Last Message developed by iello is a party deduction game. Ranging from 3-8 players, you will be drawing, thwarting, and trying to deduce the criminal. For those Where’s Wally and MicroMacro fans this one will have elements you’ll be familiar with.
Preparing The Crime
To start, players will need to decide which board they would like to use for the round. There are 6 different scenes to pick from. Once chosen, players will decide their roles. One person will need to be the criminal, another the victim and everyone else will be detectives. Then the criminal will choose a character from one of the scenes and the victim will have 30 seconds to draw or write as many clues as possible in the 3x3 grid.
After the timer stops, the criminal will rub out 5 of the clues! The detectives will then have to try and deduce which character the criminal has chosen. This is repeated over 4 rounds. Each round the criminal will rub off one less clue and the detectives get to keep previous clue boards. If the detectives haven’t guessed the criminal's character by the end, they lose the game!
On The Run
Even though the game asks one player to be the criminal and another a victim, it is a very loose theme. The idea is the character the criminal chooses has killed the victim and the victim is now leaving messages from the other side. But as I said the theme is loose. This is a game about finding a character based on picture clues. It means you can scrap the murder theme when playing with younger audiences.
To make things harder, the victim cannot draw or write the same thing in each box. This will stop them from being able to point to the exact character. Because of this it is best to try and draw and write as many different clues as possible across all 9 tiles. However, the victim can repeat clues over the rounds. So, if your great diamond clue was erased in round 1 you can give it another go in round 2.
When it comes to hidden object games it can be hard to locate clues on a small board, especially if 5 of you are looking. Last Message has this covered as the detective board is blown up and split into 4 segments. This means detectives can pick up each quadrant for a closer inspection. If you have 4 detectives, it also means you can split up the board evenly to make the manhunting more efficient.
As each game only takes around 15 minutes, depending on detective deliberation, you can play this multiple times and each player can have a go in each unique role.
Catch Me If You Can
After a few rounds of Last Message, you might be finding it a bit easy. To be honest, unless you are an awful drawer or bad at clues it's hard for detectives to lose. Thankfully, there are some rules in place to make this party game a bit harder for sleuth fans. Detectives can up the ante by allowing the criminal to rub off 1 extra square per turn. Furthermore, criminals can have the option to choose an object rather than a character. Finally, you can stop victims from using text when creating their clues. This last rule will really have an impact if you're playing with artistically challenged friends.
These added rules do make it harder for the detectives and balance the game nicely. If you are finding it a bit one sided, make sure you add one of these adaptations to the mix to make it challenging.
Last Message is a great little party game. It’s quick to setup, fast to play, has lots of replayability and easy to teach. With its diverse artistic backgrounds there is a scene that everyone will enjoy. This game is great for large gatherings where you have to cater for a range of age groups.
Yet, there are a few niggling issues with this game. The erasable boards are not the best quality. After lots of use they tend to stain, and you’ll need to give them a good wash with soap. Also, if you press too hard, the image you drew can still be seen when rubbed out.
Additionally, even though the box boasts an 8-player count, I wouldn’t recommend it. I played with 6 and having 4 detectives was enough. Having more detectives leads to long discussion times or not enough for them to do. This can lead to boredom as the criminal and victim have to listen to debates about if it is the superhero with pants or without.
Overall, this is a game to get out if you’re entertaining. This one is my go-to when hanging out with my nephews as it’s an easy concept to teach and an enjoyable one to play. It’s a game you won’t play once as you’ll want to try out all the maps and roles before you put it away for the evening.