Teaching Time: 30 mins
Playing Time: 30 mins
Setup Time: 5 mins
Value For Money: Mid
Solo Play Review
Co-op games and by extension solo games walk a tough line when it comes to difficulty. Arkham Noir has an ironically arcane set up system with much of its rules buried in unclear icons rather than text. These two facts are best explained as relevant by my saying that on my first play through of Arkham Noir I accidentally set up on its highest difficulty level and won the game.
The game requires that cards be played in sequence to complete lines of investigation with certain cards having additional powers and certain sequences needed to complete the game. The process and so the game is intensely complex without being particularly intellectually demanding. Arkham Noir is compact, low priced and looks splendidly appropriate to its theme. However, the lack of components makes play and set up fiddly and untidy and whilst attractive on the surface icons with differing purposes often have almost identical appearances suggesting visuals that prioritise style over substance.
All these failings would be forgiven however if not for the total failure of the game's narrative justification. If you are hungry for a game with a painted on Lovecraft theme then the world has oversupplied your need. Given this prevalence claiming a Lovecraft story to sell your game and then failing to tell that story is hard to forgive. Arkham's game play requires cards to be played in a sequence, theoretically creating a line of clues following leads and building up the "big picture". However, the clues the game connects together are at best arbitrary and most usually come in the same category for mechanical reasons leading to a chain of clues consisting of totally unrelated stories. As such there is rarely any sense of narrative in a completed game. Fundamentally this is a card based puzzle with a stuck on Lovecraft veneer, and not a particularly challenging or charming puzzle.
Arkham Noir is good looking, compact and competitively priced. Sadly its puzzle parts lack challenge or interest and its narrative elements are bolted on.