Detective games

I remember us having similar issues with the early scenarios in the main campaign. The intent seems to be for you to cast a wide net first, before deciding which details to drill into (and there is enough time to allow for that). The other thing that was funny about the main campaign was that the game is very literal about what it’s asking the players to do in a scenario, and at least we had a tendency to forget about that and go off and try to solve something totally different.

Anyway, it sounds like Season One doesn’t have the campaign structure at all, and it’s just stand alone scenarios? The campaign was the one strength that Detective had as a game; everything else other games had already done better. I don’t understand why they thought that getting rid of the campaign would be a good idea.

This just released:

No campaign as far as I can tell, just 3 separate cases.

Even the “cast a wide net of surface leads instead of narrow net of deep leads” approach didn’t really work.

The above leads?

(edit: ack, spoiler tags not working for some reason? Skip to end for spoilers. You’ve been warned!)

Not since Police Quest 4 have I seen such a non-sensical breadcrumb trail of detective work. So…I’m supposed to go three steps deep into every seemingly unrelated lead with no apparent payoff? There’s no way you can cover everything with that approach before you run out of time. It boils down to blind luck of picking the correct lead right from the start.

Or…I honestly think a winning approach would be simply follow the dumbest looking leads first and ignore the logical ones real detectives would want to cover first.

Also, those “dig deeper” segments where you can spend your limited tokens to get more info out of a lead? I don’t remember a single one giving us useful information.

Okay, so you picked the single least relevant lead possible and chose to ask the FBI about his research. They tell you he was working on biometric tech to recognize fingerprints off of long dead tissue. Turns out he was secretly selling this government data to a smartphone company.

Do you now go follow up on:

-The smartphone company
-The mysterious package he received from the smartphone company the day of the murder
-Question his colleagues on his work
-The mob casino he had a large debt with. Presumable the data selling was to pay this off after they assaulted him in the parking lot.
-Go check out a break in at an art gallery across town from last week

If you picked anything but the last option, you have wasted your time on complete dead ends!

Jealous spouse? Spurned mistress? Gambling debts? Threats from the mob? Checking on that stuff is amateur hour shit. Columbo would know to blitzkrieg unrelated research followed up by an unrelated crime across town.

You have to individually spoiler tag every paragraph. It won’t carry tags across paragraph breaks.

Multiple paragraphs are fine, but for that the [spoiler] and [/spoiler] tags must be on their own lines.

So you’d do:



To get:




Backbone is on Game Pass. I’m pretty impressed. The puzzle solving outside of conversations is not too complicated, but it seems like the conversations actually have room for you to fail, and I’m really curious about whether I’m doing a good job. Starting Chapter 3 now.

I finished Backbone. I would say it’s a game about a detective but I’m not sure I’d call it a detective game. I’d have to play through a couple more times to find out to what extent the conversations and actions you do affect what happens afterward, though I know there was at least one point where I had figured out a password to get into a club but wasn’t able to use it because I’d pissed someone off. But although there’s some uncertainty around what exactly is happening, and you could miss some information that unlocks paths later, I don’t think there’s a way to avoid solving the case.

I enjoyed it. The end was not nearly what I expected (not from a detective-y angle, the game goes in a surprising direction generally.) It probably took about five or six hours and it was worth that.

Song of Farca

Weird that that’s releasing at the same time as a new Sherlock Holmes game where he’s a young man.

Okay, the Hunt a Killer series can officially go fuck itself.

The two standalone boxes sold at Target (Death at a Dive Bar, Death at a Motel) are o-kay. $30 for a decent hour of group fun with A+ production values meets a D+ to C+ mystery. Dive Bar was a bit iffy because we strongly suspected the correct killer after just 5 minutes.

But their subscription sets? The 6 box series at $30/box for a total of $180?


Tried Class of '98. We had a strong suspicion of the killer within the first 15 minutes. This turned out to be correct. It was disappointing when it happened with the 45-60 minute Dive Bar. It’s atrocious to happen in a $180 mega set that’s advertised as lasting 10-15 hours, which would excuse the price tag if it really kept a group entertained that long. It doesn’t. We finished it in 3, and at least 45 minutes was because we were backtracking wondering “The solution can’t be THIS easy, can it?” It can.

Also it gets simpler as it goes on, since every box you just have to eliminate a suspect so the list shrinks as you go on. Sometimes it is as wildly obvious as a time stamped security photograph of a suspect on the other side of town at the time of the murder. A grand total of 60 seconds to eliminate the suspect, another $30 box and month of waiting down?

Then Mallory Rock. I wanted to toss this in the garbage after the first box. It makes the same blunder that Detective did where it includes an online database element that should have just been in the physical components. Thing is, the entire appeal of Hunt a Killer is the high quality physical items. Not only do they shunt a bunch of stuff to the online database, they shunted everything there. Every single thing you needed to complete the first box objective was all exclusively in the online portion, the physical items being completely worthless. So everyone have fun handling the items while the person sitting alone in the corner on their laptop solves the whole thing solo.

Haven’t progressed much into the 2nd box yet, but we already got another strong vibe on who the killer is in the first 15 minutes. It’s not confirmed, but I’m fully prepared to be disappointed again. The one good thing I can say is that so far it’s not the “eliminate 1 suspect” structure of Class of '98.

Damn though, $180. Some of these boxes are really slim on content too (a cheap necklace, a small rock, and 10 sheets of paper = “that’ll be $30, please”). Only way it would be close to worth it is buying it used online, then immediately selling it for the same price when done so you’re just eating the shipping costs.

Bleh. Why is so hard to design a decent detective game? So far, I think the best one I’ve played in over a year has to be MicroMacro: Crime City (i.e. Where’s Richard Scarry’s Waldo?).


Does anyone have any recommendations for detective games that play well over voice chat with a group? I did Consulting Detective once like that - it is kind of a pain to scan a bunch of documents for everyone to use, but has been good fun once that work is completed.

I just saw an ad for this on Youtube and decided to check out the website. It reminds me of those Dennis Whatley(?) books from the 30’s I used to have. $25/month is a little pricey but it may be worth checking out.

Hunt A Killer - Murder Mystery Games

Does anyone have any experience with this?

Maybe a text adventure? The person playing the game could read aloud to the chat, let everyone work out possible solutions and key them in. Infocom had some fun detective games back in the day like Deadline, The Witness, Moonmist. Not sure how easy they are to find these days though, maybe on abandonware sites.

You might want to scroll up all of two posts above your own. :)

I know I searched for it.


Anyone try Murder Mystery Machine?

[1] -10% Murder Mystery Machine on

Written by “BAFTA award winning production company”