Thursday, June 1, 2023

Preview: Kolossal Turns Solving Crime Into A Team Sport With ‘Almost Innocent’

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Ever since Werewolf and its many spinoffs, ripoffs, and derivatives became a constant feature at every gaming convention, game companies and designers have been working to add new spins to the social deduction formula. And, of course, the popularity of Among Us has meant the interest in these games from even casual gamer has gone up. But how do we make a genre so beautifully simple in structure different beyond slapping a new theme on things or changing a few names? Well, the folks at Kolossal Games (All Manor of Evil, Western Legends) figured out a way: teamwork.

Almost Innocent box
Image by Todd Patriquin

Welcome to Almost Innocent, a brand new spin on the social deduction game that makes the classic format of “who killed the dead person” into a co-op puzzle experience! The game hits Kickstarter TODAY, and the folks at Kolossal were kind enough to send me a preview copy to check out beforehand.

What’s In The Box?

  • 3 double pages of the introductory campaign
  • 6x solution cards (black)
  • 6x solution cards (blue)
  • 6x solution cards (yellow)
  • 6x solution cards (green) 6x solution cards (red)
  • 12x investigation tokens (two sided)
  • 3x Almost Innocent tokens
  • 60x note taking sheets
  • 4x player screens including player aid
  • Queen Token
  • Queen Dice
  • 8x player ability cards
  • 10x ability cubes
  • 2x ability shapes

This game has a fantastic look and feel to it, even in the prototype stage. Hitoshi Matsura has given the game the feel almost like paper dolls come to life, expressive and colorful without being overly ornate.

How’s It Play?

Almost Innocent box and tiles
Image by Todd Patriquin

The game is set up as a campaign story, with the small party of adventurer’s moving through the story and facing new challenges as the game goes on. It’s not the sort of campaign where you need to have the same group each time, but it’s another example of games trying harder to ease you into the difficulty of a game rather than making you figure it out at once. Each member of the party is a enough of a scoundrel that these murders and other crimes can easily be pinned on them, and its up the group as a whole to prove that they did borderline nothing wrong.

Each player has a screen they work behind, where they hold the five clues that prove one of their compatriot’s innocence (the one to the left). Meanwhile, the person to a player’s right holds the five clues which the player must deduce to prove THEIR innocence. These generally follow the Clue formula of who, what, where, with what weapon etc.

Almost Innocent clue grid
Almost Innocent clue grid

The core of the game is all about asking questions. In front of the players is a grid containing all of the possible clues, and the you must ask questions about each row or column to figure out if your clues might be there. You can only ask either if your particular clue is in that line, or how many of your clues are in that line. The cool thing is that the asker isn’t the only one who gets to learn about that row, and each player gets to ask in turn. It helps add to the group strategy that’s a key part of the game. When a row or column has been asked about, it can’t be asked again. The harder the game, the fewer chances you get to ask the questions. The scenario ends when everyone has solved their mystery and you can move on in the book!

The Verdict

Almost Innocent player screens
Almost Innocent player screens (Image by Todd Patriquin)

I think this is really going to be a big hit with so many types of gamers. Adding truly co-op elements to the normally individualistic deduction genre is a stroke of genius. The joy of a successful deduction is made even better when you’re sharing it with friends. Fans of the genre will like the new twist, while people who avoid traditional deduction games will enjoy a way to get that satisfying problem solving feeling without people ganging up on them. Plus, there’s lot of effort put into the production of this game (as we’d expect from Kolossal). It doesn’t feel as minimalist as so many others.

If you want to get in on Almost Innocent, you can back it on Kickstarter now! And keep an eye out here for more news, previews, and more from Kolossal games!

Images via Kolossal Games

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  • Dan Arndt

    Fiction writer, board game fanatic, DM. Has an MFA and isn't quite sure what to do now. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Indianapolis.

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