The detective game series got a new offshoot with Batman: Everybody Lies. The games were published by Portal Games and are distributed in Germany by Pegasus Spiele in the localized version. Batman - Everybody Lies sticks to what you'd expect from the detective franchise, but captures the atmosphere surrounding the popular comic book hero pretty well. 

If you don't know the Detective series yet, you'll find it here is a review of the first detective game and here for the detective game in the Dune universe. Now a new release is about the bat. 

Everbody read in the Batman universe

Batman: Everybody Lies is set, as the name suggests, in the Batman universe. Recruited by Jim Gordon, you must solve cases that the GCPD cannot handle. You take on the roles of Harvey Bullock, Vicki Vale, Warren Spacey or Catwoman - here's a bit of a disappointment, because nobody can play Batman. However, this step is also understandable because otherwise there would probably be a lot of discussion at the beginning about who is allowed to play Batman. Also, Batman: Everybody Lies is a cooperative game, and let's be honest, Batman has his problems with group work.

What do you get?
  • 85 Trace cards: These can be clues or general information in the game.
  • 31 scene cards: Nice element to make the story more tangible. Again and again you can uncover scene cards and get a picture of the scene.
  • 27 personal goals: You play in a team, but you also have your own goals that you can pursue.
  • 16 Intros: Introductions to the respective chapters. (come in envelope)
  • 1 game board: Gotham City with the important locations and the timeline that determines how many points you get at the end of the game.
  • 8 Place Signs: These are placed on the game board. This way you can see where you have been and which locations are currently available to you.
  • 4 character boards: about the playable characters, including information about the ability
  • various markers and tiles: 3 access, 10 evidence, 4 character tiles, 1 location and 1 investigation marker)
  • Gotham City Map: Overview of Gotham City including locations featured in the stories. Mainly for orientation.

There are four chapters you can play in total, the first of which is played as a prologue and is shorter and easier than the later chapters. It is therefore great to be played as a tutorial or introduction.
The playing time is given as 120-180 minutes - so be prepared for a little longer detective work. The game can be played by 2-4 people, but you can also play it alone without any problems. Then you simply take on the role of several characters. However, you then have to play the secret goals openly (which is not necessarily a disadvantage – more on that later).

How is the game going?

Open the secret envelope and read it out loud. Each cover contains one or more intros to the game and describes the case. You'll learn what happened, what your main objective is, if there are any rule changes, etc. You'll also get suggestions on where to go next to start the investigation. If necessary, make notes here so that you don't have to read everything again later. It is generally a good idea for someone to take notes during the game. Even if you can look at all maps and information again at any time.

Everybody Read Batman Board Game Review

Structure for the first case: Envelope with the number 00, game board with available locations (unavailable locations are within reach), prologue cards, personal objective cards, scene cards, markers and tiles and character sheets with markers. Photo: Nissel

If you want to follow a trail, you select the corresponding card from the trail card deck. Depending on where the trail is, you need to show your movement on the game board. But be careful, not all locations are available to you at the beginning - some you have to unlock first. For example, the town hall or the city center costs nothing, for places like the underground or the bat cave you need certain tokens.

Since you play as a team, all tokens belong to you and you have to decide together what your next step is and whether you want to spend the tokens. Your supply is of course also limited, so you should plan your steps well.

Whenever you visit a (new) location, you must move the investigation marker on the game board. There are a total of 16 fields in 4 different colors. 0-8 in blue, 9 and 10 in green (highest score), 11-13 in yellow (middle score), and 14-16 in red (lowest score). The quicker you can solve a case, the better. Each of the three point areas has a box that says "Summary." As soon as your marker reaches this space, you recapitulate all the information you have been able to gather up to this point. You can also use this time to discuss your next steps, because now is the phase in which your score is decided. You can choose to complete the chapter at any time. To do this, select the appropriate entry on the website and answer the final questions. 

Personal goals

While the game can be played cooperatively, each person has personal goals to pursue. Whether you have fulfilled the personal goals is asked at the end of the chapter - via the website, similar to the general task of the chapter. 

You can keep your personal goals secret, but you can also disclose them and see them as part of the overall task. How you play it is up to you; depending on whether you want to play purely cooperatively or want to have your own goals. Personally, I liked playing better with open personal goals. This keeps the feeling of a joint investigative team. 

Batman – Everybody read: pros and cons?

