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?).