Detective: An LA Crime Story

8.1 Overall
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Detective: An LA Crime Story

  • Played July 2019
  • Toronto, ON

  • Each case has its own time limit
  • 1-4
  • 29.99

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Ignacy Trzewiczek and the crew from Portal Games are back with Detective: An LA Crime Story, their first expansion to last year’s successful crime solving game, Detective: A Modern Crime Story! If you read our first review, you’ll know how much we absolutely loved this game. Although a couple of our members weren’t able to continue from one case to the next which impacted the amount of immersive fun they had, the rest of us felt the original Detective game might very well be the best immersive, story based game ever created! The real question we needed an answer for this time, “Is Detective: An LA Crime Story, better than the original?”

In this co-operative crime solving game, you’re part of an investigative team of detectives working for the LAPD, set in the mid 1980’s. No resources have been spared and you’ve been granted access to the LAPD online database, albeit a much earlier and less sophisticated database than Antares from the original game. With each new case, police chief Miller will explain what needs to be solved and when you need to submit your report by. Unlike the original game, you’ll need to be extra careful with your time management because final reports can only be submitted at the police station which means you’ll need to travel there (remember it’s the 80’s, there’s no smart phones, wifi access, or internet use for the public yet). When you’ve run out of time, or become completely exhausted by working too many overtime hours, you’ll complete each case by submitting a final report. This is when the chief pulls you into his office and starts asking you several multiple choice questions. If you have enough correct answers, enough evidence, and didn’t take too much stress on the job, you’ll solve the case! Be careful though, if you think you can guess your way through the final report, or answer questions based on your theories without some evidence to back it up, you’ll quickly find yourself back at the beginning and having to replay the whole case again! What makes these cases engaging, and true to life, is you won’t have the time to chase down every lead you encounter. Your team’s skills and intuition will ultimately decide which paths you follow, so just like any good escape room YOU NEED TO COMMUNICATE with each other and stitch information together. During the course of your investigations you may even find yourselves discovering characters and circumstances that seem to have nothing to do with your case at all, and you’d like to learn more…if only you had the time. Thankfully you have the LAPD database to keep track of the characters you interact with and the evidence you discover. Even with the help of the LAPD database, there’s still a lot of investigating, story mapping, and deduction needed to bring these cases to an end.

The game components for Detective: An LA Crime Story are less impressive than the original unfortunately. Many of the pieces remain the same (cardboard skill tokens, player location marker, a deck of numbered cards for each case), but the game board, card graphics, and overall design features are far less attractive. The cards themselves are separated by case, listed numerically, easy to read, and decent in quality. One thing we did appreciate was the new expansion fits within the original box so you don’t need to carry both boxes around. The LAPD character cards are also a downgrade from the original in their appearance and quality which is a shame. Although the game pieces and components were a bit disappointing, it’s the interaction you’ll have with the LAPD database that will amaze you. Imagine sitting around a table where each player gets to have their own device logged into your team account, while collectively gathering and sharing information. In the end, it’s a shame the game components were less impressive this time round, but the real star of the show is the tech integration of the online database, and it’s hard to ignore just how cool it is!

The puzzle aspect of this game isn’t found in the traditional solving of sudokus, riddles, math puzzles, or things like that… Your task is to piece together the right combination of interconnected facts, names, dates, stories, interviews, and evidence you come across. Shouldn’t be too hard right? Think again! You’ll also need to stay focused, because it’s easy to start using your time on areas of interest which aren’t connected to your immediate case. Now you might be saying to yourself: ‘’This sounds pretty dull…is it just reading text non-stop?’’ No, not at all! There IS a lot of reading in this game, and that might be a deterrent for those who have a hard time focusing, but the information is usually broken into several smaller segments so that you’ll always have a moment to absorb, discuss, and theorize before moving forward. Part of the team building fun of this game is found in the interplay between your team members. Even better, if you’re really good at teamwork, you’ll find yourself functioning as a real detective team and feeling that sweet, sweet, crime solving synergy! One person can act as your data entry person, another can be your online fact checker, another team member can be the person who reads through suspect interrogation interviews….etc…there’s several ways you can allocate all the tasks that need to get done, but no matter how you do it, we recommend working as a team. If you’re a lone-wolf or struggle to work in teams, you’ll still be able to play the game, but you’ll truly be missing one of the best parts of the game in our opinion.

And now to the heart of where this game REALLY shines….the immersion! Just like the original, the narrative of this story is incredible. You’ll discover several different paths you can take, and so many intertwined pieces of information you’ll go to bed each night counting down the hours until you can crack open the box again. What’s even more impressive is how the stories of this game are entangled with real historical, biographical, and geographical information that can help. It isn’t necessary to look up the real factual & contextual information throughout the game, but you’d certainly be missing a HUGE part of the overall experience! Gen-X’ers will like it even more because the game recommends having an 80’s soundtrack playing in the background to set the mood (and what sane person wouldn’t want the music from Miami Vice as you solve crimes just like Crocket & Tubbs did back in the day?!). That same wow factor takes place in An LA Crime Story as it did in the original, and you’ll find yourself forgetting these are only fictional stories because of how perfectly it’s tied into real locations, real historical events, and real world information. If you want a story you can invest yourself into, it doesn’t get any better than this! The one downside to An LA Crime Story, vs. A Modern Crime Story, is the overall length and development of the game. In An LA Crime Story, the game is only three cases (instead of five), and because of this you’ll discover the overall connected story sooner than you did in the original. On the one hand, this makes the expansion far more approachable and fun for those who have a hard time investing themselves into a story. It’s also better for those who like the idea of the story being easier to solve because there’s less to remember. At the same time, it also leaves those of us who loved the depth and complexity of the original feeling like the sequel is great, but just not as great.

And story lines slightly different than we were exposed to, but it’s safe to say the overall game is incredible regardless of which leads you pursue. An LA Crime Story is a bit of a step back from the original, but it contained the basics of why we loved the first Detective game so much. All we can say is that this game is well worth the time invested into it. If you’re ready to be obsessed, go buy this game!

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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