Review – Kids’ Chronicles: Quest for the Moon Stones
|Artist||Mateusz Komada, Maryna Nesterova, Chanon Torncharoensri|
|Publisher||Lucky Duck Games|
|Category||Kids' Game, Campaign Game|
My kids are at the age where I’m snatching up all the “kids’ versions” of my favorite games. Ticket to Ride: First Journey, Mysterium Kids, Dragomino, and Quacks and Co. are all great slimmed down versions of their big brothers. But while I’ve never played Chronicles of Crime, I’ve really enjoyed legacy / campaign style games with kids like Unlock! Kids and My City, so I was eager to try Kids’ Chronicles: Quest for the Moon Stones with my oldest daughter. How’d it go? Let’s take a look!
Our first impression of Kids’ Chronicles wasn’t great. The auto-scan option we had turned on was hectic and confusing, the gyroscopic approach to viewing the scenes made it hard to work together, and the tutorial story made little sense in terms of puzzle-solving. My daughter looks at the box afterwards and goes “This bad game is by Lucky Duck? But they make Turtle Splash!!” I needed to review the game, so I coaxed into her playing another scenario. She’s quite glad I did so, even if I’m not so sure about my own feelings. During that second game, you could see her suspicion and doubt melt away to excitement, even as if she tried to hide it. Apparently I haven’t read her enough fairy tales, as figuring out the (fairly obvious) identity of a certain character all on her own brought a huge smile to her face, and she has eagerly kept playing the game with me, even if I’m ready to move on to something else.
Despite my kids’ deep enjoyment of the game, Kids’ Chronicles has a glaring number of flaws. In an attempt to emulate RPGs, the game has a ridiculous amount of backtracking. When you know you want to go back to talk to the Dragon in the Volcano, you can’t just scan the Dragon and have the game interpolate the travel in between. You have to scan the Volcano – wait, no, you can’t do that, because you’re not adjacent to the Volcano. You have to scan Merlin’s Tower, just so you can scan the Volcano, just so you can scan the Dragon. If the video game aspect of the game is supposed to make it better; then why do video games have fast travel options, but this doesn’t? I also did not like the gyroscopic movement for the scenes; it made it too hard to play together. It’s much better to slide the scene around with your finger so both players can see, but sometimes the kids were too amused with the gyroscopic method to share. I also recommend keeping the “auto scan” option off; it’s far too sensitive to the QR codes and the whole thing can end up a mess.
But there are two much bigger problems. The first is that the whole thing feels… empty? It’s a board and two decks of cards. I don’t need a lot of components in a game, but the board always looks barren and eventually we didn’t even bother putting the cards on top of it. Everything happens on the app. This could have just been a tablet/cell phone app, and older kids could have had a great time with that, with or without dad. But I also just don’t think it’s got very good writing. While it’s got some more theme, and people that “talk” to you (via written text) than other escape room games, the puzzles aren’t good. As an example (sorry for the minor spoilers), I need a shovel. I got the shovel because the bard just happened to have it after I gave him a four-leaf clover. We were able to figure out he needed the clover (although the reason made little sense), but we had no reason to think he had the shovel. Remind me why bards carry shovels around? We haven’t gotten stuck, but the puzzles are just an exercise in deus ex machina for kids, and not actual puzzles. Considering the absolutely incredible puzzles that Unlock! Kids managed to do with cards and no board and no app, I was pretty disappointed with what was an offer here. And the real advantage here is supposed to be that it’s more story-driven, but the writing is lazy. It’s basic and recycles standard fairy tale plot lines. At least to the adult playing along, it was a disappointment.
But my opinion doesn’t really matter, does it? What matters is whether the kids enjoyed it. And my oldest absolutely loved it, and wants me to keep it forever and ever, even though she’s played all the scenarios and knows what happens. When my other kids are old enough, I’ll happily let her teach them the game (assuming the app still works) and play it with them, but I’ll be sure to join them myself for Unlock! Kids afterwards.
The Bottom Line
My kids enjoyed Kids' Chronicles immensely, but I personally think there are much better kids' games out there.