Review – Suspects 2 & 3
|Designer||Guillaume Montiage, Manuel Rozoy|
|Length||1-2 hours per case|
|Release Date||2022 (volume 2), 2023 (volume 3)|
The Suspects game series continues with a pair of standalone titles: Claire Harper, Eternal Investigator and Adele and Neville, Investigative Reporters. Each game offers three new cases—ready for some more sleuthing?
As a big fan of mystery-solving games, I enjoyed Suspects: Claire Harper Takes the Stage. I found the Suspects game system to be well-crafted, and I was pleased to see that it avoids some of the pitfalls of other narrative-driven mystery games.
Naturally, then, I was excited to check out the follow-up releases. In this review, I will be looking at the second and third games in the series. Since their core mechanisms are essentially the same as those in the first game, I won’t be rehashing how to play, but rather I’ll be focusing on my overall (spoiler-free) opinion of the play experience.
Suspects 2: Claire Harper, Eternal Investigator
The second Suspects outing continues the Claire Harper narrative, taking place at different points in her life. The opening case is set in her days as a school girl (1921), the next case at the London Olympics (1948), and the final case at the peaceful lakes of Switzerland (1971).
After meeting the Claire character in the first game, it’s interesting to see a deeper look at her life. The original cases all take place around the same time, when Claire is a young adult and a budding, wunderkind detective. Eternal Investigator feels like character development—by the end, players will have seen a fifty-year arc of her timeline.
The cases themselves felt to me a bit more complex than those in the first Suspects game. Depending upon player preference, this could be a positive or a negative. I found that with the added complexity came added moments of frustration, moments where I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to have known a piece of information. (Maybe I was just playing poorly? That’s probably it.)
That being said, though, I also found moments of rewarding deduction, moments where I felt like a sleuth making a breakthrough in a case. There were times that I followed a hunch and it turned out to be correct—a great feeling, to say the least.
Suspects 2 is a good continuation of what the original started. Compared side-by-side, I enjoyed the cases in the first game slightly more, but folks who want a tougher challenge might prefer this one.
Suspects 3: Adele and Neville, Investigative Reporters
Suspects 3 retires the Claire Harper character and introduces a pair of new protagonists. In this game, players represent Adele, a photographer, and Neville, a journalist. These young upstarts travel the world in search of scoops and mysteries.
The trio of cases, set in the 1960s, varies in terms of difficulty and quality. One case in particular felt rather disjointed, expecting deductions and logic leaps that I never would have thought to make. The other two cases, however, felt like they had more realistic expectations, even if I wasn’t able to solve them entirely.
The Woodstock-era theme comes through well in this game, thanks largely to the once again fantastic art. As in the earlier two Suspects games, the detailed illustrations—lovingly rendered on oversized cards—really draw players into the game-world.
For me, Adele and Neville comes in just below Eternal Investigator. I enjoyed it overall, but the oblique middle case dampened my experience a bit.
Bottom line, the first Suspects remains my favorite, but admittedly, this might be in part because when I played it, the game system was also new to me, so there was a novelty factor on top of the cases themselves. (It’s like the EXIT series—the first time you play one, the system feels new and fresh. Each subsequent EXIT might have different tricks up its sleeve, but since the core game remains the same from one version to another, it’s hard to capture that “first play” experience a second time.)
For folks interested in this series, my order of recommendation happens to be the same as the game’s chronology. The original Suspects is the place to start, and if you enjoy that, then the next two are best played in order.
Review copies were provided by Hachette Boardgames.
The Bottom Line
While not quite as engaging the first Suspects game, volumes 2 and 3 are good follow-ups. Between the pair of them, I liked volume 2 slightly more than volume 3.