Lille, Jun 2018
Our second game at John Doe had us on the trail of another missing agent, this time in the VIP lounge of a casino that might be a front for a nefarious drug gang. Your briefing instructs you that a particular celebrity is involved and you need to identify them from a list of possibilities.
Casino Magnifique is a very story-driven game, in that it’s divided into distinct stages with a clear objective for each. Identifying the celebrity is the goal for the largest section of the game, and turns a big part of it into a more sophisticated version of Guess Who, where you find clues to rule out one option after another until only one suspect remains. It gives it a distinctive feel, where you spend more time on information gathering and deduction and less on opening a sequence of locks. Your mileage may vary, but I found this the weaker part of the game. In the same way as a box that’s locked with multiple locks, this central puzzle had many puzzles that each resolved only a part of the whole, meaning the satisfaction of solving something was tempered by realising it didn’t give you anything new. Additionally we found room to question whether some of the clues really did rule out suspects in the way they seemed intended to, giving those parts a less crisp, clear-cut feeling than the other puzzles in the game.
Some of that is no doubt a matter of personal taste. I liked the other sections of the game rather more, including a large multi step cooperative puzzle that used a certain mechanic I often dislike, but which here was implemented clearly and effectively. What I admired most about the game though was the overall story progression. It successfully gets past simply being a room full of puzzles and gives you a mission with a series of objectives. For me, much of that immersion fizzled out as the middle game dragged and we got bogged down in uncertainty about how to interpret some of the clues; but even if fell short of its potential, the result was still a more interesting and story-led game than most.