- Designer: Pak Gallego
- Publisher: GDM Games
- Players: 2-6
- Age: 10+
- Time: 60 minutes on the box, our game took 25 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by GDM.
Instacrime is a cooperative game where players work together to try to piece together the mystery at hand using only a set of photographs. The game apparently comes in both a Spanish and English version (luckily, the background color of the envelope/box is different, so it’s easy to tell them apart!). We were given a Spanish version from the publisher; but I finally got a chance in 2020 to use my college Spanish classes, and we were able to get into the game without much consultation with translate.google.com…. In any event, the photos are fairly language independent, but the solution page is fairly text heavy -so be sure that you’re getting a version in a language that you’re able to read!
As the story goes –
Dorothy Munford, the owner of the publishing emporium named after herself, organizes the annual family reunion in the hotel that’s been hosting it for years and that has earned her trust. Her daughter, her son and his wife, her new boyfriend, and her first husband attend the meeting. Mrs. Munford wants to use the gathering to meet her lawyer and change her will. The young man brings the documents that both Dorothy and her right hand at the company must sign; the latter, as a witness.
Something awful has happened, and you and your teammates only have twelve snapshots, a roster of the people in the hotel that night and a few other clues to try to put the whole story together.
To play – deal a card out to each player (or groups of players) – and each tries to describe what they see in the picture. Though you will have more time later to discuss, we found it useful to already try to come up with theories behind the actions seen in the pictures. You can keep the face down stack of photos in the original order, which mirrors the timeline of the night; or for more challenge, you can deal out the photos in a random order.
After everyone has described their photos and had a chance to discuss; deal out another round of pictures. Continue doing this until they have all been dealt out. We played with three players, so this took four rounds. Once all of the pictures have been seen, the group now needs to work out the story. Try to figure out the victim, the villain, the weapon, the motive, etc.
It was unclear to us whether we could share the photos in this discussion, but we decided to go ahead an do it. We laid out all the photos on the table and then had a good time arranging them to try to uncover the bits of the story. It was surprising what details were picked up by other people than the original desciber – and it helped us come to the conclusions.
When you think that you’ve solved the case, open up the sealed answer sheet and see how close you came to the real story. And now you’re done with the first case!
My thoughts on the game
To start – I’m not sure that this fits the definition of a “game” on Boardgamegeek – but it has a listing there, so I guess it is a game! To me, it’s more of a story telling activity. We certainly had a good time trying to re-create the story shown on the photos, but there’s not really a scoring system or anything at the end; you just see how close you came to the “truth”.
The game is probably very group dependent. For those folks who like to roleplay, tell stories, have vivid imaginations, etc – this game is going to be right up your alley. The photos are both detailed and vague at the same time (you’ll have to see them yourself to know what I mean) – and there are plenty of clues to be found, and plenty of connections that you’ll have to make on your own.
We enjoyed the challenge of trying to figure out which photos happened in which order, though we had a tougher time with the story postulation. Again, I think this was just a factor of the particular group that we played with.
MILD SPOILER IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH – TO SKIP, SCROLL QUICKLY DOWN UNTIL YOU PASS BOTH AUSTRALIAN CHRISTMAS TREES!
Hey – if you’re trying to sneak a peek, I’m stalling a bit here at the start of the paragraph so that you don’t accidentally read the mini-spoiler. Really, you should be ashamed of yourself. I told you not to read this part, and yet, you tried…. Well, if you’re still reading here, I guess you really want to know that the story really isn’t easy to reconstruct (at least in my humble opinion). After playing the game and doing research to write this review, I found that the website for the game includes a video trailer. I would not recommend watching it prior to playing – as I think it has a fair number of spoilers – but it might be useful to watch if your team gets stuck trying to decipher the story. https://youtu.be/f6SUlgKFGzI is the link. If you need some help, you might get a few extra visual clues from the video as that media allows for slightly more informational transfer than a still photograph. Now I’m just trying to make the paragraph a little bit longer here so that people who are scrolling by trying to avoid reading this will have more text to not read and maybe they’ll think that they’re really missing out on some earth shattering news. But I’m not going to tell you anything else that will help you solve the mystery, but instead I’ll end this bit by singing you a song. She’s got her ear to the walls and she’s tappin’ the calls, If you’ve got a secret boy, forget about it, ’cause she’s a Hotel Detective… Why don’t you check her out? Well the bellhop is funky, The dumbwaiter’s a monkey, If there’s a knock at the door, boy, forget about it, ’cause she’s a Hotel Detective! Come on and check her out. You could listen to the song here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkVHvD-IMbg
OK spoiler time over
The art direction is interesting. The costumes on the actors are quite vivid (and I really like the lampshade hat on the matriarch), but I will admit that some of the photos had a weird composition. I don’t know if they were supposed to be conveying information in their positioning and perceived body language, but man, I felt like a lot of the pictures were similar to the classic U2 album covers with each person in the frame looking in a different direction, gazing in the distance. For me, it was hard to come up with a story that jived with the composition of the photo. The hotel or building shown in the photos is gorgeous. I have actually wondered if this is a real hotel, and I’d be interested in seeing it in real life! Well, that is assuming that I’m ever allowed to enter the EU again….
I feel like the puzzle/mystery game genre has exploded this year; not sure if this is due to the pandemic directly or not – and this is an interesting twist on things. There are not traditional puzzles to solve here, just the recreation of the story. It won’t be for everyone, but even if it’s not, it’s a diverting way to spend some time with families or friends. The box says that this is “Case #1” so I would suspect that there will be future editions with new mysteries to piece back together. As you would suspect, the game really cannot be played again because once you know the truth of that evening, there is no challenge trying to recreate it on a later visit. Thus, if you like this style of game, you’ll have to wait for the next case before you can do it again!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor