Flashback: Lucy Game Review

Onward and backward

Flashback: Lucy moves the storytelling series forward in maturity while looking backward at a new character’s storied past. Join Bob for a (mostly) spoiler-free review.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

As family boxes go, Flashback: Zombie Kidz was a load of fun. Building on the world and story of the similarly enjoyable Zombie Kidz Evolution, the mystery box breathed even more life into an already fantastic intellectual property. 

The team from Le Scorpion Masque is at it again, this time with an entirely new story, an entirely new heroine, and a few new tricks with Flashback: Lucy. This time around, we meet Lucy, a girl with strange powers who moves into an inherited family home with her father. But the home is riddled with a few dark secrets and a questionable past. Of course, this is all presented in cartoony goodness, attempting to create a balance suitable for nearly all ages—no small task.  

Baptiste Derrez and Marc-Antoine Doyon are back, this time with the help of Gabriel Durnerin for the game design. The team behind the artwork is also nearly the same, giving Flashback: Lucy a similar feel to its predecessor. Is there lightning in this bottle once again?

There sure is.

Spoiler-free zone

The Flashback series is built on a series of pictorial cards divided into narrative chapters. Each card represents the point of view of someone locked in a moment in time. Lucy, the story’s protagonist, receives just such a multi-faceted vision any time she touches an object present when a person disappears—a delightful ambiguity printed on the box as gamer bait. 

Players work through these cards as their numbers appear in the images. Each chapter begins with some sort of distressing moment from a particular point of view. Each subsequent card then summons several other images. Card one might spy someone (or something) with another view, shown via card eleven or card eight. This sort of switchery continues, unveiling questions the players aim to answer by the chapter’s end. 

Flashback: Lucy tosses in a wrinkle through the inclusion of a stack of Rune cards. Symbols appear throughout the story that point to specific mini-cards. Sometimes half a Rune appears that must be completed via another card, at which point the completed Rune is released. Some cards are available right away, while others rest under Lucy’s cat Greebo until the end of the chapter. 

The rulebook contains a comic book page introducing the chapters, immediately followed by a Rune card. From this point, it’s all in the slow revelation of cards and questions. Twenty to Thirty minutes later, players will have seen all the evidence and hopefully solved the case, teasing out the story in conversation and in response to the questions before checking answers and moving on. There are aesthetic and mechanical wrinkles in the box that, to be honest, I’d rather not talk about because they’re each worth their moments of discovery. 

Spoiler-light zone

For any parents out there, the following paragraphs might be worth reading if you have any questions or concerns about the mysterious secrets and dark and disturbing events depicted in Flashback: Lucy. I’ll not spoil the answers, but rather speak to some of the themes and imagery raised across the four chapters. If you’re not interested in these details, feel free to skip the remainder of this section. 

Lucy’s story deals primarily in the realm of witchcraft. Her visions take her to various moments in time that enmesh the house and her ancestral family. A menacing shadow has been taking individuals for centuries. Lucy is seeking the answer, and it comes largely through an exploration of the witches and witchcraft behind the trouble. The dual enemies presented throughout are the evil shadow and those who hunt and persecute the family for its witchcraft. 

That being said, there are a few pentagrams, ghosts, and spirits of varying significance in key moments. In one story, a corpse is exhumed (and depicted on one of the cards). There are several depictions of the shadow claiming its victims, though none are gory or gratuitous. The family has known trouble and there are potentially very real conversations waiting for inquisitive minds who are curious about witch hunts, etc. 

Spoiler-free zone, part II

Flashback: Lucy is another gem from Le Scorpion Masque. But even as I make that claim, I’ll pump the brakes to say it is a hefty departure from its Zombie Kidz forerunner. It is the sort of story that, were the illustration style less overtly disarming, could exhibit a far darker and more ominous tenor. My six- and ten-year-old were both delighted to see the box because they remember the joys of the first outing. My littlest lost interest in the story by chapter two because it plays above her head and the odd bits were “creepy.” By the end, my ten-year-old was saying some parts were weird (including one I mentioned above). When he cornered mom to talk about the game, the weird bits were the second thing he reported. 

The first thing my son reported, though, were the inventive choices employed by the design team to reveal bits of the story. Gone are the tools that gave Zombie Kidz some of its “wow” moments. In their place are a few new tricks that work equally well. In fact, I’ll say the clever choices are more pointed this time around, meaning there’s less aimless physical exploration. The trade-off creates a greater narrative heft. 

There are a few more story-driven questions in this box. Each chapter contains four to six questions that must be answered, and the questions require connecting dots. I think the dots are slightly farther apart in this second Flashback box, in keeping with the elevated narrative maturity. We were not perfect in our answers, but our sparse mistakes were always on the right track. Just remember you only get one shot at this, so we have to be content with our losses.

Overall, I continue to be impressed with this line of titles. The idea is gold and superbly executed. The quirks are inventive and memorable upon their discovery. Flashback: Lucy moves the maturity bar slightly while maintaining the aesthetic approachability of the original. The complexity is easily manageable, making these an ideal introduction to the mystery box genre. 

For families who have moved along with the earlier Zombie Kidz titles, Lucy assumes the little ones have grown up a bit and are ready for a storyline worthy of a bit of conversation. If the box is of interest, it’s definitely one to check out.

About the author

Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

On any given day, I am a husband and father of five. I read obsessively and, occasionally, I write stories of varying length, quality, and metrical structure. As often as possible, I enjoy sitting down to the table for a game with friends and family. I'm happy to trumpet Everdell, in all its charm and glory, as the insurmountable favorite of my collection.

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