If you are familiar with the detective games, you probably already know: During the game you call up a website where you can examine further clues. When you get such a digital hint, the game tells you on the cards. To do this, simply enter the code on the page and the hint will open, which you can examine. As a result, the clues can be significantly more varied than with purely physical material. This also works without any problems. However, there is no indication on the pack. However, it must be noted that the hurdle here is significantly lower compared to a required app. Nevertheless, a corresponding note would have been nice, since there are also people who want to play games without digital technology.

Personal goals add new elements and goals for each person, but tend to be distracting. In a cooperative game I don't need such an element - instead (as the rules allow) I would play with open-ended goals and see them as a general quest. But that is of course a matter of taste.

The movement markers seem a bit superfluous. Since you only move on the timeline when you draw a new card (and not when you move), the movement marker seems a bit superfluous. While it's nice to see where you are, it makes no difference to the game. It confused me at the beginning because I thought that every movement also costs a unit of time. Likewise the special access tiles. For example, to visit the Batcave, you need a Batman marker. You get it as soon as Catwoman is in play and you exchange two clue tokens for one Batman token. But then the marker is immediately removed from the game. A bit much swapping for a simple move.

Batman Everybody read test board game

The envelopes - quite mysterious... Photo: Nissel

Now let's move on to aspects that the game does well. You start with secret envelopes and get the first information and the game a certain depth. Is there a cooler start to investigative work than getting the information out of an envelope? I do not think so. Everyone knows scenes like this from movies and just the fact that the envelopes are sealed at the beginning adds a nice element.

You get very varied information. You read cards, get scene cards (showing the scene in the comic strip) and can look at other clues on your laptop/tablet etc. This makes the game more varied than if you only get information from cards.

The setting is nice: you meet well-known personalities from the Batman universe, get a good story overall (the maps are described in detail) and experience the Batman flair. This is well rounded off by the simple but beautiful gameplay. Especially the scene cards mentioned bring a nice depth of play into the game.

The solution as a real finale

In some puzzle games you eventually come across the solution and can continue playing. That is not the case here. You collect information and you have to decide for yourself when you think you know enough. You have to derive your solution yourself and end the chapter on your own. When you think you have the solution, you select that on the website and have to answer a few questions. Only then will you know if you were right or wrong. I really liked the principle of investigative work.

Now a few aspects that are neither good nor bad, but you should know: Even if you let the game heal completely, there is little incentive to play the game again. While you can be tempted to explore maps and locations you haven't explored while playing, you already know the solution so there's no excitement. You can lend the game to friends or give it away without any problems.

At first I found the rules a bit unclear. It wasn't until I played the prologue that some of the rules became completely clear to me: For example, I didn't immediately realize that I didn't have to unlock new locations separately, but could buy them at any time with the appropriate tokens. The prologue is very useful there, and you know that from other games too, that you have to play it to internalize the rules.

I've already hinted at it a bit, but due to the time pressure (score categories according to the schedule) you're put under pressure and can't delve that deeply into the story or follow all the clues. The depth of the game is therefore artificially limited and you have to decide which leads you want to follow. Especially since the setting is so beautifully designed, you actually want to follow all the clues.

INFO BOX

Number of players: 2 to 4
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 120 to 180 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: low
Genre: crime game
Core mechanics: puzzles, logic, deduction

Author: Weronika Spyra, Ignacy Trzewiczek
Illustrators: Hanna Kuik, Maciej Simiński
Publisher: Portal Games, Pegasus Games
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Language: German
Cost: 45 Euro

Summary

Overall, Batman: Everybody Lies was convincing - at a very good level. The game manages that players can empathize well with the story and are presented with a nice detective experience. This is mainly due to the well implemented cards, which bring you closer and closer to solving the case. But the scene cards and the use of the website also create a nice feeling.

It's a pity that you don't have the time to collect all sorts of information, since you're under time pressure. This keeps some cards hidden from you. To what extent it is worth playing the game again for the other maps, I would rather doubt, since you know the solutions of the respective chapters after playing. Nevertheless, the game offers enough game depth for interesting hours of investigation. I also really liked the theme – although I'm also a Batman fan. Batman knowledge doesn't give you any advantage in this game, but you already know some places and characters and get deeper into the feeling.

It's a shame nobody can play Batman, but for the reasons already mentioned, that's understandable. Anyone who likes investigative work and is not deterred by the length of the game will probably like this game. 

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Last updated on 3.08.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API