A PvP strategy mystery simulator that includes the basics of board games.
When it comes to games, I tend to focus on single player titles. However, I recognise that there are certain PvP-oriented games (not too many, I must say) that I consider are worth trying. In this particular case, Crimesight allows me to explore and get a new perspective on the Sherlock Holmes saga. I tested it and played some online games to tell you about it. Quoting the famous detective: “The game is afoot!”
In Crimesight we travel to the future city of London. We play the role of Sherlock, an advanced AI machine that prevents crimes from happening (similar to the Precog in Minority Report). Just like the detective from Baker Street, we have to deal with a series of crimes planned and executed by another AI, the powerful and evil Moriarty (the detective’s nemesis in Conan Doyle’s books). Playing as Sherlock or Moriarty, we will have to face virtual crime simulations to unmask our rival and fulfil our objective, whatever it takes.
In our first approach, the structure of Crimesight seemed pretty much like certain current board games. Years ago, I used to play games of Bang! or Arkham Horror, so I have noticed that some of the details and systems may have transcended this title: the scenario design reminds you of classic Cluedo, but there are also features of modern board games like Zombies! or Arkham Horror, including life bars, items for your characters, and the role of the “traitor” (who can either help one team or the other, but it always serves his own purpose). All these details add depth to the development of the games.
We strongly recommend playing the tutorial when you begin, as it is quite useful to learn the basics of each game style. However, where you really learn the tactics and strategies is competing against other players online. There are plenty of scenarios to play. They simulate houses with a variable number of rooms depending on the amount of players, and there are also turn limits. In each turn, every player can give orders (movement, pick up an item or interact with other players) to two characters. Currently, the most common matches are 1v1 and 4 players (2 on Sherlock’s team, 1 in Moriarty’s and 1 in Irene’s, the rebel AI who serves her own purpose and can only move one character per turn).
Each AI or team proposes a different game. Sherlock represents the “good” side, and he can control every single character, and his goal is either to prevent Moriarty from murdering one of them or to hold out until the end of the turn limit. Moriarty is the “evil” side, and he can control every character except the victim. However, if Sherlock and his nemesis give orders to the same character in the same turn, Moriarty’s order will prevail. This is important for both of them, as the main strategy is to hide your team and your intentions until you are ready to accomplish your mission.
Besides, watching the movement of the characters controlled by the players is only the beginning. Each one of them must find and pick up hidden items throughout the scenario that will help them serve their purpose (for example, food to avoid losing distance of movement or the weapon to commit the murder). There are also random condition modifiers that can be activated if you get a specific item, so you can blind a whole room with a gas can or turn off the lights of the whole house. There are other random elements that can occur (or not), such as a dog that sneaks through the window and will attack whoever he sees.
Crimesight is not like other PvP games such as Among Us, where everything is light and simple. This is a turn-based game where being thoughtful and patient are your two most important resources. No one knows the other players’ team, not even those in the Sherlock team in games of 4 players. Therefore, expressing yourself via emoticons or other simple actions can be used to communicate (or mislead) both your teammate and the opponent. What you do and say is very important. If you are cautious and smart you will feel like you are solving a real Sherlock Holmes case. The strategic mental battle against other players feels pretty much balanced. I have won and lost games on all sides and it always felt like the result could change in the blink of an eye.
Perhaps the problem is that this more slow game style has not attracted a solid base of players yet. Although it has been out on Steam for a couple of weeks, the days I dedicated to playing the game for this review there was a peak of 25 simultaneous players. This is a really poor number, given that there is only one online mode. I have spent more hours in the queue waiting for a game than actually playing. But I’m sure this is more due to a lack of knowledge of the title rather than to the quality of the game.
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Maybe adding an offline mode vs. the AI (the real one) could improve the gaming experience while waiting for more people to try it out. In any case, Crimesight is really fun, especially if you convince your friends to play and try it out together.