RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Won REMAINING: 1:14
Another unsolved murder in this seemingly perfect little town? Gasp! If only there was a team who has solved like a million murders before that was willing to help. Oh wait! That’s us!
A shadow has been cast upon the once sunny town of Melville. Five people are missing, and it’s beginning to look like something sinister may be afoot. Behind the white picket fences and manicured lawns lies a very dark secret that only one person knows, but who? One thing’s for sure; you can’t trust anyone in this town, especially not your neighbor.
Our team of very experienced Impossible Cold Case Solvers™ have been sent in to investigate after the town’s lead detective goes missing. Now, as it so often is in our world, it’s up to us to pick up where he left off and help solve this mystery.
It’s just another day in a too-happy-to-be-real little neighborhood, and though no one wants to talk about it, that also means just another murder to be solved. A ruthless serial killer is on the loose in this suburban utopia, and he’s good – really good. Good enough to not be tracked, and good enough to never get caught.
Unfortunately for him, no one has solved more murders than we have – second only to the number of bombs we’ve defused and diamonds we’ve stolen, in fact – and now we’re hot on this killer’s trail!
First impressions are a funny thing. At first glance walking in the door, it would give the impression that this is far more a small apartment than a home in a pleasant little neighborhood. Progressing through this game opens more of the home to you, though it remands a fairly basic affair in terms of decor. Of note, we did appreciate a second floor bedroom (that yes, you climb a flight of stairs to get to.)
This game exists in a fairly large footprint of space. It allows for a comfortable flow that really enhances the gameplay, with some great “back and forth” moments between rooms.
To a small degree, it’s also decorated to feel like a home. Knick Knacks sit on tables. Bookshelves are full of books. Furniture is of proper scale and places realistically. Unlike many “home-themed” games that often go that route simply to make sourcing decor an easier task, Suburban Serial Killer at least attempts to create a mood wherein if you were dropped into the game blindfolded, you could conceivably believe you really did wind up in someone’s (modest) home.
The puzzles make an honest attempt to remain complimentary to the storyworld at most times. You’ll find yourselves thinking like true detectives as you try to gather background information on the suspect, as well as uncover tidbits about his victims that make them – or their remains – identifiable.
Though some tech is thrown into the mix, at it’s heart Suburban Serial Killer still relies somewhat heavily on four digit number codes – and while to be clear, that in no way makes this good game any less fun; it’s just a bit jarring for the narrative that everything connects to a padlock.
An inexplicably off-point moment of this game was finding a giant word search as one of the final steps to solve the murder. While word searches certainly have their place in activity books to kill time during long flights, I’m just not sure anyone is really a fan of finding that sort of thing in an Escape Game. Beyond that, it’s almost impossible to truly story-justify its existence.
Without giving away spoilers, the climax of this game brings together pieces from the five different murders in a really authentic, albeit grisly finale puzzle that perfectly evokes the mood of a true-to-life CSI investigation. It’s a fun moment that is both a solid game payoff as well as narrative resolution – something that oftentimes story-driven games somehow forget the importance of. And though it was a bit odd to have to reuse those pieces to solve a second unrelated puzzle step that at times felt more like a “take two,” at the end of the day its inclusion really enhances the immersion of Suburban Serial Killer’s storyworld.
I wasn’t sure how excited to let myself get prior to walking into another cold case murder game. Needless to say, I’ve seen quite a few of them, and they tend to blend together over time. Thankfully, Suburban Serial Killer is a decent enough example of the trope. This game is fun from start to finish, and has a really solid flow that kept our experienced group on our toes, right down to the last minute and change left on the clock in a true race-to-the-finish adrenaline rush.
At the end of the day, if you are a local with some time to kill, sure, why not go see The Escape Company in Orlando. But if you’re visiting from out of town, with a finite amount of available time to schedule games – there’s one is just a little too middle-of-the-road, and there’s just too many better put together venues you should see first.
Venue: The Escape Company
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $32 per person
We thank The Escape Company for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.