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Mythos Tales» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Another Study in Emerald - A Review of Mythos Tales rss

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Scott Sexton
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Elevator Pitch - Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective set in H. P. Lovecraft's Arkham, MA during the late 1920's & 30's.

Summary - If you are reading this review, I'm going to assume you've played, or are at least very familiar with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (SHCD). If not, stop reading this review and go check out the excellent review Shut Up & Sit Down posted a year or so back. In Mythos Tales (MT) players take on the role of an investigator (in truth, glorified research assistant) tasked by Prof. Armitage to solve mysteries that appear to have a supernatural bent (in truth you are serving as something of an odd peer review of Armitage's own investigations, much like how in SHCD you are being trained by Holmes and he is the one actually solving the case).

So what is different about MT when compared to SHCD?

1- MT adds pre-requisites to certain encounters. For example, lets say you find a particularly important clue. The game tells you to take a card (numbered 1 to 12) which symbolizes the fact that you've learned this particularly important bit of info. Later in the adventure, you may meet up with another character, and if you have that particular info, the game has you read a different passage then you would normally get if you didn't have the information.

2- MT defines the maximum length of the investigation from the get go. Each case starts with a brief summary of how much time you are allowed to complete the case, and a rough idea of how quick you'll need to move if you want to get a good score. This allows players to make the story/investigation itself more of a priority without having to completely abandon the "game" portion of MT (like players inevitably will do in SHCD).

3- The setting is obviously changed. Some folks out there are bound to complain, "Oh no, its another unnecessary C'thulhu game!" They would be wrong. To have SHCD reskinned in Arkham makes total sense. Lovecraft, like many of his contemporaries, was heavily influenced by A. C. Doyle, and many of Lovecraft's tales draw heavily from Doyle's mysteries.

What do I like about MT?

1- The weird clues hidden in the box. I don't want to be too spoilery here, but there are odd little snippets you will find in your box that are part of something more. It gives you a sense of a bigger picture that is slowly unfolding.

2- More room to explore the world in MT. MT never feels as stressful to complete as SHCD. MT is effectively a "casual mode" version of SHCD. The mysteries require you to have your brain working at full capacity, but the red herrings are far more obvious then they are in SHCD. Its far easier to stay on the trail with your investigation. Having time parameters to your investigation is nice because you have some tension that you need to wrap up things soon, without having it be nearly as stressful as SHCD's beatdown solutions.

3- Easier quizzes that relate more to your ability to uncover the whole story. In SHCD, there are quiz questions that aren't something you would get answers for when doing a good investigation. Most of the time, MT's quiz answers can be known by simply doing a good job investigating. For the questions you don't have answers for, you can probably piece them together by using the information you have.

4- Far less abusive then SHCD. MT goes out of its way to allow the player to figure out the mystery and experience the story. Armitage can be a bit gruff, but he never comes off like the complete ass that is Sherlock Holmes. Armitage will even give you a bit of extra help on your next adventure if you have a particularly bad time with a case.

5- This game has a future? 8th Summit games has strongly hinted that there is going to be continued support for this game. While there is plenty to enjoy out of the box on day one, if you are like me, you will find yourself wanting more once you've finished the base game.

What didn't I like about MT?

1- Artwork as spoilers. As you are flipping through the book during your investigation, there are several very prominent bits of artwork. Some of the artwork completely spoils the story. In the first two cases, one of your tasks is to figure out who/what "the monster of the week is" (think of the TV shows The X-Files or Supernatural). As you read through the encounter book, the art work in the margins makes it very obvious what kind of monster you are dealing with. This was a horrible design choice on the part of the publisher.

2- Bold text as spoilers in the first mystery. The first mystery uses bolded text to emphasize what information is especially important in a given entry (to teach players how to gleam vital info from walls of text). The problem with this is that it can be very easy for spoilers to slip out as a player is flipping through the game book. For example, I accidentally learned the name of the first mystery's "villain" because the name was bolded in the entry immediately next to one I was looking for. Ugh.

3- Art that doesn't grab me (especially the hard back cover). The art is fine, but I'm not the biggest fan of it. It isn't quite pulpy enough for my taste. It feels a bit to clean and modern. I would have rather had more "hand sketched" style art pieces. I'm especially unhappy with the front cover collage done for the cover of the hard back binding. It looks cheap and unsexy. How is it that they didn't think to make the hard cover look as cool as any of the pictures of books illustrated inside the book? They could have even made the book look like the Necronomicon. Missed opportunity.

4- The endings aren't endings. The endings are disappointing because they don't give you that cool showdown versus the villain. There are encounters that hint that such a thing could have been possible, too, which is kinda disappointing. The player enjoys a typical final discussion with Armitage before he sets out to have that cool resolution scene (which you never get to see). Its an anticlimactic ending that goes against the Lovecraft theme.

