$35.00
Ryan Valdez
United States
Sugar Land
Texas
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I haven't seen any reviews for the game yet, so I figured I'd quickly type one up. Also, it's my first review, so here goes nothing! Below are my personal opinions based on my playthroughs with friends. Your experience and opinions may vary.

Crimson Creek is a game that is made to emulate a typical horror slasher film. You and 1 to 5 others come to Crimson Creek, not realizing the spirit of a killer, Klein, has possessed one person. Now you have to survive the night and deduce the killer using your detective skills and reliance on others. IE, DON'T DIE AND TRUST NO ONE.

COMPONENTS
To start, the tin box nicely fits all the components needed to play the game in as compact a form as possible. The character coins feel very high-quality and extremely durable, as well as the location and clue envelopes. Set up and player action references are included to help with move the game along, and location cards are big enough to really create a good sized map that everyone can see. Cards feel fairly higher end as well, and the artwork looks very well done.

The only issues I have are that, since this game is heavy on note-taking (unless you have REALLY good memory) it would have been nice to have included some pencils and notepads. This has been addressed with the notes pdf under "Files" here at BGG, though it would have been nice to come with them in box. The other issue is that, there's now an updated rulebook, making the printed one that comes with the box less desirable, and the app that was advertised has not yet come out as of writing this review. It makes it feel like the game was not as polished or prepared as it could have been before Kickstarter production.
8/10

THEME / FEEL
From the artwork to the gameplay, everything definitely makes you feel like you're in a slasher film trying to survive. You feel like a protagonist that's just trying to make it out alive. Supporting characters also play a role too. You know how in films, there's always those people that don't really connect with you, and they're just there more as fillers than protagonists that you WANT to survive? That same feeling can be felt here too. The artwork is creepy and scary, and exposure tracker going up makes you feel more and more scared of getting attacked. Knowing that there may or may not be a traitor among the team definitely doesn't help either. This, by far, is the game's strongest characteristic, and I'll explain a little more in the gameplay section below.
10/10

GAMEPLAY
- SUMMARY / PROS
Without going into too much detail, the objective of the game is to survive the three acts, then correctly guess who the traitor is. Within an act, certain locations will get attacked as the game progresses, and whoever is on the location dies. Each act has 3 possible attacks, with the 3rd one being more deadly plus less avoidable. You can end an act early by correctly guessing the traitor's Lair, and you can do this by "peeking" at locations to see what ISN'T the Lair, then "share" this information with each other. You can also "search" and try to see what the two clues are that identify the traitor, which is also shareable via "share". If you survive all three acts AND you aren't the traitor AND you correctly deduce the traitor, you win. The exception is if you find out you are the traitor, in which you're trying to have all other players killed before the end of the 3rd act AND survive. This is the game in a nutshell, but check out other resources if you need more detail!

What makes the game fun is just this ever pervading sense of fear and doom. You KNOW you're going to get attacked, and you KNOW that unless you start using your detective skills, you can potentially die. The other thing is that there's no way you can peek at every location in time, and so you have to rely on others and their information. But what if they're the traitor? They could be lying to you. But you'll never know! What if you're the traitor? Time to start lying to people. Problem solving comes into effect too in acts 2 and 3, when there isn't always enough space to move where you want to, and someone can potentially swap spots with you to put you in a bad or even deadly spot. The theme really plays out well here, and while it'll definitely take one play through to really figure out what's going on and how to win the game, it all quickly makes sense when you see someone die, even if it's just a supporting character.

- CONS
There are quite a few gripes I have, though. The two big ones are player elimination, and some nuances with the traitor. I'm not the biggest fan of player elimination because I typically love when games keep players engaged all the way to the very end, even if they might be losing. It gives a sense that they're still there interacting with us. In this game, after you're killed, you're essentially done, and it is very possible to be killed on the 1st of 3 acts. Granted, the recent rulebook lets killed players in act 1 takeover a supporting character and is like a second life, but if you're in a 6-player game, or are past act 1, you're out of luck if you die. This leaves killed players doing absolutely nothing as the surviving players continue trying to survive and deduce the traitor.

Additionally, it's relatively easy to figure out who the traitor is. Sure, players can share information on clues, but there's enough time and actions to "search" and for at least 2-3 people to figure out who the traitor is on their own, if they so choose. This is partially because "searching" doesn't advance the exposure tracker, and players can opt to take actions that don't expose, or just skip their turn entirely. Combined with the fact that the traitor is trying to survive just as much as the others are, the traitor is definitely going to have a rough time winning the game. At least, in the few games I've played, after two people see both sets of clues, it becomes a lot easier to believe them versus anyone else, and the traitor is just stuck.

And this is my biggest concern. This game heavily revolves around the idea that there's a potential traitor. If two or more people already have a good idea who the traitor is, find that the traitor was killed, or figure out there is no traitor in a 5-player or less game, then the game loses out on the theme, its biggest asset. It becomes more of a "players using detective skills to survive the game" type-game, losing out on the social deduction aspect. Don't get me wrong, it's still fun to survive to game's end, but there's less of a sense of fear because, well, there's no traitor to fear. It ends up feeling like it's just some spooky spirit randomly attacking locations to kill people.

This can be heavily mitigated if you've got a group of friends that's either very distrusting or very deceitful (aka, good liars) in games like this. Then it becomes harder to figure out who the traitor really is, if there is one. But there's just a lot of opportunity to figure it out on your own, and then just avoid that player's actions and attempts to lead you astray.
6/10

OVERALL
Summed up, Crimson Creek really pulls off the theme of fear and getting killed very well. As long as you stay alive, it'll keep you on your toes until the very end. Player elimination and the potential loss of social deduction may put a damper on the experience, if either of the two happen in any particular game. But that aside, it's a solid game, especially for the price, and I would definitely be playing this at least a few more times with friends.
7.5/10

SIDE NOTE: PLAYER COUNT
I found that the game works best with 3-5 players. 2 players lets you get through the "search" deck to find clues as to who the killer is, and leaves it feeling more like a detective game of survival. 6 players still feels fun, but it can sometimes drag from everyone having to take their turn. Plus there's a guarantee that there's a traitor. I find that there's more of a sense of confusion when there's 3-5 players, not guaranteeing that there is a traitor. That's just me though!
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Jonathan Vaca
United States
Oklahoma
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Not sure what phone you have but I have an iPhone and the app is available on there to take notes with. Just an FYI.
 
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Ryan Valdez
United States
Sugar Land
Texas
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Yeeeah, I have an Android, and as of two days ago, I definitely didn't see it in the Google Play store. Even then, I don't mind getting the app, but I don't want others to have to get the app unless they play a lot, so I'd still prefer the pen and paper haha.
 
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Greg Toystorian
United States
New Jersey
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The Android app is still in beta and available here...

https://app.box.com/s/uaccykevvoaan406lx1y0cy4hfm4sdgg

Please restart your device after you install the app.
 
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