Jim Gordon has recruited you to investigate cases beyond the reach of the Gotham City Police Department. Do you have what it takes to solve crimes in a city where everybody lies?
What Is Batman: Everybody Lies?
Batman: Everybody Lies is a cooperative, narrative deduction game for 2-4 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 120-180 minutes to play. It’s technically soloable, but both Portal Games and I suggest playing with at least two people so that you can discuss the clues in the case. Batman: Everybody Lies is part of Portal Games’ Detective Investigation System of games. It has an MSRP of $50 and is currently available on Amazon or directly from the Portal Games webstore.
Batman: Everybody Lies was designed by Weronika Spyra and Ignacy Trzewiczek and published by Portal Games, with illustrations by Hanna Kuik and Maciej Simiński.
Batman: Everybody Lies Components
Here’s what you get:
- 4 Lead decks (85 cards total)
- 1 Scene deck (31 cards)
- 4 sets of Episode introductions
- 1 Investigative token
- 1 Location token
- 1 Game board
- 8 Location tiles
- 4 Character tiles
- 3 Access tokens
- 4 Character tokens
- 10 Evidence tokens
- 1 Map of Gotham City
Additionally, you will need some pens and paper to take notes and an internet-connected device to log into the game online.
The graphic design of the game has a nice, moody comic book style. I liked how the Location tiles are all cut at interesting angles, which helps illustrate that Gotham City isn’t exactly normal.
However, the game board, tokens, and tiles are all printed on fairly thin cardboard. These components aren’t used as much as in many other board games, so you don’t have to worry about wearing them out. Still, it’s always a welcome decision to go with thicker board, especially when you’ve got a game at this price point.
Similarly, the cards are also fairly thin cardstock with a smooth finish. But these cards aren’t meant to be shuffled or dealt, but pulled out of the deck and read when required.
There are four different playable characters. Each of them has special abilities, both to help fellow players and to progress their personal stories. If you aren’t playing with 4 players, then any unused characters can be turned to their “Informant” side, so that players can still make use of their abilities to help other players. And as you can see, none of them are Batman.
There’s an included map of Gotham City, but I found this to be of little utility when playing the game. It seems to exist mostly for the immersion factor.
I want to give props to the box insert. While there aren’t a ton of components in the game, the insert still keeps them organized neatly. Plus, it’s got a bat signal!
How to Play Batman: Everybody Lies
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to follow leads and solve each case as soon as possible.
Place the Game board in the middle of the area, with the Investigation token on the intro space of the Investigation track.
Place the City Hall, Gotham City Gazette, G.C.P.D. Headquarter, and Downtown Location tiles on their appropriate areas on the Game board. Place the rest of the Location tiles, as well as Character, Access, and Evidence tokens, near the Game board.
Each player chooses and takes a Character tile. Unchosen characters are placed on their Informant side nearby.
Place the Lead deck for your chosen case, with the title card on the top, near the Game board.
Place the Personal Goal deck and Scene Deck, also with their title cards on the top, near the Game board.
Gather a pen and paper for taking notes. Log into the game website and choose the episode you’re about to play.
Open the envelope for the episode. If the episode contains character introductions, those are read privately by the players. After those are read, then the episode introduction is read out loud to everyone, and any orders given in the introduction are followed.
Note: there will be some very mild spoilers to follow for the Prologue case, which is a shorter episode designed to be a warm-up to the other three cases included in the game.
To play Batman: Everybody Lies, everyone will work together to follow Leads.
Choose a Lead to resolve from the “Further Leads” available to you on the Lead card.
Pay any associated cost required by the Location, flip the Location tile, and move the Location token to the associated Location on the Game Board. Advance the Investigation token by one space on the Investigation track.
Carefully looking at just the numbers in the Lead deck, remove the indicated card from the deck, and read the text aloud to all the players. Follow all of the Orders given on the card.
- Flip: Turn the card over and continue reading on the other side of the card.
- Gain: Immediately gain the indicated Scene card from the Scene deck or the indicated amount of evidence tokens.
- Read: Log in to the website and enter the indicated number to access the information.
Write down any further Leads you have access to, and then place the Lead card near the Game board for future reference.
At any time, you may also move the Investigation token 1 space on the Game board to gain 2 Investigation tokens.
Note: Some Further Leads to pursue are character-specific and tied to that individual character’s personal goal. One of the players must be playing that character to pursue those Leads. The Character Leads are drawn from the Personal Goals deck.
When the Investigation token reaches the Green “9” space, players should pause and discuss the case. From this point forward, the players can choose to end their investigation. The sooner you halt the investigation, the better your performance rating will be.
When you choose to end your investigation, you will complete your Final Report to Jim Gordon. Choose the “Final Report” option from the menu on the website, and then answer all the questions that you are presented with there regarding your Goals in the case.
You will be asked about the Episode’s main goal, as well as each character’s personal goals. Correct answers will increase your score. You will then receive a breakdown of your score and a review of the Episode.
Why You Should Play Batman: Everybody Lies
This is the second game in the Detective Investigation System that I’ve played, the first being Dune: House Secrets. Of these two, Batman: Everybody Lies is a more natural fit for the gameplay. Working under the auspices of Gotham City’s head cop Jim Gordon, you’re actively pursuing cases with comic book trappings.
If you have familiarity with Batman comics, you know that Bruce Wayne is much more of a detective than you usually see in the movies. As a matter of fact, Batman is supposed to be on par with Sherlock Holmes for his deductive capabilities. And with him being so brilliant in the comics, it’s a wise choice that you can’t choose to play as him. That doesn’t mean he’s absent from the game; after all, his name is right in the title! Instead, there are several opportunities in the different Episodes to get Batman’s help in pursuing Leads.
The online component for Batman: Everybody Lies can be a bit hit or miss. Occasionally, you’ll enter the code at the website, and then be presented with something that would have been easier to just have printed on a card. However, I really enjoyed the frequent times that I would be pursuing a Lead at the Gotham City Gazette and be looking at old microfilm. Whenever you get this sort of file, it’s accompanied by a small animation, as if you were locating the article on the microfilm. To read the whole thing, you would then have to use the navigation arrows to move around the document, as if you were using a microfilm reader.
This use of the online component is highly immersive, and the best use of the format. I would love to see future Detective games go even further with this. Have voice actors record dialogue when there’s a voicemail to listen to, or have there be actual video surveillance filmed.
If you enjoy narrative games, then this is definitely a title you’ll want to consider. There’s a lot of story to be found, from the Lead and Personal Goal decks and from the online files. The Scene cards, which look like panels from comic books, largely add to the comic book nature of the game.
With so much information getting thrown at you, taking notes as the rulebook suggests is paramount. Cases will have multiple Leads, and you may find yourself going down a captivating rabbit hole, pursuing a Lead that’s interesting but ultimately a dead end. If you want to score well, you’ll have to pay close attention to the clues that are given and resist the temptation to follow some of those juicy leads that end up going nowhere. The more Leads you pursue, the more the clock ticks down on an investigation. But if you’re enjoying the investigative process and don’t care about how fast you can solve a case, there are a lot of captivating storylines and wryly humorous dialogue to uncover in Batman: Everybody Lies.
For more information head to the Portal Games website.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.