RATING: 4 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 5:23
Every family has its secrets. Luckily, we happen to be pretty good at finding them by now!
You’ve been hired to investigate the murder of Allister Crane, a successful businessman and Father. Scour the evidence and clues to unlock the truth behind his death. Was it his greedy children? Or a member of the doting staff? This mystery is filled with twists and turns that will surely keep you guessing til the very end! Solving his murder will be your key to Excape.
It’s always great to see a venue that places its story as the focal point of their rooms. Murder! Mystery! is a prime example of how to make a room revolve around your plot rather than the other way around. The game starts out innocently enough as you arrive and receive a folder detailing your investigation and the (seemingly) normal life of Allister Crane. However, not everything is as it seems.
As you go about the usual business of solving puzzles and finding keys or codes, you’ll also find pieces of information related to Allister’s many family members; all suspects in the investigation. The Crane family is, of course, not without their secrets, and the story only gets darker and more complicated as you go. Solving the murder is, of course, integral to the game, and you’ll need to deduce the culprit and their motive before you can truly say you’ve escaped.
At this point in my Escape Room career, I am always wary of games that are set in any sort of office or study. At least in my experience, it’s become almost standard practice for businesses to use these themes as an excuse to pull off minimal scenic design and, quite honestly, I’m getting very tired of plain white walls.
Murder! Mystery!, on the other hand, sets an example for the industry on how to properly theme a study. Some beautiful pieces of furniture adorn the room, including a china cabinet, desk, bookshelf, reclining chair and fireplace (complete with stokers, I might add; a very nice touch that did not go unnoticed). Much to my delight as well, every wall is painted to fit the room… Including later on in the game, where things take a rather dark turn!
Though that’s not to say that there can’t be some lighthearted humor even among the most macabre of plots. The creativity of the owners is showcased in some truly clever Easter eggs that are hidden throughout the room; let’s just say that the little house on the wall doesn’t look quite so cute when a different light source is used on it. It’s little things like this that take a room from “good” to “great”!
Of course, that’s not the say that everything here is perfect. There is always room for improvement, and in this case there are some pieces of decor in the room that quite simply do not fit, and while they are used for one of the more enjoyable puzzles, they perhaps could (and should) be hidden away in less accessible locations so as not to spoil a player’s first impression upon walking into the space.
From the very beginning of the game, Murder! Mystery! makes you feel like an actual investigator. You’ll be looking at the crime scene, digging through Allister’s trash and cracking passwords and lock combinations that feel like Allister himself set them.
Murder! Mystery! uses a healthy mix of physical challenges and key and number locks, even throwing in a good dose of tech that doesn’t feel forced in the game’s setting. Better yet, every puzzle lends itself to the theme of the room (including some of the suspects in Allister’s murder), enhancing the already excellently told story that presents itself as you collect clues.
The final puzzle of the room is certainly the highlight and, although your final escape is still input using a four digit number, the way in which you acquire that password by solving the mystery is quite brilliant. It’s this combination of story and puzzle that truly makes Murder Mystery shine!
Murder! Mystery! sets a clear example to similarly themed rooms on how to tie your puzzles and story together. At no point during my game did I feel like I was solving a puzzle for the sake of solving a puzzle. Indeed, the only thing that could have made me feel more like a detective solving the crime of the century would be my own personal magnifying glass. Speaking of which, when do I get mine? It seems like I’ve solved enough murders by now.
Everything in this room blends perfectly together to make for an incredibly rewarding experience. The story, while certainly complex, makes clear sense when you think about all of the clues you’re given over the course of the game. The progression feels natural and helps build the intrigue surrounding Allister’s fate right up until you solve the crime.
It was truly a privilege getting to play a room so far away from my home base in Orlando! It was quite refreshing to see that a family-run Escape Room like Excape Games could still deliver a quality product, and one that is actually superior to some of the big-budget rooms that can be found in Florida. It’s very clear that the owners are enthusiasts of the genre, as evidenced by their clear commitment to telling a quality story not only on paper, but through their sets and puzzles as well! Excape Games is certainly a venue worth checking out, and one worth watching in the future as they learn and grow with the industry!
Venue: Excape Games
Location: Livonia, Michigan
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person