WBG Score: 7/10
Player Count: 3-8
Published by: IELLO
Remember those Where’s Wally/Waldo (delete as appropriate) books you used to read? If you have played, when trying Micro Macro for the first time, do you think how this is such a good idea for a game, why aren’t there more like it? Well, here you go!
Last Message sets players as either detective, victim or criminal. Your choice! (Hence the minimum of three players required). You need at least one player for each role. But you can have multiple Detectives if you have more players. In the box is six very busy looking scenes. All from a very different looking landscape, and designed by a variety of very talented artists. Including Vincent Dutrait, artist for Robinson Crusoe and Lewis and Clark and Stéphane Escapa who was the artist on Slide Quest and Maki Stack amongst others. The criminal and victim will sit one side of a provided screen, the remaining players, all playing as the detectives will sit the other side.
Once one of the incredibly hectic scenes has been chosen, the player playing as the victim will chose one of the many characters to represent themself and places a small magnifying glass token over the image on the picture on their side of the table. This lets the player acting as the criminal know who they have attacked. The victim will then have 30 seconds to send a message to the detectives, writing or drawing onto a three-by-three grid. They can draw, write messages, whatever they like really. There are some rules around repetition, but largely you can do what you like. “I am the large red man in the middle of the picture, sat on the building. I have black shoes and am next to another man wearing green.” Then draw a picture of that. Seems pretty easy right?
The Criminal acts as timekeeper, screaming stop the second the last grain of sand drops. They can then enact their main power! The Criminal, in an attempt to get away with their devious crime, will then delete five of the nine sections of clues before handing it to the Detectives. This will often leave pretty much nothing to look at in round one. The Detectives will often have very little to go on and may feel at a loss as to however they will be able to determine who the Victim is. Their only job, and how they will win the game for them and the Victim. But fear not. There are four rounds, and in each round, the criminal has less opportunity to intercept the message. With only four grids being removed in round two, three in round three and two being taken away in round four.
What I have found is that most games are won by the Detectives and the Victim in round three. The rules offer variations if it starts to get too easy this way. You can allow the Criminal to erase one extra space per round, which is a good idea for rounds three and four, but just makes round one and two largely redundant. You can say it has to be drawings only instead of text, which is a good idea for younger players anyway. Or finally, you can ask the Victim to pick a weapon instead of a character. A much smaller, and harder thing to find. But what I found is it is quite nice to win the game! It’s nice to have a game that is quick and relatively easy to win, but still gives you that endorphin rush when you spot the right character. I don’t see this as a negative. And as a largely co-operative experience, why not share that feeling of victory over and over? However, if you want to make it harder, and give the Victim more of a chance to win, the option is there and it works well this way too.
Overall, the game feels unique. The idea has been seen before, but this mechanic of the Victim and Detective against the Criminal with the partial information that you can pass between players is new to me. And it feels fresh and entertaining. This game works well with families, or in a party situation, and is a perfect quick filler game before or after a heavier game. It is rules light and low pressure for a party game. The game is a great way to ease people into a game’s afternoon or evening. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys looking at the busy scenes of Micro Macro and trying to spot the hidden messages and is looking for another game offering a similar experience.