FREE copy of Photoshoot when you spend £50+ with code: FREEGAMEFRIDAY

Menu

A mystery box filled with miniatures to enhance your RPG campaigns. All official miniatures and for a bargain price!

Buy Miniatures Box »

Not sure what game to buy next? Buy a premium mystery box for two to four great games to add to your collection!

Buy Premium Box »
Subscribe Now »

If you’re only interested in receiving the newest games this is the box for you; guaranteeing only the latest games!

Buy New Releases Box »
Subscribe Now »

Looking for the best bang for your buck? Purchase a mega box to receive at least 4 great games. You won’t find value like this anywhere else!

Buy Mega Box »
Subscribe Now »

Buy 3, get 3% off - use code ZATU3·Buy 5, get 5% off - use code ZATU5

Buy The Game

Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Might work as first foray into deception games
  • A couple of interesting concepts
  • Component quality is fine

Might Not Like

  • Rulebook is incomplete and confusing
  • Time to play is unreasonably long
  • You’ll see everything in one playthrough
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Case File Truth And Deception Review

case file truth and deception

Defective Agency

Based on the hit podcast of the same name, this seedy, self-branded “strategy game” Case File Truth and Deception (it is certainly not, your first clue that this was developed by people who fundamentally don’t understand the concepts they’re working with right out of the gate) sees players take on the role of detectives attempting to solve a murder mystery, exchanging evidence in shady deals and pulling the wool over their rivals’ eyes, bribing and lying to one another in equal measure to uncover the truth. If that sounds exciting, you’ll quickly pick up a lead which disproves that theory.

But first, let’s look at how you’ll carry out your investigation, because it’s about as easy to undertake as a genuine homicide case. The various decks of motives, murder weapons, suspects and locations are shuffled separately, and one card from each is dealt blind into the eponymous Case File, a simple component which is ironically the best thing about the game, a little mock manila folder in powder purple. This stays off to the side, while the remaining cards are all shuffled together to form one deck. Each player is given their investigation board (where they will tick off items of interest as they narrow down the evidence) and draws five cards. These also include various ability cards, which can be played to steal cards from opponents’ hands, have all players pass their hand to the player on their left, or just act as blank false evidence.

Gameplay takes the form of ‘bidding’, which is game-speak for asking the other players if they have three certain cards in their hands, say, the coffee shop, the knife, and the mechanic. Regardless of whether or not they really do hold these cards, they can say… a number. Yep, you read right. Every card has a printed value from one to three, and you can say the total of the numbers on the cards you wish to offer up for auction. The player who asked for the cards can then choose to take up your offer or not, but must be aware that they could be handed evidence they’ve already eliminated, or red herrings. This continues until one player feels like they’ve narrowed down the possibilities enough to take a stab - sorry, poor choice of words - at the solution. But if you get even one of the four components wrong, you’ll be irreversibly eliminated from the round (which may be more desirable than you’d think; more on this later).

Incoherent Until Proven Guilty

The first thing you do when sitting down to play a new tabletop game, perhaps after briefly examining the components, is read the rulebook. When that rulebook is complicated, or long, it can be a bit of a chore to learn the game and teach everyone else. Some more expansive titles even require multiple ‘practice’ or ‘open-hand’ sessions to parse everything. But when a rulebook is incomprehensible and flat out omits rules altogether, it’s more than a slog; it’s unforgivable. Case (ha!) in point: Case File, a game entirely revolving around bluffing and hidden information, does not tell you if you discard cards face down or face up, and such a blunder is beyond belief.

Gameplay Most Foul

I did go through an odd, out-of-body moment amid the mind-numbing experience that was Case File, when I half-wondered if, peeking through, like a prisoner through cell bars, was some semblance of a meaningful decision. Should I play my ability cards to give myself an edge, thereby revealing that card, or lie to my rivals but risk losing that card to one of their wildcards on their turn? Later, I have the evidence they’ve just asked about, but I drew it last round so no one else has seen it; should I hold off revealing that I have it, or will the other players do the same, allowing the active player to draw a card for free and gain an edge anyway?

However (and this is why I detest hidden information and traitor mechanics in games), you quickly realise that when presented the opportunity the average player will consistently lie to you or screw you over, even if it sets back everyone - including them - in the process. It became incredibly painful when one drunken reveller kept pleading innocent to holding certain cards, laughing hysterically, when there was no personal benefit to them refraining from bidding other than… it was amusing, maybe? If that’s all I wanted from my tabletop games, I’d just watch sitcoms instead. When it comes down to it, I’d gain exponentially more from listening to the actual podcast than I would playing the game based on it, too.

There’s just no reason to attempt a repeat play of this one. It will play out no differently to any other time, besides the order of the cards. But one becomes painfully aware that there’s no actual player decisions here. The final solution is dealt randomly. The cards you call out are ones you haven’t seen. The cards you draw are from a shuffled deck. Whether your opponents are lying or not is impossible to crack. Suddenly, it hits you as if Colonel Mustard’s just clocked you over the head with a candlestick in the library: this is just a glorified game of Happy Families with a decidedly derivative lick of paint. When you’re playing a game that’s entirely chance, you might as well all be rolling dice to see who throws a six first. Mercifully, that would at least be over sooner.

Serial Filler

I’m guilty, I’ll admit it: my time with Case File ended when I was driven to hazard a guess at the solution (which I only got wrong by one piece of the puzzle) just so I could be out of the game. I’ve played the requisite rounds of Monopoly which have dragged to the point of family blowouts and beyond. I once played a game of chess with my partner - the first time either of us had played since childhood - which devolved to two kings chasing one another round the board. But I’ve got to say that Case File is the first time in living memory I’ve ever intentionally thrown a match just to stop playing. It took us what felt like hours.

For such grizzly subject matter, you’d think the game would be at least a little gripping, but I found it impossible to care whether the tattoo artist did it in the cemetery with a tire iron. I wasn’t expecting the next greatest thriller since the likes of Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, but my expectations were not six feet under, either. As mentioned, I’ve played some undesirable titles in my time. But even Monopoly, for all its faults and infamy as the definitive anti-board game, has clear rules. When it comes to Case File, however, I’m sorry to say there’s barely a shred of evidence to suggest this is a worthy addition to your collection; doing so would be (drumroll, please) a true crime.

That concludes our thoughts on Case File Truth and Deception. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Case File Truth and Deception today click here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Might work as first foray into deception games
  • A couple of interesting concepts
  • Component quality is fine

Might not like

  • Rulebook is incomplete and confusing
  • Time to play is unreasonably long
  • Youll see everything in one playthrough

Zatu Blog

Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Join us today to receive exclusive discounts, get your hands on all the new releases and much more!