5- No branching endings. There could have been multiple ways to finish each mystery organically. In one adventure, I figured out who the bad guy was, where he was, and how to take him down for good. I could even travel to his location and have an encounter. BUT I never get the chance to kill the big bad myself. The game could have been easily designed with special encounters for each case that gives the player the chance to be something more then Armitage's research assistant. Missed opportunity.

6- Not as Lovecraftian as you would think. Yeah, MT is set in Arkham. Yes there are Lovecraftian tropes and characters, but only rarely does MT FEEL like a Lovecraft story. I'm reminded more of supernatural procedural shows: "Friday the 13th the TV Series", "The X-Files", and "Supernatural". MT never really feels as dark, brooding, and horrific as the source material. That isn't to say MT is bad, just that it doesn't perfectly emulate the source material.

7- The map of Arkham is cool, but it definitely looks a bit too modern. I like how nice the map looks, but it doesn't feel like a map drawn up in the 1920's or 30's. It just feels too clean and polished. Not a big deal, but a touch disappointing.

Conclusion - If you enjoyed SHCD, Mythos Tales is pretty much a must buy. While MT is not nearly as punishing or challenging as SHCD, MT does a great job at being entertaining. There is a rich sense of mystery and exploration offered in MT, even if it doesn't deliver an experience that is as true to the source material as what you get in SHCD. The new game play innovations do a good job of enriching this style of game and with luck will continue to be built upon in future games. Ultimately, MT left me wanting more. That isn't a bad thing. In spite of my picky complaints, I want to spend more time digging up secrets in Arkham, and with luck, 8th Summit Games will be able to continue providing new content as they have implied they wish to do for years to come.
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JASON MAXWELL
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Thanks for the nice review. You picked up on the thematics very well.

I should point out that the bolded text in case one does not create spoilers, since ALL locations and persons are bolded. The bold does not help in any way guide you through the mystery. You may have felt that they did aid you since the Case is an introductory case and easy.

Did you play all 8? Case 8 does have a grand conclusion and final "battle" scene, if you are able to wind your way to it.

Thanks for playing!
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Scott Sexton
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enditen wrote:
Thanks for the nice review. You picked up on the thematics very well.

I should point out that the bolded text in case one does not create spoilers, since ALL locations and persons are bolded. The bold does not help in any way guide you through the mystery. You may have felt that they did aid you since the Case is an introductory case and easy.

Did you play all 8? Case 8 does have a grand conclusion and final "battle" scene, if you are able to wind your way to it.

Thanks for playing!


Thank you for the game! I really do adore this little game and would gladly buy more content as soon as you print it!

I'll get the exact page/entry, but there is a spoiler in bold.

I don't want to get too spoilerly, but I would have wanted showdowns on the earlier cases too (my words were "There are encounters that hint that such a thing could have been possible, too ... " implying that you had already figured out how to make it work).

I don't want folks to think that I dislike the game. My "criticisms" are really just there to serve as warnings for folks who may be turned off by those things.

I can't wait to see what you have in store next!
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Just finished our first game with my girl friend. She's a gamer thanks to me, but she's never played anything like this. She loved it. We stayed up 90 minutes past our bedtime so we could finish the first case. We scored miserably, but we're eager to play it again.

Question? We looked at the questions and didn't well, so we avoid looking at the answers to the ones we didn't get. Do you recommend moving onto the next case, or taking another stab at it now? Just looking for the best way to maximize the games shelf life. Simply put, just keep it moving, and start over at the end, or keep trying until we can score high enough to move on. Thoughts?

Also, we definitely hope this sees more content. We're big fans of SMERSH, and my game group is big on Ace Detective, so 8th Summit is known for quality storytelling games in my circles. Ace Detective is already unofficially Mythos Detective, since we're big fans of the setting, so stories invariably turn into cases involving the Mythos, and the Silver Twilght almost always showing up
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Will Kenyon
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Hey. This is Will Kenyon. If you played through the first case and you didn't see some of the reveal, I think you SHOULD play it again to up your score. There's enough there. Just know that you're play time may be shorter (since you can skip some of the entries you've visited already).

Thanks for playing, and good luck!
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John
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Great review Scott! Looking forward to see MT arrive at my doorsteps!
And it pleases me that the developers are so active here to provide answers! Thanks Jason & Will!
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Dave Cain
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Hi Jason. I smohow missed the KS for this game despite being an avid Lovecraft fan. Is it still possible to pre-order a KS hardback copy for the EU or Am I too late?
 
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Jon
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woodelf_dave wrote:
Hi Jason. I smohow missed the KS for this game despite being an avid Lovecraft fan. Is it still possible to pre-order a KS hardback copy for the EU or Am I too late?


Well they still haven't sent any EU backer's copies, so you might well be able to pre-order.

I'd love to be able to make more comments on this review, but I'm still waiting for my copy. 8th Summit have washed their hands of it and Spiral Galaxy just keep lying about an update "next week" if they bother to communicate at all.

