During a case you will follow leads, conduct interviews and even collect forensic evidence such as finger prints and DNA. You must use your skills of deduction to decide which information is important and which leads are dead ends. You will want to take notes. Copious notes!!

At the end of each case you will need to complete a final report. This is a series of questions with multiple choice answers which will determine how well you solved the case, if indeed you managed to solve the case! The physical evidence found will also count towards your score as will the negative points received from taking on stress of overtime.

Player Count1 – 5 players
Age16 +
Play Time120 – 180 mins
Weight2.80 / 5
PublisherPortal Games

Disclaimer: This game was provided by the publisher, but my reviews are always 100% honest and all photos and opinions are my own!

GAMEPLAY 9/10

Whilst the story is deep and intricate the actual gameplay is very simple. There are very few rules, to the point where it sometimes doesn’t even feel like a game. This makes it extremely immersive as you are not being bogged down with rules and questions, so you can focus purely on the case in front of you!

I personally found playing Detective to be one of the most engaging and rewarding gaming experiences to date! I love the true crime genre and Detective feels very much a part of that. The stories are based on true events in history and the game even encourages ‘breaking the fourth wall’ by googling certain information during the game.

Detective has a 16+ age rating which I think is fair as the content is very real and of a serious nature. If you are wanting a light hearted murder mystery maybe stick to Cluedo because Detective is not a ‘fun’ game so to speak. It is a wonderfully constructed puzzle but if you are not willing to put in the work you will not get good results. This is a game that requires time (3-4 hours per case) and dedication, but oh my is it worth it!

AESTHETICS & COMPONENTS 9/10

The key to the immersive nature of Detective is how ‘real’ it all feels and that is true for the art used in the game also! There are no illustrations of characters in this game, only real photos and mugshots are used. The rest of the art and graphics are simple and effective but the true work of art is in the Antares Database!

This database is a website where you enter names or file numbers, when directed to, which then provides rich information such as personnel files, witness testimonies or interrogations etc. Although it could have been done in an analog way, thematically it adds so much to the feel of the game that they couldn’t have achieved through cards and paper alone.

There is little in the way of components as it is mainly cards but the quality is the same high standard you would expect from Portal Games. One of my personal favourites is the little evidence bags included in the game which are adorable!

RULES & TEACHING 10/10

As already mentioned the game is very light on rules which makes it very easy to learn and teach! What rules there are though are explained perfectly in the rulebook which is also dotted with useful advice and tips from play testers which is a really nice touch.

Portal Games have also taken the time to help eleviate the alpha gamer issues often found in co-operative games of this nature, they include a guide for different roles players can take in order to evenly divide the responsibilities and it really shows how much thought they have put into the game experience as a whole!

If that wasn’t enough they commissioned a how to play video from Watch It Played and that is always a winning move in my book!!

Our mind map!

REPLAYABILITY 8/10

For some, the replayability of this game is where it falls down but I really don’t see it that way personally. Yes there are ‘only’ five cases in the box and once you’ve played through them you are pretty much done but those five cases give you 15 – 20 hours gameplay at least and the game costs less than a one hour escape room or similar activity!

I very rarely get that much game time out of my games (I may have too many) so for me it’s worth every penny because I know I’m guaranteed to get it to the table. The game can also be reset for trading/selling but I would definitely hold on to it because the first expansion has already been announced with 3 new cases set in sunny California!

As with all campaign games it can be a challenge to get the same group to the table session after session, especially for such long sessions and I do think it’s one of those ones where you will all want to be there for each case. But we’re currently playing it with just the two of us and it’s working really well so you don’t necessarily need to get a full five people together for this game and it can even be played solo if you prefer!

OVERALL SCORE 36/40 = 9

RECOMMENDED IF…

… you enjoy games that tell stories

… you’re willing to put in the time to get truly immersed in the cases

… you fancy yourself as a bit of a detective

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