MicroMacro: Crime City is a little treat that has taken the tabletop world by storm, popping up during the pandemic to become 2021’s crowning Spiel des Jahres (think tabletop’s TGA GOTY). What we have in this humble white and stencilled box, arrayed with a sample of the titular city and its minuscule denizens, is a large sheet of paper and a stack of cards. This sheet lays out a bird’s eye view portion of Crime City, with the cards to be organised into a set of 16 investigations. These investigations will have players asked to determine the location of a crime, consider who in the vicinity might be a culprit, and follow their movements on this map to confirm their suspicions and determine the motive. All this on one static sheet full of hustle and bustle, and plenty of hilarious mishaps to be spotted along the way.
Similarly with All In, the third entry in the Crime City saga, players will cooperatively sleuth out some tragedy that has befallen the little comic citizens of this colourless, monochrome cityscape.
The beginner cases that ease players in often take mere minutes, unravelling a series of unfortunate events while trailing a cast of characters defined by exaggerated body features (point carrot nose, exaggerated grimace) or notable accessories (bullwhip, balaclava). Running your finger across the map as you follow these characters and checking your cards for the next sequential clue means play unfolds at a reasonably fast pace. Charmingly, this experience of tracing tiny characters about a single image that comprises the entire game is paradoxically dynamic despite being a static satellite overview of the comical crime city.
This third iteration of Micro Macro continues to stoke the flames first ignited by playing these miniature worlds with two players. While there is certainly a satisfaction and buzzing of the imagination across this game, there is also the frustration of hitting occasional walls. It is easy to be chasing the wrong leads and think you have figured out the clue’s directions correctly, only to verify the back of the clue card and be found incorrect. This potential spoiler for the errant player can be mitigated by having another player check the back of the card in your stead, confirming or denying your clues. In this fashion, the benefit of roping in a tag-along allows this game a kind of ad-hoc tiered-hint system (like us gamers enjoy in our decent, modern point & click games).
I lost a delightfully tragic 20 minutes to these six cards
A clue asks you where the food came from at the fancy pier side restaurant where the patrons appear to have suffered food poisoning en masse. Well, as mundane as it sounds, you follow the reverse route of the delivery truck that supplied the food that day. As you follow the truck, noting its peculiar window shape and logo, you see its backward trajectory disappear into the back lot of a biker club. You turn to your partner, having dawned on you while seeing this static series of events play out with no motion, that the bikies hijacked the van as a consequence of the joint not paying security to the club. Sure, it makes no sense, but why should a city named after crime? It’s all about that shared thrill, the combined magic of two imaginations intuiting the lifestyles, logic, and motivations of the simple comical denizens of this delightfully dangerous urban sprawl.
Having played this with my partner and her mother, I wouldn’t however recommend playing this game with three or more players. It starts with one person going “aha” as they furiously zip their index finger across one end of the map to the other, with all three of us craned over the sheet and shuffling past one another in an attempt to follow or backtrack our chosen lead’s movements. It ends with the more forceful player of the three (not me) pushing everyone else out of the way so they can lean across the table to have a squiz at their suspected quadrant of interest.
Instead, this game glows when the deduction puzzle inches forward as each player follows their leads and bounces off of one another. As a solo experience, the mysteries would often hit snags as I found myself chasing red herrings or misunderstanding the clue prompt. Yet, if you can’t rope in another adult or young person looking to graduate from the red-striped Halloween costume fodder that is Wally, All In remains a smart and visually stimulating thrill that my lower back loathes as I hover across my table, eye inches from the map.
Zoom… Zoom… Enhance… Spot the pigs
A printing issue arose with very few spelling mistakes appearing in the investigation cards. There is little text beyond the single sentence prompts on the fronts of the cards, with a small amount of text on the backs confirming case clues and giving some context for the characters’ predicaments. An otherwise forgivable misstep that players will quickly forget in favour of getting back to the brilliant city map.
The beauty of the MicroMacro Crime City series is wholly present with All In, a game that leaves just enough to the imagination that players will exercise their Where’s Wally deduction skills to spot and trace the movements and motivations of these charming little reprobates. As a shared experience of two, the thrill of mapping out these suspects as they commute about the city is something we can recommend trying. As a box worth owning, the value proposition will see at least a dozy week through before passing on to a mate.
Review copy supplied by the publisher