Deception: Murder in Hong Kong Review

A murder has taken place in Hong Kong. You and your group of investigators have been assigned to the case, but someone on your team is the murderer. Can you pinpoint who in your ranks is the murderer, along with the how they did it and the evidence that proves it was them?

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a deduction game that supports 4-12 players. As an Investigator, its your goal to determine who the Murderer is, what Means they used to kill and what Clue card connects them with the crime. The Murderer, on the other hand, wants to survive three rounds without being identified.

To start the game, every player gets a role card. With the exception of the Forensic Scientist, everyone else will keep their roles a secret. In a standard game, the other roles are Investigator and Murderer. Each player except the Forensic Scientist will also get four Means cards, four Clue cards and one Badge. The Means cards indicate the cause of death, which range from specific weapons or methods that were used to kill. The Clue cards are the key piece of evidence that links the Murderer to the crime. As for the Badge, it’s each player’s one shot to take a guess at solving the murder.

From there, the Forensic Scientist will lead the rest of the group through the initial setup. Every player except the Forensic Scientist will close their eyes. Then, the Murderer will open their eyes, pick one Means card and one Clue card in front of them. Once that is done, all players will open their eyes and the investigation begins.

While the Forensic Scientist knows who the Murderer is, they cannot directly tell the group the answers. Instead, they must communicate through a set of six Scene cards. The Cause of Death and Location of the Crime cards are fixed, while four additional Scene cards are drawn at the start of the first round. Each card features a category, as well as a set of answers. The Forensic Scientist will then use one bullet per card to highlight a clue that best relates to the Means and Clue cards.

If you think you have the answer, throw in your Badge and identify the Murderer, Means and Clue. If you get all three right, the Investigators win. If you get less than three right, the Forensic Scientist simply says the answer is incorrect.

If player’s can’t solve the crime after the first round, the Forensic Scientist can swap out one of the four additional Scene cards for a new one. Should that not work, the Forensic Scientist can do this one more time. At this point, if all the Badges have been thrown in and the crime hasn’t been solved in full, the Murderer wins.

The theme of the game is works incredibly well. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in each case, taking the few hints you have and trying to piece it all together. Lots of serious and silly dialogue will take place throughout. With so many different Means and Clue cards, the conversations surrounding each game will vary wildly. My one gripe with the theme is that it doesn’t make sense that the Forensic Scientist can’t just tell the Investigators who did it, but its a minor foible that’s easy to get over.

In general, I’m a fan of deduction games of this ilk, such as The Resistance and Spyfall. However, the fundamental challenge many of these types of games face is that lying can be really hard for a lot of players. If you can’t hold a straight face when someone grills you, oftentimes these games completely fall apart. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong makes the role of Murderer much easier to handle.

As hints are given by the Forensic Scientist, they’re usually vague enough to allow for multiple theories on what happened. The Murderer can muddy the proceedings by throwing out their own guesses of what happened, as well as by burning their Badge on a faulty guess. Even if the group knows it’s you, they still have to figure out how you did it, which is almost always tough and it doesn’t require you to perform much in the way of mental gymnastics to maintain your cover.

The way that hints are doled out by the Forensic Scientist is also great. Most of the time, the hints you can give don’t quite spell it out, sparking a lot of conversation around the table as to what was trying to be communicated. At times, certain hints don’t line up at all, but the Forensic Scientist must answer all Scene cards, leading to some hints being more important than others. This adds yet another layer of depth to the game.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a stellar deduction game that will suck players in with its modern crime theme and keep them with wildly addictive gameplay. With a few extra variants included, this game is going to keep players engaged for a long time. In fact, I’d say this is even better than some of the deduction classics, such as The Resistance and Spyfall. Truly impressed with this one.

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