Solving crimes on the tabletop isn’t a new concept; we’ve seen several interesting takes over the years, with some like Chronicles of Crime and Detective using other devices in clever ways, or MicroMacro: Crime City focusing on a Where’s Wally? style of discovery. An upcoming board game with its own unique riff on the genre is Perspectives. We got to check it out as part of PAX Aus 2023 and play alongside designer Matthew Dunstan while having a chat about the genre.
Perspectives is focused on communication between players. Working together to solve a crime, each person around the table is given a few cards that act as varying pieces of evidence; a fingerprint, a suspect, a location, a crime report… all sorts of things that you’d normally associate with solving a case. The twist is, that you’re not allowed to show these cards to each other, only describe them as best you can verbally. This means coming to a conclusion on “whodunnit” isn’t as easy as it seems.
Dunstan says with Perspectives, communication was always key and central to playing the game. “Giving each player their own personal set of information and leaving it up to them as to how to share it allows players of different preferences to enjoy and participate in the game, rather than everyone having to crowd around one book or card for example.”
“…there is an element of responsibility for each player to participate in this communication…”
“We also wanted those ‘ah-hah’ moments where somewhere during the game you gain new insight into a card you’ve been looking at for the whole scenario. These moments where your perspective (boom-tish) suddenly shifts and you make sense of what you are looking at is one of the best parts of the game, in my opinion.”
Communication is paramount, and each of the cards has many different elements to take into account. With four players, we were given three cards each, which might not seem like a lot to keep track of, but many small visual details became crucial pieces of information. In our scenario, after 15-20 minutes of discussion, we were all still uncovering new elements, noticing tiny things that could play a part in solving the case. This balance is important in every scenario, according to Dunstan.
“Even though there are no rules about what you can communicate (you can even read things out verbatim), how do you choose what to share? And also, every card is crucial to the solution. So there is an element of responsibility for each player to participate in this communication, and they have some amount of ownership, something that is important in a cooperative game (rather than it simply being a solo game that can be played by multiple people).
Visually, Perspectives is appealing but also delivers a lot of important information, which was a real balancing act. “To be honest, we’ve relied heavily on the talents of the illustrators and the hard work of Space Cowboys in guiding them towards the final product,” says Dunstan. “It is a result of many, many iterations to achieve the right balance of difficulty and experience, and I think it is probably one of the most technical projects in that aspect that I have ever been a part of. So we have been very fortunate in the large team we get to be a part of to deliver the final box.”
I really enjoyed my play session with Perspectives, and its focus on communication means that it’s very easy to learn how to play. Four of us playing this demo session, mostly strangers to each other, managed to come together and figure out the solution successfully, which was satisfying and resulted in a cheer from us all when we nailed it. With many cases in the box to tackle, Perspectives could become a regular staple in any crime-solving tabletop night.
Perspectives is coming soon to all board game retailers.