The Scientist: A Challenging Murder Case

7.2 Overall
Component Quality
Puzzle Design
Game Experience
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The Scientist: A Challenging Murder Case

  • Played April 2021

  • 6+ hours
  • 1-4 players
  • $20

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The ERA team enjoyed this unique at-home puzzle book. When looking at the components, the player is given a puzzle book with four different cases inside. Considering the cost of this puzzle book, it is a great deal for all the hours of gameplay awaiting you! The introduction was a great way to set the scene: you and your team are detectives, and have four cases to solve. Are they connected? Is there one killer? Or multiple killers? We enjoyed that the puzzle book required a lot of interaction with the pages inside, which made the team feel as though we were playing an escape room at home. There were a variety of pictures, maps and ciphers to uncover. The components were designed in a very clever way to present the experience in a book format, rather than in a box! For being a paper based game, the number of visual pictures were great. There was not an inundation of reading. However, we felt that for a game that asks you to focus on the tiny details, we found that in many of the pictures there were some discrepancies when comparing them and they didn’t feel as authentic as they could have. We found that the instructions left us puzzled at times, because it was not clear where to start and we were not too sure which parts of the books we could use and not use right away. The hint system uses Google Forms, and we found that the hints were at times not explicit enough to help us move forward with the experience. We felt that some players might become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of paper and physical space needed to lay out everything for this experience. Overall though, the components were good with lots of visuals, but we would recommend that the instructions and layout of the book be revisited to make it clear for players where to start and what can or cannot be used right away.

This puzzle book created a very unique immersive experience. Although we were not surprised to experience the traditional “Welcome detectives, we need your help!” storyline, what we did like was the scene set for the players. Since the puzzle book is mainly visual clues, with minimal text, there was a lot of ambiguity around what the crime was, who the victim was and who even a suspect could be! This lack of information encouraged our team to have a lot of conversation together. We felt as though we were like detectives arriving at an actual crime scene – you are presented with visual clues and photos, but that is it! It is up to you and your team to use logical deduction, research, and conversation to drive the story forward. A huge challenge for sure, but a very realistic experience for what a detective would be doing! It was great to have so much of our time spent talking and discussing rather than reading through lots of paper to gather clues. This really helped us to focus on teamwork and collaboration.

Rather than traditional puzzles, this experience focuses on deduction, observation and research. The conversation you and your team have will drive the puzzle experience forward, although it is tough to check and see if your team is on the right path. A lot of the conversation is “I wonder if…”, followed by research and deductions together. This was a unique experience, but the lack of direction and specific puzzles could be overwhelming for some players new to the at-home puzzle-book genres.

We had a lot of fun with this experience. It was very unique and it was refreshing to have a paper book with minimal text and a focus on conversation and teamwork! We advise players though to be prepared to invest a lot of research and time with this experience. Even on the front cover, it says the time limit is “Infinity”. We would recommend this experience for two, maybe three players, however as the pages come out of the book a lot of space is required to use them all together. We hope you enjoy this unique immersive experience as much as we did.

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