My first review! How exciting!
What can I say other than I am full on obsessed with this game? I've played two different playbooks in campaigns so far, and one in a oneshot. Heck, even at one point my character got sucked into a different dimension (a different The Between game run by the same keeper) and I dealt with mysteries my original team had already dealth with.... and even with the same mysteries nothing is the same! You would think a game with a set number of mysteries would have limited replayability but not with this system.
So this is a game that is based in Powered by the Apocalypse style play and PbtA games are generally not very crunchy. This game is not crunchy at all, but it has a huge amount of power behind it regardless (if lack of crunch makes you worry about lack of backbone or power!)
You have the Day Phase (where the players try and clear conditions/de-buffs by triggering certain Vulnerable Moves or find out more information about the mysteries, or really anything they want to do!). The Dusk Phase is mostly for mechanic reconciliation - some playbooks require rolls here before going into the Night Phase, like The American (who is a werewolf) who must roll to see how were-wolfy they will be in the Night. The Night Phase is where the only time players can resolve threats (the campaign goals) but choices are more risky and moves are more dangerous at night. The Dawn Phase is your reward for surviving the Night.
I love that you can choose light or heavy narrative play, especially the fact that the #1 rule is you cannot reveal backstory to anyone (not even the keeper) unless it's triggered by the game mechanisms. It adds a delicious layer of drama, very similar to a book or TV show.
The Carved from Brindlewood style of mystery solving was something that took me a session or two to get the hang of, as I'd never played anything like that before. Basically, the Keeper has a set of clues they will give the players when they manage to earn the clues, but the players are the ones that interpret them - there is no "campaign answer" to a mystery! A clue can appear in different games and have totally different meanings. It's highly effective because you can tie the clues not only into the mystery at hand, but into the greater story as well.
The playbooks are a LOT of fun - none of these people are "good" people by nature. And how could a good person operate in a place like Hargrave House anyway? You can, however, give your character solid story arcs very easily, even "questionable morality" to "good person". Or, if you prefer character light games, you can limit the dimensionality of your character. As long as you have a backstory it really doesn't matter! (Although it's MUCH more fun if you have an interesting backstory! Make a complicated character, you will have a good time with it!)
The Unscene is a fantastic element. During the Night Phase (which belongs to the Keeper) the players narrate pieces of a story happening in London that night that have nothing to do with the characters or mysteries at hand. However it has everything to do with building the tone, setting, and FEEL of the world you are operating in. The Unscene is the world building AND the timer for the Night Phase - when you as players can actually get things done. It gives the players agency over the world outside of their characters and that's not something that happens in most TTRPGs.
I could go on and on but I am not a writer or a critic (hence my lack of reviews!) but this game is really special and I can't wait to see what other people do with it!
LOL okay a quick edit: I just posted this and scrolled through previous reviews... and my Keeper has reviewed! Steph J! They said: "I keep running this game overtime, three hours quickly becomes four, and we've almost played to five".... but that is OUTDATED. Once we had a 9 hour session. It was amazing. I don't think a 9 hr session is the norm by any means for this game - just this group in this particular instance.... but, well, it was a long and bonkers session and I will never forget it because it was amazing :)