X-Files: Circle of Truth

X-Files: Circle of Truth

The tiny wallet that contains the game from Buttonshy

Remember the TV show The X-Files?

It was a great mix of sci-fi and horror and took risks in storytelling that really opened the door for what we have in sci-fi and horror TV today. It even adapted as cast came and went and whilst every season wasn’t a hit, it mostly was intriguing and a good watch…

… and to say I had a crush on Dana Scully is an understatement.

The puzzling, investigative nature of the show lends itself wonderfully to board game mechanics, as investigation and puzzles are the cornerstone mechanics of many popular games. From RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, to solo games like Rush Hour, these are the mechanics that can enthral any number of players!

This means that several games have been based on the show, and this one, X-Files: Circle of Truth is a re-skinning of a puzzle game for two players from Buttonshy called Circle the Wagons. Buttonshy are known for ‘wallet games’; cheap, small number of player games that usually have very few pieces, this game has 18 cards and two player ID cards, but contain fun, or at least interesting distractions that only take 15 to 30 minutes to play.

Our heroic duo!

X-Files: Circle of Truth sees two players choose whether they want to be Mulder or Scully, each character has a different advantage that doesn’t make much difference at the beginning of the game so the choice is has little relevance until the game starts to play, but you should still keep your advantage in your mind while you select cards.

The other 18 cards have ‘cases’ on one side and 4 images of aliens, microscopes, guns and other things the FBI would use, on a variety of backgrounds representing ‘places’, like fields, sewers etc, and the game set up sees three cases picked for the middle of the table, and the other 15 cards placed with the 4 images facing up in a circle around them (‘Circle’ of Truth… see?).

The point of the game is to have the most points and points can be achieved in several ways. The first is by scoring the most amount of a particular location, for example, you would get 4 points if you have 4 sewer cards connection, but none for any other sewers. The cards with the 4 images on them are taken by the players and placed in front of them, and can be partially laid over each other in an attempt to make larger areas of the same location. The trick with the accumulation of these cards is that it’s taken in clockwise order.

A game in play.

The play is started in one position chosen by the second player, but if the first player particularly wants a card two cards away from the starting position, the first player gets the cards in between, creating a personal ‘map’ by laying the cards as mentioned above.

The other way to get points is if one of the mission cards in the middle of the circle in achieved, which could be if you have UFO logos in a row, or getting bonus points for any 4 files attached corner to corner in a square.

The game is quite fun, and quick to play. The Buttonshy games are clever in their tiny size with big gameplay execution, but I think that sometimes the cleverness is the selling point rather than the actual gameplay. This game is fun, sure, but the fact it’s a reskinned cowboy game means that other than the iconography, it’s not very thematic as an X-Files game.

Also, considering it’s a extremely portable game, it takes up a lot of room on a table, so it’s not very suitable as a game one might take to the pub. There are certainly games that are more fun that take up less room that are more thematic to their theme. Love Letter is the perfect example of a small game that alters its gameplay slightly to adhere to the theme of its reskinning, like the Thanos or Star Wars versions.

To summarise, I do like the game, but it’s theme is tacked on and for a ‘little’ game, it takes up a lot of space.

Score: ***

Mindhunters (2004) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Mindhunters (2004)

Mindhunters DVD cover


Film: My favourite TV shows, post X-Files, have always been those ones that hunt serial killers and that sort of stuff. Sure, I can occasionally be found watching Rick and Morty or Pokèmon or Doctor Who, but those that I really get into are police procedural ones. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy them.

Criminal Minds is a particular favourite.

This trickles over to films as well, and I am guessing my love of gialli echoes that fandom as well. That whodunnit aspect of the film where you yourself get involved in the policework as you try to outsmart the detective by coming to your conclusion first.

Mindhunters is an interesting choice as it was an attempt by Renny Harlin to do a cinema version of those TV shows that were super popular at that time, but what he did was mix it up with a bunch of well known faces, like Val Kilmer, LL Cool J (who went on to NCIS Los Angeles) and Christian Slater along with several newer faces such as Kathryn Morris (who went into Cold Case), Patricia Velasquez and Clifton Collins Jr.

Val Kilmer eats cake: no one is surprised.


Mindhunters tells of a group of young FBI agents who are training to become profilers. Part of their training is to be taken to an island called Omega Island, by their trainer Jake Harris (Kilmer) to profile a fake serial killer who has committed a fake crime. Along for the ride is a cop (LL Cool J) who is observing Harris’ training methods.

Unfortunately for our crew, there is a real serial killer on the island, one who is slowly picking them off one by one, but has someone snuck on the island to perform these murders, or is Harris a nutbag killer himself, or is it one of the students with some kind of grudge?

Even though it doesn’t really read as a super film, and more a direct to DVD loser, I actually really dig this film, but as I stated earlier, that’s mainly due to my love of police procedural shows. It’s an eclectic cast who shouldn’t work together really, but that adds to the suspicion and mistrust.

Kilmer and Slater are really only here for the cache their names provide, and don’t appear for great periods of time.

L to R: Morris, Velasquez, Collins Jr, LL Cool J and Miller


Essentially this film is nothing more than an 80s slasher, with a group of people trapped in a remote location with a killer on the lose, but the Saw-like traps, and oddball characters make it a far more interesting watch.
Score: ****

Mindhunters DVD menu screen


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian release region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 101 minutes and is presented in a pretty good 2.35:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: You would this a DTV film like this would not have many extras, but it does!

Director Renny Harlin gives us a pretty good commentary about the making of the film and various other aspects of this film, including actually FBI procedures. One thing I really like about this commentary is that the dialogue of the film is subtitled during the commentary so you can still follow the script whilst Harlin is making his musings.

Profiling Mindhunters is a collection of interviews with cast and crew about what it rook to create the film.

Stunt Sequence looks at the behind the scenes choreography of the stunts, focusing on one particular scene that had an extensive fight sequence.

A Director’s Walk Through Crimetown sees Harlin look at the mock up town used in the film as the training ground for the young FBI trainees. 

There are also trailers on this disc for The Longest Yard, Layer Came, The Marksman and xXx: The Next Level.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s not the greatest film but it’s compelling, and I give it a regular respin.

Slater’s performance? Smashing!