Batman has not only become a box office and video game draw; his popularity ensures that he is also important in board games. The latest Caped Crusader tabletop outing is Batman: Everybody Lies, an iteration of Portal Games’ Detective series. These titles challenge players to solve crimes by examining a lot of text and some picture cards for clues before attempting to put the puzzle together. In other words, they allow you to channel the ‘Dark Knight Detective’ side of Batman’s identity.
Seeing as The Batman recently reminded us that the vigilante is also the world’s greatest detective, it seems like Batman: Everybody Lies has come at exactly the right time.
What is it and how it works?
– Type of game: cooperative mystery
– Players: 2 – 4
– Difficulty: Moderate
– It has a duration: 2 hours+
– Centuries: 14+
– Price: $50 / £39.99
– Play if you like: Portal Games detective series, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Text-heavy detective adventures are not a new idea for board games. (opens in a new tab) (just look at the Bureau of Investigation) and like most of them, Batman: Everybody Lies is easy to pick up. After all, the essence of the game is to search for clues amidst all the narrative and case files you uncover, so there’s no need for strict rules to do the heavy lifting. However, you will need access to a computer as some of the material you have to read is only available online.
Each player chooses a character, from Vicki Vale to Harvey Bullock (sorry, Batman himself is not an option… although you can access his input on the cases through another character, Catwoman). You then choose one of four scenarios, which pose a question you must solve and a series of clues to get you started. Each clue is linked to a particular location on the game board and comes with a ream of text to read and sometimes a comic-art ‘scene’ card that may contain additional clues. Often, you’ll also need to go to the website to see things like police reports.
Each turn you advance on the investigation track, which is essentially a timer, and follow a clue. Moving locations may be free, but most of them (such as the GCPD) require an access token which characters can purchase with research tokens, which can be obtained from leads or by sacrificing time on the research track. Some clues will also give the characters secret personal goals to accomplish, which may affect the overall setting or may be just for fun to help you play your character.
This continues until the group feels they have enough information to answer the question posed at the beginning of the scenario. You then return to the website, which will ask you about the overall goal and any relevant personal goals you have chosen. Your answers, combined with your position on the investigation track (which indicates how quickly you solved the case) will give you an overall score.
how to play
Batman: Everybody Lies lists a player count of two to four, but if you try to play it with a larger group, you’ll immediately run into a problem. Between the prospect cards and the online case files, there’s a batch of text to read each turn. That means someone read it aloud or pass the cards. In both cases, it adds up to a ton of downtime, a problem that only grows as you add players. Add in the extra time required for players to analyze their text-filled personal goals and you have a game where you spend a lot of time doing nothing.
As a result, the game works better as you reduce the number of players or even as a 2-player board game. In fact, despite the player having the box, it works quite well on its own, although you will miss out on the pleasure of discussing possible solutions with your fellow players, something that is built into the game through ‘recap’ slots in the game. time track. A solitaire player will also miss out on hidden personal goals, but actually hiding them doesn’t add much to the game. An astute team will make sure to solve those that add up to the score and ignore the ones that don’t, unless the necessary clues drop in their laps.
If you can muster the effort to get past those major hurdles, you’ll find that Batman: Everybody Lies tells a decent Batman story. All the key elements are here, from classic comic book villains to corrupt cops, and the story is dark and often quite gruesome. The details you’ll need to crack each case are also well presented, not mentioned in obvious ways or veiled behind frustratingly cryptic references. Rather, you will need to read between the lines, think about what is left unsaid, and the reaction and behavior of the people you are following or interviewing.
That said, there isn’t much in the way of strategy on how your investigation plays out. Choosing where to go and which leads to pursue tends to be a game of dice and it’s easy to miss important details through no fault of your own. The access tokens required to revisit certain areas of the board feel like an afterthought and are rarely factored into these decisions. And while the scene cards do help with the atmosphere a bit and have some great comic book graphics, they are underused in terms of providing visual clues to enrich the gameplay experience.
Hovering over everything like the shadow of a giant bat is the digital connection. The game website requires you to create an account and log in. This is not necessary. It keeps track of your score through each scenario, but this is actively frustrating as you have to manually reset it if you want to play again. It’s not likely that you will, as the site reveals the mysteries of the setting if you get the final questions wrong, rendering another slant on things pointless.
Getting information through the site feels like a similar waste of time. None of this is delivered in a way that wouldn’t work as well if it were printed on a card. Which makes the digital link an unnecessary extra, and one that shortens the lifespan of your game in case the site goes down or goes offline altogether. Board games that require an app or a site aren’t new and are still controversial to some degree, but for the most part, they use that digital aspect to create aspects of the game that can’t be done with just cards and plastic. That is simply not the case here.
Should you buy Batman: Everybody Lies?
The central test of Batman: Everybody Lies is whether it provides a satisfying Batman detective experience, and it does. However, the mechanical support structures around that narrative are weak by comparison and feel ill-tested. Encourages discussion, but creeps in with larger groups. It provides a variety of strategic levers and decision points, but they don’t really influence your success or failure. And perhaps most notably of all, it requires a website that actively worsens the gaming experience.
As such, this should only be recommended to true fans of the caped crusader, who will be happy to climb over barriers to enjoy the valuable story at the heart of things. Other groups will find better detective games elsewhere.
How We Tested Batman: Everybody Lies
This board game has been extensively tested in multiple hands-on matches with different numbers of people to give a better idea of how it performs with different numbers of players.
For more information on how the site handles tabletop reviews, check out our guide on how we test tabletop games and tabletop RPGs on GamesRadar+.
For more tips, be sure to check out these board games for adultsthe best cooperative board gamesY the last board games for families.