Dale Yu: Review of Murder Party Pocket: Deadly Sin  

Murder Party Pocket: Deadly Sin

  • Designers: Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli
  • Story by Maurizio de Giovanni
  • Publisher: Cranio Creations
  • Players: 1-6
  • Age: 12+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

Naples, 1932. One person was killed, and each of you is one of the 6 suspects. The case was entrusted to Commissioner Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi of the Royal Police Headquarters of Naples, supported as usual by the faithful sergeant Raffaele Maione. The murderer may be hiding among you, and it is up to you to help the Commissioner find out who is. Will you be able to do this before the time is over?

At the beginning of the game, each player will be assigned, through a Character card, the role of one of the suspects that they will have to play. Players will have to reflect, collaborate, share the information in their possession without compromising themselves too much, and try to understand what, beyond appearances, really happened. When all the clues will be revealed the players together have to give the solution. 

Will they be able to discover the real culprit or will the murder remain unsolved? Or worse still, will they let an innocent be wrongfully accused?
Murder Party Pocket is a game of crime investigation, mixing a card game, a role-playing game, and an app that guides in the game and dictates the timing and methods of the investigation.  All the investigative cases are written by well-known crime writers. 

— from the publisher

From the box: Murder Party Pocket is a unique and innovative game experience.  Commissario Ricciardi, born from the brilliant pen of Maurizio de Giovanni, investigates a mysterious crime, but this time you are the suspects!  As in a murder party game, you will have to take on the role of the characters of this thriller and discover the truth. Don’t trust anyone though! The real killer may be hiding among you!

This slim box contains only 26 cards – four cards each for the 6 characters in the game, and then 2 more cards; one that helps you with set up and one with information on the victim of the crime.  One of them has a QR code which will help you download the phone App which will help you play the game.  You must have the app – as there are no rules in the box – so the only way to know what to do is to use the app!

There are two modes for the game, a detective mode if you have 1-2 players and a murder mystery party mode if you have 3-6.  The app has a nice voiceover that reads the text on the screen to you.

In the detective mode, the murderer is never part of the game; instead the investigator(s) will work together to try to solve the crime.  The bulk of the game is played the same as the party mode.

In the party mode, each suspect has an informational card and then 3 clue cards that are associated with that character.  The clue cards will be revealed over the course of the game (the app will tell you) – some will be common knowledge and found on the table, while others are private, only known by the person who is holding them in their hand.

When the game starts, there is a fairly lengthy prologue – which can be read – but again is nicely narrated by the app.  If you get lost with all the text, the app has a built in notebook that will list all of the important clues that are known to that point.

Through the course of the game, you will have to analyze all the clues at your disposal, carefully read all the text and examine all the artwork that you can – in addition, you will be able to discuss with the other players in game.  Of course, you may want to watch out what you share with others as you might have information that they don’t and/or you don’t know who the murderer is!  

After the clues are revealed and character identities are discovered; there is time for discussion- and the app will time it for you.  There are three rounds of this.  Each stage has a fairly lengthy bit of story that you will use to garner more information.  Listen/read closely!

At the end of the game, all of the Clues will be revealed and then the group must agree on a solution.  The murderer might be present as well, and if so, they are trying to divert the investigation so that they can get away cleanly.   You will answer some questions in the app as a group and then the app will explain how the story really ended and then grade the results of your answers.

When I first heard about these, I didn’t realize that it was going to use a phone app; and while I normally don’t like games with apps, this one works really well.  The voice acting is great and the background music really helps set the scene.  The instructions found on the phone screen are easy to follow, and again, the app is truly necessary to navigate and enjoy this game.

In a way, the game is like interactive fiction. You have parts where you learn the story as it is read to you, and then you have physical props to give you more information.  In the discussion interludes, you get a chance to role play a bit, trade information and have time to examine the evidence.  Then, at the end, you get to see if all your investigations were correct.  

Our play took just over an hour, though the time of the game should be pretty fixed as the scenes being read out loud to you are done by the phone, and the timing of the discussion periods are also set.  Overall, it is a very thematic and engrossing experience, and this is what I expected given that stories themselves are written by well known authors.  The Commisario Riccardi series is quite popular, and there are a total of 10 novels in the English translation of this series: https://amzn.to/3s8Gp7y

though like most of these mystery games, only able to be enjoyed once as the case never changes.  Once you know who did it, it’s impossible to play again.  But, as nothing is destroyed in the game, you can pack everything back up and then share the game with someone else and let them experience it as well.

Depending on your group’s tolerance for listening to a short audiobook; this might be a nice addition to a game night for a change of pace.  Given the way that the story unfolds on a small phone screen, it is also an excellent pastime for one or two detectives.  The whole thing comes in a very small box, and I’m actually saving the second adventure that I have for my flight to Essen in a few weeks.  It’s the perfect size for a tray table (or I can hold everything in my hand), and I look forward to an exciting solo investigation as I fly over the Atlantic.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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