#987 – Chronicles of Crime: 2400 [Mini]

Base price: $30.
1 – 4 players.
Play time: 60 – 90 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 5

Full disclosure: A review copy of Chronicles of Crime: 2400 was provided by Lucky Duck Games.

Back with more mysteries! I’ve checked out … most of the Chronicles of Crime series, at this point: the original, Noir, 1400, 1900, and now 2400. There’s still the Chronicles of Time, which should be an exciting conclusion to everything I’ve tried thus far, but we will have to see how all of that plays out in the future. I’ve been enjoying the series, but this was really the one I was looking forward to, and now here we are. Let’s see what’s going on in the year 2400!

In Chronicles of Time: 2400, players take on the role of Kalia Lavel, former cyber-agent of BelCor. Solving mysteries has been in your family for … basically a thousand years, so that’s what you wanted to do. Naturally, working for an enormous megacorporation didn’t really meet that need, so you left. Unfortunately, they took a bunch of your super cool cyber-agent implants when you left (to be fair, they paid for them) and now you’re really working the beat with what you have. You’ve got a cybernetic raven, though, so that counts for something! New mysteries are always popping up in Paris, and when folks need help, you want to be the person they go to. Can you solve crimes in a brand new age?

Contents

What’s New?

Chronicles of Crime: 2400 is actually pretty similar to Chronicles of Crime: Noir, just looking at it. It’s a bit more updated, but it leans into the idea of augments and occasionally punching or hacking your way through a problem rather than just asking folks questions all the time. You also have the advantage of your cybernetic Raven as your go-to for advice, rather than another character. As far as new content, there are another five new missions (counting the tutorial), and they all delve into the more cyberpunk-esque side of mystery solving: mysterious corporations, cybernetics, and the folks who get caught in the middle of macroeconomic warfare. It does lose the visions of 1400 and the puzzles of 1900, but it does so while bringing in a stronger thematic connection to the material as a whole, I’d say. Oh, also, your various hacking exploits and augments require energy, so you occasionally have to go recharge at home for an hour, which may mess with your strategies.

Player Count Differences

There aren’t a ton, just because of how the Chronicles of Crime series works structurally. You’re really playing the game as a single player by committee. The only major thing that changes is that, with more players, you can have more players take a look at the crime scene, which may help cover things that you miss (though, there’s an augment called the Sniffer which can also help with that). As the crimes get more complex, having more players means you might have a better shot of offsetting the cognitive load of the game, as well. Sometimes it’s just nice to have more players to keep track of things. That said, it can also lead to more debate about what to do next and slow the game down (since, again, by committee). It’s more likely that you’ll be playing this with your core Chronicles of Crime group, I suppose, so whatever size group you’re most comfortable with. It’d probably be fine with four, but I personally prefer it with two.

Strategy

  • I don’t think we used the Raven enough. This was, I think, our big mistake. To be fair, it’s never clear exactly what the Raven does or where it can be useful unless you get lucky with certain scans and certain character combinations. That all said, you can use the Raven in lieu of the entire original Chronicles of Crime team. It can scan, analyze, trace; all sorts of things! Make sure you’re making full use of the Raven. Though it mostly helps if you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do with a particular object or clue. The Raven can usually tell you where it came from or who it’s registered to.
  • If you get the Sniffer, bring it back to crime scenes you previously explored. The Sniffer does a fantastic job of surfacing things that you couldn’t ordinarily find! Tiny scraps of clothing, DNA, all sorts of things! It definitely makes any crime scene worth a revisit as soon as you get one. Just make sure you have enough energy to actually use it.
  • More generally, keep track of your augments; they can be really useful. You can get a bunch of cybernetic implants over the course of the scenarios. They can do all sort of things! Disguise you as other people, scan the crime scene, zap an android or two, or even pick up things about folks that you couldn’t necessarily gather with just the naked eye. Again, you’ll need energy for them, but they can definitely give you new ways to tackle the mystery.
  • If you’re not sure what to do next, try showing your clues to some characters. Characters know all sorts of things, and sometimes you might be able to jog their memories! They might tell you about a different related clue or tell you about a location that you haven’t been to. Maybe they even know a password or the identity of someone’s offline persona! It’s always worth exploring.
  • If you’re really looking to show yourself a bad time, try zapping someone. This isn’t exactly a great strategy, but it could be fun. Just zap someone with your zappy augment! Blast a robot, break a door, make a new friend, fry someone’s implants; whatever.
  • Keep track of your energy levels; you don’t want to have to meander all the way back to your place multiple times because you forgot to recharge. It’s a whole hour lost when you need to charge up, which can be pretty annoying. There’s a few things that you can avoid doing, like trying to go to a new place when you only have 20 charge left or leaving your apartment to jump into cyberspace. Think about your next steps so you have a plan to keep your energy where it needs to be! Sometimes you might want to recharge even before you’re down to 0 energy, just to make sure you have the stores up.
  • Watch what you say! You can really change things up if you make folks mad enough. Asking folks about certain things can really make them mad! They might leave or go somewhere else or become a bit adversarial if you frustrate them enough. Part of figuring out how to solve the mystery might come down to how easily you get other characters to work with you (or whether you break their stuff).

