MicroMacro Crime City is a brand new cooperative murder mystery style board game from publishers Edition Spielwiese and Pegasus Spiele. Designed by Johannes Sich, featuring artwork from Daniel Goll and Tobias Jochinke, the game sees 1 – 4 players solving cases, often after someone has been found dead in Crime City. With some Where’s Wally (Waldo) vibes players will solve the cases across the large city map. However, will everyone be racing to visit Crime City? Let’s find out!
Each case sees the huge 75 x 110 cm city map unfolded onto the table, with an envelope with case specific cards selected. Cases not only range in length, the smallest being 5 cards and the longest 11 cards, they also range in difficulty – with a star rating to help players choose between the 16 possible cases. With a case selected, one player must be designated the lead investigator – who takes charge of the case cards.
Flipping over the top case card the lead investigator reads aloud any text. The next card gives the team of players an instruction of what they must find on the map. To not give anything of the main cases away, in the tutorial case the first objective is to locate the pub. The majority of these come with at least some sort of a suggestion of a rough location to look – even if that is just “North East”.
When players are happy they have located the place, person or discovered a reasoning behind something, the lead investigator flips the card over, and consults it privately. If the team is correct, with grid coordinates or information matching the team’s guess, the team moves onto the next card in the case. If a team is incorrect the lead investigator reveals it was wrong but gives the remaining team members another chance, though they themselves are unable to help due to knowing the answer. The aim of each case is to get to the bottom of what has gone on and this is achieved by working through all of the case cards correctly. No scoring occurs and no points are earnt, with the team being successful together at the end of the case.
Not every case in the box lasts long, with some being no more than 10 minutes, especially the first 4 – 5 cases. When the cases start to increase from being based on 5 cards, the play time also goes up. Having that first introductory case being short and sweet makes perfect sense, allowing the game to hit the table quickly and be learnt while playing. After this the shorter nature of some cases just drives players to instantly play the next case. This was certainly the case for us, playing the first 8 out of 16 cases in a single sitting.
The experience is akin to Where’s Wally (Where’s Waldo) but it has that something extra. That something is the story and view into the lives of the people of Crime City – however fleeting their life pans out to be. By having snapshots of time rather than just a single snapshot, players can follow the crimes and those involved. They can also follow others just wandering around, tasting things at the market or riding the subway. Some of these might be involved in later cases but a lot of the time they won’t be, and are there to make the slightly horrific city more lifelike.
Crime City, as the name suggests, isn’t the nicest place to live. With the amount of dead bodies, various murder methods, someone being flashed in a park and the dodgy looking deals going on, it probably isn’t somewhere people would want to live. Nor is it a family friendly experience that everyone would be happy with others seeing. The age rating on the box is 12+, which is probably okay given the cartoon style. Bear it in mind though that what could be a family friendly style game isn’t in theme.
MicroMacro Crime City will surely reignite the discussion of something being a game or “just” an experience. There aren’t points to be gained, nor a timer to beat, and this does push it towards being an experience. To tip the balance, to make it in line with an escape room style game, there could have been hints or a time to beat, combining into a score. This could have allowed players to see how well they did. Instead, players can set out to simply enjoy the experience in their own time. Plus, players are unlikely to want to replay the cases to beat their own scores – given the puzzle of finding specific things would be largely gone a second time around.
Sold as a game for 1 – 4 players, it is hard to see MicroMacro Crime City keeping 4 players fully engaged at once, nor equally participating. For the most part cases do one card at a time, though not always. With 2 players this is fine as you can work together. 3 would then be a little bit of a stretch, with the players having to make a concerted effort to keep everyone evenly involved. Part of this stems from the map, as despite its size it would be hard to have 4 people on one side of the table to look at the map the right way up. Some might be okay with looking at the scenes upside down but it wouldn’t be the perfect way to play.
Burning through half the cases in single sitting does bring value for money into question, though for the amount of time played MicroMacro Crime City is in line with escape room style board games. It also shows the amount we wanted to keep on playing and solving cases, we were certainly hooked from the offing. The stories in the cases of MicroMacro Crime City can be interesting to uncover, despite all being quite shallow. Players can follow people around the map, as they wander the city before or after a key event, and yet the reasons behind events can be highly predictable. Still, they bring Crime City to life and make you want to follow them. As with escape room style games MicroMacro Crime City isn’t really a game to be replayed but it is easy to recommend to play and hopefully there will be a sequel in the future!
(Editor’s Note: MicroMacro Crime City was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)