Flashback: Zombie Kidz – Memory Mysteries
Flashback: Zombie Kidz is a new kind of adventure in the Zombie Kidz universe, by Baptiste Derrez and Marc-Antoine Doyon. It’s published by Scorpion Masque and distributed in the USA by Hachette Games.
Any number of players can work together to examine the Memories and solve mysteries.
How to Play
Flashback: Zombie Kidz is a bit different from previous entries in this franchise. This game has no turns or rounds – everyone looks for clues and reveals cards until you’re ready to solve the mysteries of your current Memory.
Open up the box and read the introduction in the rulebook. Pull out all the large yellow-backed cards for Memory 1, and keep the small and large Special cards nearby.
Flip over the first Memory card and start figuring out what’s happening.
When you see a number with an indicator line, that’s a “point of view”. Reveal the Memory card with the corresponding number to see the same moment in time through someone else’s eyes.
Numbers with a question mark or a tool symbol indicate a small Special card that you should flip. Question cards ask you questions that you’ll need to answer to solve the mystery at the end of the Memory. Read them out loud and start discussing possible answers.
Tool cards give you access to Gizmos, used in specific ways to reveal large Special cards. And large Special cards will give even more information about a given scene.
When you’ve flipped over all the cards related to a Memory (including all the special cards), you have all the information you need to answer the Mystery questions. Re-read the questions and decide on your team’s answer – then check it against the solutions at the back of the rulebook. Tick off your right answers, and get ready to move on to the next Memory.
There are three Memories in the game – but once you’ve solved them all, you unlock the Mystery Booklet. New tasks encourage you to go back through each Memory to find new details, in order to solve one final mystery.
Can you help the kidz thwart the zombies’ plan? You’ll find a few secrets along the way!
Flashback: Zombie Kidz is a sort of sequel to Zombie Kidz: Evolution, my kids’ favorite game. It’s the same kidz, the same zombies, the same school. It promised to be a great family activity: a series of mysteries to solve, set in a universe we already love.
But after playing through the first Memory, the kids didn’t want to play another one. As far as they were concerned, it was too much time invested for too little payoff. Thankfully, the game is free-form enough that I could play it on my own, and the kids were able to jump back in when they wanted.
Fun and Fanciful Art
The art is wonderfully detailed, expanding on the Zombie Kidz world in interesting ways. As with other Zombie Kidz games, there’s nothing gory or scary here. The zombies scheme for world domination, and the kidz try to stop them – but without any direct violence. The action is limited to zany antics involving traps, giant vegetables, and strawberry jam; it’s entirely appropriate for kids age 7+.
The illustrations tell a story (or several mini-stories), with very few words. Going back to examine details helped me to appreciate all the various characters.
Some cards give so many details that it’s easy to overlook the important clues. This seems to be by design. You’ll also want to go back and examine the cards again once you’ve opened the mystery booklet.
I also struggled to remember that blue and green skin tones always indicated a character was a zombie (and therefore a bad guy). They don’t act like zombies in other games – these zombies are smart, scheming, and full of personality.
Gizmos and Gadgets
Like many escape room and mystery-solving games, we often needed to use tools (called “Gizmos”) to go back and find more information in a scene. Sometimes the use of the Gizmos felt clever, with just enough information to point us to what we needed. But other times, it really didn’t give any more information than we had already discovered.
This seems to be a common failing in constructed mystery games – the designer can’t tell which puzzles will be easy to solve and which might need more help. Flashback: Zombie Kids actually does a better job than most “kids mystery” games. Kids will be able to spot most of the important details, without the game handing over too much information too soon.
Flashback: Zombie Kids is not intended to be played over and over again. It’s a mystery to solve, and after you’ve solved it all, you’ll be done. This will take anywhere from 2-6 hours over multiple sessions, depending on your family and how much time you spend on the details. The box says 30 minutes (per session) but most of our plays took longer.
When you’re all done, you could package it all back up to let a different kid try it, but part of the fun of the “mystery booklet” is going back and changing things as you look for different details in the Memories.
Perhaps the most striking thing is just how different Flashback: Zombie Kidz feels from previous entries in the series. This is perfectly fine, as long as you expect that. Our kids loved the tower defense and legacy aspects of Zombie Kidz: Evolution and Zombie Teenz: Evolution, and those elements just aren’t present here.
That doesn’t make it a bad game, but it didn’t meet our kids’ expectations, so they lost interest. As I mentioned above, this is a game (like Suspects) where players can drop in and out. Even though examining every detail felt “too long”, they could come over to the table and interpret the story on the cards.
I personally found that the third Memory was the least satisfying to solve, but I did enjoy the mystery booklet with its completely different set of challenges.
The story is best played with the same group from start to finish, as each Memory builds on what came before. I recommend it for families to play together when you’re ready to spend at least 30 minutes unfolding the stories hidden within the cards.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Flashback: Zombie Kidz from Hachette Games for this review.
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Flashback: Zombie Kidz
Age Range: 7+
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: at least 30 minutes per session