Crime Runners – Crime Stories Part 2: Beneath Vienna [Hivemind Review]

Crime Stories Part 2: Beneath Vienna is a point-and-click game created by Crime Runners in Vienna, Austria.

A set of 4 ropes with different numbers of knots hanging in a point & click interface.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: about 90 minutes

Price: €19.90 per team

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

We, a gang of “common criminals,” were continuing our quest for Simon Dickson’s gold after navigating his mansion in the prequel to this game, Back to the Congressman. This time, our search led us into a tunnel system, presumably “beneath Vienna.”

This is a pretty classic point-and-click game. Click to pick up and interact with objects and use them to solve puzzles. Up to four players connect to a single game. Any player can click on objects to explore and arrows to navigate between spaces. However, when one player clicks on something, everyone’s screen shows the result.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Beneath Vienna is a direct sequel to Crime Runners’ early pandemic offering Back to the Congressman, which I played and reviewed way back in May 2020. It plays very similarly to the original – a positive, because this is a good implementation of the point-and-click style, using very minimal pixel hunting. There were one or two short sequences where I found the navigation clunky, but overall playing this game felt intuitive. Crime Runners used plenty of sound cues; occasionally they were a few seconds too long, but I appreciated their presence. There were enough puzzles to keep me entertained and motivated for about an hour of solo play. There is a story here, but it’s not necessary to have played the first chapter of this game to understand what needs to be done in this new second part.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

In the early days of the pandemic, I appreciated Back to the Congressman as an approachable imitation of an escape room online. However, even then it was clear that its interaction mechanisms had limitations. I fear that some of Beneath Vienna’s ambitions exceeded what those mechanisms were designed to handle. General sluggishness of screen transitions made the repeated exploration of the game’s sprawling tunnel system tedious, and frequent drag-and-drop jigsaw-type puzzles regularly malfunctioned if multiple players tried to participate. Most frustrating, though, was the inability to explore and interact with the game individually without disrupting the rest of your team. The environment and the puzzles in this game begged to be divided and conquered, but all players were forced to view whatever other players clicked. I was more forgiving of this limitation in 2020 when I hadn’t seen many better implementations. Now, it feels outdated, and the multiplayer experience suffered for it.

On the bright side, the game did pick up pace in the second half with a denser amount of classic escape room puzzling, interesting story components, and a thrilling final segment. It also offered an above-average play time, which admittedly felt daunting during its tedious sections but paid off in its better moments. Ultimately, playing solo might be the best way to enjoy this game. However, if a team approaches it with appropriate expectations and probably a single navigator, it would still be a viable way to hang out from afar over puzzles. I just wouldn’t recommend it over the many smoother on-demand options available these days.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Beneath Vienna was a very playable point-and-click game. Puzzles were relatively clever and enjoyable. Unlike many similar games, the graphics were quite good and did not slow down the game at all. The theme created a sense of immersion and urgency. There was a lot to do in the game for me as a solo player – I am uncertain if that would hold with a larger group, but it worked for me. At times there was a lot of virtual running back and forth but the interface loaded each scene very quickly. Not a lot of amazing aha moments, but good solid adventure if you have a couple hours to play.

Disclosure: Crime Runners provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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