I'd definitely recommend Europeans think carefully before backing projects involving 8th Summit or Spiral Galaxy in the future.
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JASON MAXWELL
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HI Jon, we have far from washed our hands of this project. You and a few other EU recipients are grossly and unfairly misrepresenting the situation. In fact the games are still ahead of schedule.

The kickstarter page clearly states that estimated shipping date would be OCT 2016. We started shipping in September and Galaxy Spiral is trying to get their systems in order so they can start shipping. It's all in our updates on the kickstarter.

We have consistently posted updates. You can read them here if you are not sure where to find them.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/8thsummit/mythos-tales/...

I apologize if shipping has yet to start in the EU. But in this case the delay in the context of still being ahead of schedule.

And again we will state here: 8th Summit has an open full refund policy before the games ship. I understand frustrations happen on the consumer's end, so I invite anyone frustrated to please ask for a refund.

There's not more we can offer in a situation where the games are on time and we have an open refund policy before the games ship. If you are not happy that your product is delivered on time, with an open refund policy, then I would suggest we are not the publisher for you.


Thanks
Jason
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Jon
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enditen wrote:
HI Jon, we have far from washed our hands of this project. You and a few other EU recipients are grossly and unfairly misrepresenting the situation. In fact the games are still ahead of schedule.

The kickstarter page clearly states that estimated shipping date would be OCT 2016. We started shipping in September and Galaxy Spiral is trying to get their systems in order so they can start shipping. It's all in our updates on the kickstarter.

We have consistently posted updates. You can read them here if you are not sure where to find them.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/8thsummit/mythos-tales/...

I apologize if shipping has yet to start in the EU. But in this case the delay in the context of still being ahead of schedule.

And again we will state here: 8th Summit has an open full refund policy before the games ship. I understand frustrations happen on the consumer's end, so I invite anyone frustrated to please ask for a refund.

There's not more we can offer in a situation where the games are on time and we have an open refund policy before the games ship. If you are not happy that your product is delivered on time, with an open refund policy, then I would suggest we are not the publisher for you.


Thanks
Jason


It's interesting that you replied here, despite ignoring us all on the Kickstarter comments.

I'm fully aware that the original date was October. I'm quite happy with that. All I've been asking for is information. What we got from you was passing the buck to Spiral. What we got from Spiral was silence and refusal to reply to comments or emails. When they did finally respond (after US backers already had their copies) they kept promising more information next week, then silence again.

I backed this project not as a pre-order system but because I enjoyed the print and play cases and thought it was a game that deserved to be made. I don't mind delays. Some of the Kickstarter projects I've backed have never delivered, but the people behind them kept us informed and explained.

All I want is to be kept up to date. The lack of communication from Spiral is shady, especially with their unfulfilled promises of further updates. One update, when the US copies went out saying "EU backers, the shipment is delayed. You'll get yours in mid-October, just before Essen" would have be fine.

I view Kickstarter as a collaborative creative space. You obviously view it as a pre-order shop. Perhaps this is why we have such trouble understanding each other? You think that, so long as you deliver what was paid for on time then everything is grand. I want to feel excitement and anticipation, instead of the disappointment we get with each new non-update.
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Rich Dodgin
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I have to say that I agree with Jon.

On the 21st September I received a Kickstarter email from 8th Summit saying that Spiral Galaxy had told them "We expect work to complete over the weekend and to start contacting backers from Monday 26th September."

I've since heard nothing else - I've had no email from Spiral Galaxy, no update from 8th Summit via email, and no one from 8th Summit is responding to people's concerns on the kickstarter page.

So we've no idea what is going on, or when we are likely to receive our games - yet apparently copies of the game will be available at Essen.

Could someone from 8th Summit please contact Spiral Games, get an update from them, and then share that update with the EU backers? Such an update would help us all stop worrying and reduce our frustration at not knowing what's going on. Thank you.
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Jon
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They are also apparently charging us extra VAT on this supposedly "EU friendly" Kickstarter.
 
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Rich Dodgin
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I've just received my email from Spiral Galaxy and followed the link to their site to pay for shopping & VAT. The total cost was £10.05 which I am very happy with. Looking forward to getting my game sometime soon
 
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Donal Behal
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Got my ocpy yesterday, expecting first game tonight :-)
 
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Jorge B
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Just received it today, can't wait to try it out. Looks amazing.
I believe this was one of the first KS projects I've backed that actually delivered on time (what seems to be a great product). You are certainly to be commended for it.
Looking forward to hear about upcoming projects and expansions for this.
 
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ShotgunLove wrote:
Thoughts?


Run the game with another group of players! I found it fun and interesting to see how others tackled the same case. Keep the game mechanics hidden from the players as much as possible (ie. you keep track of the cards) to maximize the immersion (and sometimes confusion!). You can even play the interviewees the players interact with.
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