There’s some enjoyment to be had in this crossword hybrid but ultimately it is too repetitive and there are far too many bugs for a recommendation.
Genre: Puzzle, Word Game,
Developer: Trailblazer Games
Publisher: Trailblazer Games
Release date: 25 Jan, 2021
You are an investigative journalist reporting on crimes and helping the Police solve cases. Using your word building skills you place letters on a grid scoring points and earning enough stars to progress. By interviewing, interrogating, convincing, deceiving & debating you will reveal the culprit behind the crime.
The first thing to note is that this game has a serious bug and a few minor bugs which will stop you from progressing in the story. Nobody should be recommending this game until they are fixed. If you want to complete this game it becomes very difficult later on due to these bugs and you’ll be struggling to muster enough stars to continue.
Crossword City Chronicles is a crossword game where you place tiles on a grid already populated by words. If you have ever played Scrabble then you will know what to expect.
You are a reporter helping the police solve crimes. You need to interview, interrogate, debate, convince and sometimes deceive suspects to get the story.
Each method is a slightly different crossword game.
Interview involves fitting your pre-determined letters onto the grid populated by two words. There are double word tiles which when used will double your score. There is no minimum score to achieve and this can be repeated as many times as you like until you reach five stars. Generally one interview will earn you up to two stars.
Interrogation is the same grid but some squares are hidden in the shadows. By creating words near the hidden tiles, they are revealed. You have to reveal a certain number of tiles to progress.
Debate is where you have a four-by-four grid of letters where two bombs are present. You have to fit one of your letters on to the grid. If the word you produce contains a bomb, it will explode and count all the letters it takes with it. The explosion might cause new words to be formed which are also counted on your score. This is definitely the hardest game to complete as it does rely on luck a lot and without the bombs almost impossible to win.
To complete convince you need to reach a certain number of points in a specified number of turns.
Occasionally, you will need to deceive suspects and trick them into confessions. This involves linking two words together in a certain number of turns. This game was completely bugged and only once produced two words. Just make a word or link two words together to reach the last arrow on the grid.
Very rarely, you’ll also need to make decisions about how you treat characters in the game. Do you reveal your sources or do you hire a character to help you for example? Playing a game where you place tiles on one side or the other side will make that decision. Decisions can alter the story arc very slightly. The amount of space is limited in this particular version of the crossword which does make things slightly more challenging.
On the grid are also coins which when collected can be spent on hiring informants. When you reach a certain level of an informant the letter they represent is increased in value by one, then two etc.… and can help you score more points. As you upgrade your informants it takes longer to get to the next level. Unfortunately, you can’t pick an informant to upgrade. It is purely random. Often, letters you never really use are increased by one instead of you being able to upgrade the value of a common letter. It is a nice idea and gives you a small incentive to carry on.
There are around 35 cases to solve and each case takes between thirty minutes to an hour so there is a lot of play time for your money.
Cases are presented very well with a variety in the story plots on offer. Some are thefts, some are mafia related and there are even some murders to solve. The main currency in the game is stars. You have to keep interviewing suspects until you earn enough stars to open up a new branch of the story. Each interview potentially awards you five stars and each attempt generally earns you either one or two stars depending on how well you did. Earning one star will open up a new branch of the story but eventually you will need to go back to a person you have already interviewed just to get a star to continue. This is the theme of the game. Each level requires a certain number of stars to unlock and later in the game the requirement gets tougher. I found that I had to revisit cases I had already completed just to obtain the amount of stars needed to unlock levels. This does become a little grinding but nothing too much. The problem lies in when a level does not lock due to a bug. This can hinder you severely when trying to unlock later levels as you have lost the ability to earn a potential fifteen stars. This is when I stopped playing the game.
To solve the case you will need to earn gold cups by playing one of the specialized games (interrogation, convince, deceive and debate). Once you have earned the required amount you can solve the case. If you get all gold cups you can super solve the case which gives you an extra cut scene and a bit more lore to the game.
The city map is where you can choose your next case. You can revisit cases to earn extra stars to unlock levels. Each level shows you how many stars there are left to earn and how many you need to unlock that particular level. As you can see Level fourteen refused to open!
Graphics are colourful and the characters are very well drawn and represented. The crossword grid is easy on the eye and tiles are big and easily seen.
Sound could be improved. An annoying tune repeats forever and there are not enough special effect noises.
If it wasn’t for the bugs, I would probably be recommending this title.
Bugs include the story not progressing or updating, but this can be fixed by coming out of the case and back in again; Sometimes whole levels do not unlock meaning you will miss out on fifteen stars which could be crucial to carrying on; In debate the bombs occasionally do not appear which makes it extremely hard to progress, again losing valuable stars and in deceive the second word never appears.
As gaining stars is the fundamental way of progressing the story and continuing the game, I suspect that in later levels you will not be able to carry on as there will be no more options to earn stars and unlock levels.
There are five different types of word game to play and these are repeated throughout each case.
I really liked the idea of having a progressive story running through the game. Although each case is different and separate, there are links to other cases and other Characters. After completing a dozen cases or so you start to get to know the characters and their personalities which is unusual in a word game.
The cases are interesting enough to pursue but there is no detective work involved. Eventually you will solve the case. It is just a matter of how long it will take. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a detective game as it is not. The detective angle is just a vehicle to drive the story along. It is purely a crossword game with five varieties of crossword. This is rinsed and repeated thirty times.
It would have been nice to be able to swap letters in forfeit of a turn and have blank letters but these options were not present. The grid only ever produced double word tiles and not double or triple word or letter squares.
There is no challenge in the game at all. It is very easy. You can repeat the same interview as many times as you like until you earn enough stars to progress. If you are good at crosswords then you’ll just earn the stars quicker. Some of the games do have a minimum score to reach but the bar is so low it rarely offers a test of any kind.
The game looks very nice with well-drawn characters and colourful backgrounds. The characters are quite stereotypical but the artwork does a good job of portraying emotion. There is no voice acting. Stories are told by text bubbles and static images.
I think the music and special effects could be improved. I would have liked to have seen more bells and whistles. You get a rating for each word placed whether it be okay, good, excellent or amazing but you get no sound along with the visual congratulations. If I score an amazing word, I want a fanfare! There is also a tune which repeats over and over throughout the game which never changes and although melodic is annoying.
Crossword City Chronicles is a competent crossword game which is severely hampered if not ruined by bugs. It will prevent you from finishing the game in the latter stages.
It’s a shame as there is a lot to like about the game. Character development in a word game is unusual and the stories, although brief, are charming and interesting.
The graphics are detailed and colourful and the characters are larger than life.
After fifteen hours I’m just realizing that the bugs are going to affect the game so there is still some enjoyment before you hit a brick wall.
I still wouldn’t recommend it until they’re fixed though and it looks like the developers aren’t that active.