Updated: Apr 19
Title notwithstanding, Portal Games' Batman: Everybody Lies isn't exactly a Batman game. It’s set in Gotham City in the Batman universe but none of the 1-4 players will be taking on the role of the Caped Crusader; indeed, part of the central premise of this game is that Batman is otherwise engaged, which is why you’ve been asked by Police Commissioner Gordon to help investigate some of the city’s unsolved crimes.
This is a deduction and investigation game designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek and Weronika Spyra. It comprises four cases (three successive cases plus a tutorial-style ‘prologue’) that players will be working together to investigate and solve, and we’re doing our best to show it off here on Board’s Eye View without giving away any Spoilers.
In Batman: Everybody Lies, players each take on one of four distinct roles: reporter Vicki Vale, grizzled police detective Harvey Bullock, journalist Warren Spacey or Catwoman. It’s a fully cooperative game, so players will be working together to follow up the leads on the cards and in the free web-based app that is used in the game, but players will also have their own personal objectives which they’ll mostly be expected to keep to themselves. These aren’t objectives that run counter to the case on which you are working together – this isn’t a game with a traitor mechanic. Think of the objectives first and foremost as aids to players to help put them into role as the character whose part they are playing. There’s an added incentive tho’ for achieving personal objectives in addition to solving the case as these will boost the players’ collective score which is otherwise governed by the ‘time’ (actions tracker) taken to solve the case.
Batman: Everybody Lies follows on from Portal Games’ Detective: Modern Crime series of board games and it’s a particularly effective fit; notably more so than Dune: House Secrets, which Portal published in 2021. The game is immersive and sustains the theme, and it’s helped along the way through the comic book art of Hannah Kuik and Maciej Siminski. The mix of cards and app works smoothly and we appreciated the prompts on the tracker that encourage players collectively to discuss and review the evidence they’ve collected.
All in all, Batman: Everybody Lies is a strong addition to the Detective: Modern Crime series. It’s playable solo but much better with two or more players in role, sharing, discussing and collectively solving the cases. As with most similar deduction games tho’ (for example, the Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective series from Space Cowboys), Batman: Everybody Lies is a very finite experience: you’ll get a lot of enjoyment working through the unfolding story of each of the four cases, but when you’re done there’s very little replay value. That said though, it’s easy enough to reset the game to pass on so that a fresh set of investigators can try their hand.