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Investigation Express

There's been a recent explosion in mystery solving games, fed mainly on the growing popularity of Escape Rooms. Antonin Boccara's design for Investigation Express has elements that are recognisably part of the murder mystery/escape room genre but successful deduction in this game depends not just on spotting the clues but also on good communication with the other players...

Investigation Express is a light, fully cooperative game for 2-6 players. It's a small box game from BLAM! that comes with three distinct standalone cases: Shock at Milton Circus (a circus mystery), Someone's Telling Tales (based around fairy tale characters) and Panic on Mount Olympus (where the suspects are all Greek gods). This means you'll get three games out of the box. The same players won't be able to replay cases because they'll know the solutions but this isn't a game where you'll be destroying any content so you can pass the game on to friends and family to see if they fare any better as sleuths.

For each case, there will be a scenario, a list of suspects and 24 colour-coded file cards. Each player chooses a colour of card that will be forbidden to them but they will have access to the other 20 file cards. Players have 5 minutes to look at the cards to which they have access, always placing cards face down after they look at them. Players aren't allowed to talk to each other during this 5 minute session, nor are they allowed to take any notes, so it helps if you've got a good memory. At the end of the 5 minutes, each player chooses just one file card which they think will be the most useful in solving the case (two cards apiece if there are just two players).

Players then reveal their chosen file cards, they open the previously unseen Investigation Leaflet for the case and go through and debate their individual deductions in order to come up with answers. This becomes an interesting collaborative exercise because all players have as individuals been reliant on imperfect information. Each case comes with two Clue Cards, which you can consult for free. You can also check on information in one of the face-down file cards but it costs you a penalty point to do so. You're likely to find you'll need to sacrifice a point or two in this way in order to arrive at the answers to all the questions. For each case, fully correct answers will earn you a perfect score of 20, but 15 or more should be considered a respectable score.

If you enjoy 'murder mystery' deduction games then Investigation Express is definitely one to check out. It's distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames.

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han gu
han gu
Jul 10

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