03 March 2017
Finally, a game where judging someone by their appearance is a good thing
There are some games that wear their offensive and controversial nature on their sleeve, such as Cards Against Humanity and its gasp- and giggle-inducing white answer cards. Then there are games that at first appear seemingly innocuous but slowly sneak in a guilty feeling that what you’re saying, thinking and doing is oh-so wrong – yet you can’t help yourself.
Unusual Suspects fits firmly in the second category. Arriving in a box filled with rudimentary components – three smallish decks of cards and a notepad – the game is initially pitched as a more advanced version of Guess Who?, with one silent witness answering yes/no interrogations to guide the remaining detectives towards the guilty thief hidden in a grid of 12 faces.
Only, unlike Guess Who?, the question cards don’t concern the suspects’ looks. At least, not explicitly. Instead, they concern habitual factors: do they eat fast food? Would they ride a bike to work? Do they like scary movies? The problem is you only have their mugshots to base the habits on. It’s a literal case of judging people by their appearance.
Yes, you do feel guilty every time you eliminate an innocent bystander because their rather more portly frame doesn’t fit the profile of the sports-crazed criminal, or when you nail the felon because their unkempt hairdo outlines them as a convention-dwelling dweeb. Still, the guilt is quickly overridden by the fun of coming up with increasingly detailed backstories for each of the textless character cards and the knowledge that – at least as a detective – you’re not the only morally corrupt individual in the room.
The only real knock against the set is its rather steep RRP for such a lean set of box contents – which would be partially solved by the removal of the essentially pointless notepad, which can be used to score games (but the matches move so quickly there’s little point). Yet with such a simple set of mechanics and components providing such a good time – even at the (temporary) cost of your ethics – it’s the definition of a guilty pleasure.
Publisher: Cranio Creations/CMON
Time: 20 minutes
This review originally appeared in the February issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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