Note: I don’t usually post standalone reviews of games in JB, but I thought this Crime Scene case deserved its own post.
Their description: In Fortune Apartment lives a single 48 year old rich man called “Landlord Shi”. He has a strange personality and a bad temper, and all his tenants dislike him. Even weirder is that the 7th floor of Fortune Apartment is a restricted area, none of the tenants are allowed to go up there. However, one day, Landlord Shi was found dead lying in a pool of blood, someone had given him a heavy strike on the head. The 5 tenants in the apartment immediately became the top suspects. Was this an accident or a planned murder? Visit the scene of the crime, it is up to you to find the real killer. A forbidden storeroom, and a bizarre murder mystery. The real killer is among you…
If, like me, you enjoyed Xcape’s Shanghai 1943 roleplaying murder mystery game and wish there were more such cases available, then you absolutely need to visit LOST in JB’s Crime Scene branch to play The Tenants Upstairs.
LOST in JB collaborated with Xcape on the Shanghai 1943 case, and both games draw upon the format of Korean murder mystery reality gameshow Crime Scene (as well as its Chinese adaptation 明星大侦探). [For a description of the game structure, please check out my Shanghai 1943 review; if you’re based in Singapore then you might as well play that game first before going up to JB!]
The only real structural difference in the JB version is that the suspects’ timelines are stated by the gamemaster rather than the suspects themselves; they are also provided in black-and-white to the detective. I found this slightly unsatisfying, as it potentially limits the murderer’s scope for lying, but it’s a minor flaw.
So, the game structure is a huge draw in its own right. What about the case itself? I personally found The Tenants Upstairs even better than Shanghai 1943, due to its clever use of evidence.
Admittedly, given the setting, the costumes are less elaborate and the set more pedestrian than Shanghai 1943. However, the set boasts greater verisimilitude and more of a “lived-in” feel, which also made the evidence feel more naturally integrated into each room.
As for the plot, the character storylines aren’t interwoven as densely as in Shanghai 1943, and some tenants have more satisfying storylines and motives than others — but on the whole, there’s nothing to complain about on this front.
In any case, the greatest strength of The Tenants Upstairs is its use of evidence. Firstly, you have to do more to access some evidence than in Shanghai 1943 (which also makes it truer to the Korean Crime Scene/明星大侦探 experience). Secondly, the evidence is sometimes used very subtly and cleverly; you have to really think about the significance of certain items.
Indeed, for me, the highlight of The Tenants Upstairs was its incredibly clever use of certain decisive pieces of evidence. We didn’t manage to draw those links, so we were completely blown away by the reveal video. Yet rest assured that even without those specific inferences, it’s entirely possible to capture the murderer.
LOST in JB’s The Tenants Upstairs is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and well worth the trip up to Johor Bahru. Not just because it’s the only other game of its kind besides Shanghai 1943, but also because it’s an engaging, well-crafted mystery that keeps surprising you all the way till the full reveal.
If you’ve played Shanghai 1943 and liked it, you have to play The Tenants Upstairs.
If you’ve played Shanghai 1943 and didn’t quite like it, you might still enjoy The Tenants Upstairs.
If you haven’t played Shanghai 1943, go and play it first!!!
While you’re at it, do check out the Korean and Chinese versions of Crime Scene — they’re both well worth a watch.
(Despite the extensive use of Chinese on LOST in JB’s Crime Scene Facebook page, rest assured that the case is presented fluently in both English and Chinese; my English-reliant team faced no issues.)
Case difficulty: 4/5
Case logic: 4/5
Atmosphere and setting: 4/5
Storyline integration: 5/5
Their suggested number of players: 6 to 7
My suggested number of players: 6 to 7