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • A refreshingly diverse cast of characters. This was something that I struggled with through the other various Chronicles of Crime games, and they seem to have significantly improved it since then. I’m really excited by the wide variety of characters in the game; it makes Paris feel engaging and alive and futuristic. There are characters in masks, characters with augments, all sorts of variety beyond that. I’m very happy about that.
  • I really enjoy that some of the challenges can be trying to match someone’s online and offline identities. Given that part of the game takes place in cyberspace and you’re dealing with sometimes-masked individuals, you don’t necessarily know everyone you’re talking to. Whether they’re the mysterious Faceless, Ariadne, or someone even more mysterious, I really liked trying to figure out which mysterious person I’ve talked to might be double-dealing and pretending to be someone else entirely online. It’s a lot of fun!
  • The art for this one is exceptional. So cool! I love the art for this game. The locations are just … exceptional. They’re cool, futuristic, and they cover the full gamut of a run-down wasteland to the bright industrial palaces of the megacorporations to the geometrically-engaging landscapes of cyberspace. And that’s just the locations! The characters are even more so! They all look like they have exciting histories and stories that we only just intersect with during our cases. Fantastic art direction for this game; no complaints.
  • I think having a cybernetic bird is fun. Just a neat thing. It’s a little melodramatic, granted, but having a fun bird companion is nice.
  • I really like the main character; she’s neat. Her story is a bit … trope-y, but that’s kind of the Chronicles of Crime way, sometimes. I don’t think it’s too bad. I particularly like her art style. I’m interested to see how things end up for her when I dive into the finale, Chronicles of Time.
  • The implants are an interesting way to present new challenges and allow players to solve them. They remind me a bit of Chronicles of Crime: Noir, but that’s mostly because I could punch things there and I can zap things here. There are even more ways to get new information with your implants that you couldn’t normally get otherwise. They’re kind of 2400’s answer to the visions and the puzzles from 1400 and 1900, respectively.
  • There were some fun tricks and turns in the plot; I enjoyed the missions! I think the last was my least favorite of the bunch, but the missions had some interesting plot directions that I didn’t expect! I particularly liked the larger, multipart mission. It was cool to have things come up that get answered later and see how the various elements of the game come together over multiple missions. You see a character and then they come back around later in a new way; sometimes you even figure out their true identity or their deeper secrets. It’s a lot of fun.

Mehs

  • The difficulty spike is pretty nontrivial. The game gets pretty tough! We weren’t expecting it. It’s a bit tough, as a player, since the three-part mission is actually the easier one, and the singleton mission is the significantly more difficult one. This kind of throws the player off-balance, I think. We certainly didn’t want to commit to a three-part mission that night, so we went for the singleton.
  • Not sure if it’s just the app or my phone, but the camera took a long time to focus on the cards. This one I’m wondering about, but it took an extremely long time to get the camera to focus on the cards. Longer than it had taken in the past, I guess? It might have just been particularly bad lighting or something, but I wasn’t entirely sure what happened.

Cons

  • You can get pretty literally stuck at times if you’re missing some critical information. One particular mission can actually lock you into a spot where you can’t progress and just have to try and guess the outcome? Not particularly ideal, but what can you do. It’s just frustrating when you have difficulty advancing in the game’s plot.
  • I think that the more Chronicles of Crime I play, the more aware I become of the conspicuous lack of a hint system, compared to other similar games. This part frustrates me a bit more every time I play, just because sometimes, as a player, my wires get crossed and I’m not entirely sure where to go. It would be ideal if there were some sort of actual hint system that I could use to figure out what to scan, where to go, or even what to do, from a scaffolded standpoint? There’s not one, which makes this a bit unique among the mystery and puzzle games that I play. I’m surprised by this? We can usually muddle it out, but I’d really like to see a more explicit hint system to make the game a bit more accessible for a wider variety of players.

Overall: 8.75 / 10

Overall, I think that Chronicles of Crime: 2400 is probably my favorite out of the Millennium Series! I really like it from a thematic standpoint, and I’m delighted to see that they’ve finally gone for a more diverse cast of characters. I was pretty bummed to not see that in 1400 or 1900, so, you know, glad that they’ve worked it out. Also, the more cyberpunk-esque theme and landscape really appeals to me! The art style, particularly, shines in this one. You’ve got weird ruined landscapes juxtaposed against sleek, perfect structures and some mind-boggling cyberscapes, all illustrated perfectly. It really is a great-looking game. Gameplay-wise, I was a bit disappointed to see that the puzzles from 1900 didn’t carry forward, but having some cybernetic implants was a fun way to give us a different way to engage with the story, as players, and it was interesting to have to navigate the challenge of determining the offline personas of the characters we’d meet in cyberspace. Having played many different Chronicles of Crime games, I’m increasingly struck by the lack of a useful hint system, however. You can quite literally get stuck if you’re not sure what to do next, and the only way to move forward can sometimes feel like just trying every combination of items and characters until someone gives you a new location or a new clue, which can be frustrating, especially since the game understands what items you’ve tracked and scanned. I get the idea of wanting to preserve the experience for the player, but most other mystery / puzzle / escape room games have some useful way to help stuck players progress, and the Chronicles of Crime series seems to eschew that, largely to its own detriment. This is particularly noticeable in the final story, which gets surprisingly difficult. That said, this has largely been true of the other games, as well; hopefully the next iteration of the series will take hints more seriously. I think, as I mentioned, the Millennium Series has been a cool concept for Chronicles of Crime to explore, and the designers have clearly enjoyed the ability to play in some spaces with visions and puzzles and a cool cybernetic bird. I do kind of wish these stories had more puzzle-solving to them, as they feel a bit like a point-and-click adventure, but the scanning aspect of the game is a nice way to blend the physical and the digital, just as 2400 strives to do for its main character. I had a lot of fun playing Chronicles of Crime: 2400, and if you’re looking for a cool set of cyberpunk mysteries to solve, you’re eagerly looking to complete the Millennium Series, or you just like the idea of a challenging adventure game that you can play with friends, you’ll probably enjoy it as well! I’d recommend it.


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