Review – Batman: Everybody Lies by Portal Games
Website Link – https://amzn.to/3GcpJin (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Price – $50.00
Disclaimer: we purchased the game with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.
The original Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game came out in 2018 and since then Portal and reutilized the Detective mechanics and play style in several sequels and spinoffs. Most recently, Portal has entered the city of Gotham with Batman: Everybody Lies.
In this game of deduction, players will take on the roles of four investigators as they work to unravel several mysteries plaguing Gothman. Character choices include Gotham Gazette employees Vicki Vale and Warren Spacey, GCPD detective Harvey Bullock, and anti-hero Cat Woman. These roles matter since different characters might have better access to certain leads and each will come with their own personal goals for each case. Players will cooperatively decide how to pursue leads in order to gain as much key information as possible. Traveling well-known Gotham landmarks, this requires management of time and resources. The more quickly and accurately the case is solved, the better the players’ final score.
This game will use a mix of physical and digital resources. Physically, the players will have boards, story decks, tokens, and more. Digitally, players will have access to a database which will give them access to more information presented to them by leads and a portal to enter their final answers.
No matter how many clues are gathered, the game will never directly tell players what the final solution is until they submit their final answers. This game is all about deduction. The investigators must use their gathered intel to best decide where the information points.
Batman: Everybody Lies is made up of a prologue case and three full cases. Each case is advertised to take about 2-3 hours (personally, our times sat closer to the two hour mark).
We’ve previously played and enjoyed both Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game: Season One, so we were very excited to play a Batman themed take on those games. We are happy to report that Portal has delivered a solid venture into the dark underbelly of Gotham and the world of Batman.
For the most part, Everybody Lies drops players into a fully realized and active version of Gotham. Batman is a known entity and crime already exists from local mob bosses all the way up to the supervillains you probably already know such as The Riddler, Killer Croc, and The Joker. There is no need to waste time on setting up origins stories or acting as if a supervillain reveal is a big deal. Nope. This is Gotham, things are crazy, there are cases to solve, and we need to get to it. We really appreciated that aspect of the game because it let us jump right into the fun of Batman’s world.
The game is marketed as a story-driven experience and that is an accurate description. Until they finally decide to try their hand at solving the mystery, players’ big choices will be about which leads to pursue and how to spend their evidence resources. That means a lot of the actual gameplay will be reading and sorting through the information that you’ve gathered. Thankfully, we felt the stories and cases were strong enough to warrant playing through. While each case could technically be played as a stand alone story, they all fit together for a larger overall arc and adventure, which is an element we missed for the original Detective Game.
The designers did a good job of both sprinkling clues throughout the game and giving players several options to mull over for each case. The correct answers never feel impossible to get to but they are far from gimmies either. There are green, yellow, and red zones in which players could end their investigation during, and for each case we ended up in yellow which is their equivalent of medium scoring.
Portal has its overall game system and digital clue database worked out perfectly, so there were no hiccups there. Their web portal is user friendly and easy to use.
Portal seems to switch up a few gameplay elements for each of their Detective-based games and they did that again here. There weren’t any changes here they we disagreed with, but some seemed more worth it than others. Needing to spend resources to visit certain locations and having to pay more for visiting them more often felt like a decent and equal trade off for their former passage of time mechanic.
We did like the implementation of personal goals for characters. This keeps everyone feeling more involved and should give players more direction for what they would like to delve into more. This could create some competitive tension as players pull in different directions but in a good way that captures the in-story characters’ personalities as well. With only two of us and with both us being pretty agreeable, we never fought too hard on where to go or how to spend resources.
The only new element we wish they did more with was the addition of scene cards. These were comic based depictions of different scenes that players encounter. While they provide nice visuals to the experience, they don’t appear to add anything to actual gameplay and could be removed with little impact. We would have preferred if some clues might have been hidden within pictures and scene depictions as well, sort of more like you’d see in escape rooms or breakout boxes.
Finally, we should say that we pre-ordered the game, so we got a few extra goodies such as physical newspaper articles and upgraded tokens. These don’t change gameplay either and anyone without them will still have access to everything they need, but we really enjoyed having these. The extra bit of physical presence they lend the game is nice and it is easier to share a large newspaper article than to crowd around a computer screen. Again, you won’t need these, but they are nice to have if you have the opportunity to snag them.
If you’re a fan of Batman or simply love good mysteries and deduction, then Batman: Everybody Lies is probably a game for you. However, if you’re not a big fan of heavy reading or aren’t up for applying a lot of brain power, maybe skip this one and go watch one of the many great Batman movies instead.
Official C&C Rating:
Overall Fun: 4/5
Final Averaged Rating: 3.8/5 Stars