The Detective Society: Season One, Episode Two

4.9 Overall
Component Quality
Puzzle Design
Game Experience
Users (0 votes) 0

The Detective Society: Season One, Episode Two

  • Played March 2021

  • 2 hours
  • 2-4 players
  • Subscriptions available

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The ERA team was very excited to play this installment of The Detective Society. We had all played the first game of Season One. As we were opening the box, we were all very excited and intrigued to continue the storyline and experience different and unique puzzles. This second installment was enjoyable to play. However, we found that the overall experience and engagement was very different from the first installment. With the game components, there was the traditional box with paper components inside. The paper quality (font, pictures, and paper type) did not seem as authentic as it could have been. For example, there were some photographs included that were printed on card stock, rather than being actual photographs. There was a lot of interaction needed with the paper throughout the game. A highlight for this game was the online components with websites to explore that were detailed, engaging, and required the player to search through information. There were some audio and visual elements included that could have been further refined to add to the game experience. Overall, we felt as though there was a good balance of paper and online use. We were surprised to find a USB in the game box. Although this was a unique component, there was no disclaimer on the box telling us that we would need a device to use that had a USB port. If someone wanted to play this game on their iPad, for example, it would not be feasible to do so. The contents of the USB were unique, but we felt as though they could have been added to a new website for the player to explore and search through because the websites created for this game are of good quality. We did find one website though, where the player had to interact with it using a phone, did not work and we had to look at the hint system to find the answer to this puzzle. Having played the first game, where there was a lot of interaction with different websites and email addresses, it was hard not to keep saying “Oh, remember in the first game that there was this component?” and wish that The Detective Society had brought in these previous elements back into their second game.

One of the major highlights from the previous installment was the immersion piece. We found playing this second installment that the immersion experience was not as engaging as it could have been. We felt disconnected from the exciting storyline we were expecting to continue. The puzzles seemed to require searching for numbers and did not necessarily drive the storyline further. As we continued to finish the puzzles, we felt that there was a lack of information explaining why the characters were doing the actions they were doing and we didn’t feel as though we understood where the storyline was going. We would have loved to see an engaging hook, or sense of urgency in an introduction letter, to get us back into the sense of sleuthing and urgency created for the player in the first installment. At the end, we felt as though the game was unfinished and rushed. This game would be a challenge for someone to play who has not played the first installment because the limited narrative was challenging for our players to follow, even though we’d all played the first installment.

When looking at the puzzle experience, we felt that rather than having puzzles to solve we were embarking on the repetitive mission of searching for numbers and information through various data and texts. We can appreciate the effort made to present these as logic puzzles, and the effort to create the immersive experience of being a detective searching for information. However, we felt that the overall effect created was that of a disjointed series of number and process-of-elimination puzzles that did not expand the storyline, nor culminate in a final puzzle task. The tasks added to that feeling of playing an unfinished and rushed game. A further challenge was that the player only knows if their answers are correct when they input all their answers for many of the puzzles at once into the website. We would love to see added a feature where the player can enter each answer as they come across it, and the addition of an audio or visual tool to show a part of the story narrative that connects to that puzzle.

Although we enjoyed playing this game, we did find ourselves comparing it quite a bit to the first installment and expressed how we wished that many of the elements from the first installment were included in this game too. The tasks were enjoyable, but we felt that they did not engage us in the storyline that we were so looking forward to continuing. We did enjoy the searching and sleuthing aspect as though we were a detective, but the repetitive searching for numbers through data and texts started to take away from the excitement of sleuthing. Overall, we found this game has the potential for further refinement with more audio/visual components and a variety of puzzles to help drive the storyline further. We look forward to playing the third episode of The Detective Society: Season One and we hope it can bring back that same sense of awe and excitement that we had in the first installment.

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