I very much enjoy a good mystery. I know I’m in good company in loving Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. Plus, I remember having this book as a kid and loving it so much. (SO MUCH.) Thus, I was incredibly pleased to find a couple of two-player mystery games! Mr. Jack and Le Fantome de l’Opéra pit the players against each other: one is the detective, trying to solve a whodunnit, while the other works on behalf of the criminal. The two games are almost indistinguishable excepting their background story and the look of the game board. In my opinion, Mr. Jack is the better game, but both are worth your time. So let’s take a little tour…
Mr. Jack takes place in London in the neighborhood of Whitechapel, where eight characters have gathered. Unbeknownst to the player acting as detective, one of the characters is actually Mr. Jack in disguise! The player acting as Mr. Jack must protect the identity of Mr. Jack’s character by avoiding being accused for 8 turns (or by fleeing the neighborhood altogether!). Each turn, both players have the opportunity to move some of the 8 characters.
Above, you can see the game board with some round character tokens (most visible are the red and blue ones, for instance), as well as some yellow light posts. Characters adjacent to the light, or in view of another character are considered ‘visible.’ At the end of each turn, the detective gets a binary piece of information: the other player says whether or not Mr. Jack is visible.
By the end of 8 turns, the detective must use this information to figure out which player is Mr. Jack! If the detective is wrong, or Mr. Jack escapes off the game board (via exits at each corner), the detective loses. But if Mr. Jack is accused before the last turn is up… it’s curtains!
Before Mr. Jack I had never played a game like this before. It wasn’t too difficult to learn or play, and kind of let me feel like I was in the various mysteries I love so much. Also, in this game you can feel super stealthy! (I am probably the opposite of stealthy in real life, so this is quite valuable to me.) I give Mr. Jack a very solid 4 stars.
Now there’s no need to spend very long on Le Fantome de l’Opéra. It is, in many ways, the same as Mr. Jack (although somehow for me it fell a little short). Instead of moving through a town, you are moving through an old opera house:
Again, you can see the different character tokens in different rooms of the opera house. The detective spends the game trying to identify the phantom (Le Fantome), and the phantom tries to avoid being caught! This game becomes infinitely more fun if you speak in french accents the entire time. Overall, 3 stars.
I’ll end this post with an extra tidbit. For some reason, writing about Mr. Jack made me think about film noir. I kept trying to find ways to include some sort of film noir lingo in the post. But aside from gumshoe in the title I just couldn’t swing it. However, to satisfy my desire for some film noir content, here are some choice film noir quotes:
Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd): “You oughta have more sense than to take chances with strangers like this.”
Joyce Harwood (Veronica Lake): “It’s funny, but practically all the people I know were strangers when I met them.”
[The Blue Dahlia – 1946]
Monte (Zachary Scott): “Oh, I wish I could get that interested in work.”
Ida (Eve Arden): “You were probably frightened by a callus at an early age!”
[Mildred Pierce – 1945]
Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker): “You’re never around when I need you.”
Velda (Maxine Cooper): “You never need me when I’m around.”
[Kiss Me Deadly – 1955]
Joan to Halliday: “What I like about you is you’re rock bottom. I wouldn’t expect you to understand this, but it’s a great comfort for a girl to know she could not possibly sink any lower.”
[The Big Steal – 1949]
(all quotes [+ many others!] found @ andysnoir.blogspot.com/)