The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Framed (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Night at the Museum was a lot more Murder-y than I remember…

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The Valley Falls Museum is home to some of the world’s most exciting art exhibits and archaeological finds. It is also known for its wonderful ancient history curator, Albert McCain. However, everything changes when a successful heist of the museum results in McCain’s death. Based on evidence recovered from the scene, authorities arrest fellow museum employee, Noah Parker, and charge him with robbery and murder. Noah is a friend and calls you immediately, desperate to proclaim his innocence and enlist your help. He is aware of the Will Street Detective Agency’s stellar track record and is hopeful that you will find information that will exonerate him. Solve the mystery of the museum heist, the murder of Albert McCain, and collect the clues that could either free Parker from jail or lead to his conviction.

First Impressions:

When I first read the description of Framed, I couldn’t help but think:
Noah is a friend.
Yeah you know he’s been a good friend of mine.
But lately something’s changed, it ain’t hard to define,
Noah’s got accused of murder and now the problem’s mine.

So anyway, that’s how my mind works. In other news, we’ve been thrilled with the most recent entries Deadbolt has offered up, and it seems like there’s a new mechanic or evolution in the game monthly, so we couldn’t wait to see how Framed would change things up!

High Points:

Like we said, The Deadbolt Mystery Society is always changing and improving, iterating on their highly successful formula from month to month, and keeping things surprising as they go. This month was certainly no exception, packing what seems like even more puzzles than usual into the box, and starting players off with figuring out who the suspects are on their own! I have really enjoyed when Deadbolt has split their recent boxes into two parts, and that extra ah ha moment of discovery when a new envelope is opened works very well for their style of mystery. The designers have also implemented a few new tricks into the investigation, giving us a few new wow moments, including a couple scenes that allowed us to actively investigate some of the museum’s offices! The story is well implemented, and it is interesting to identify what makes the suspects suspicious, and then begin to piece together whether those suspicions are related to murder or… something else entirely. It felt like we really delved into the lives and interpersonal conflicts of the characters in this box, and I enjoyed seeing what these seemingly harmless museum employees got up to after hours.

The experience is very non-linear, allowing us complete freedom to tackle whatever we want over the course of the two parts, and ensuring that even if we stalled out on one puzzle, we could work on something else while our brains rebooted in time to discover the solution. Everything slides together extremely intuitively, and while getting to that point takes a good bit of thinking and solving, the solutions are always a completely smooth, logical fit. The shift from investigation into the suspects to determining the ultimate culprit is fantastic, and there are a few great twists along the way. I really loved how the climax was handled, and enjoyed how it developed into a really unexpected, but incredibly satisfying finale. The props and evidence were all brilliant, and we really loved the inclusion of one strange piece of evidence we just couldn’t stop looking at. “What could the significance be?” we wondered, and when all was revealed regarding this prop, we couldn’t help but laugh. Most of the puzzles involve piecing together multiple layers in order to arrive at the ultimate conclusion, and putting these connections together was a great time, especially for a couple interactions that allowed us to “physically” search certain areas of the museum.

Low Points:

I mean, none for me, but you had to imagine my weird “Jessie’s Girl” parody, so that probably wasn’t great for you.

Verdict:

Framed joins the ranks of The Cabin, Infected, and The Dark and Stormy Night as some of my absolute favorite Deadbolt boxes. The way it successfully changes up the usual Deadbolt formula just enough to evolve the experience, yet still stays true to what we always love about these mysteries, ensures that the whole adventure is a rousing triumph. The difficulty is just right, ensuring that while enthusiasts will still find a lot to challenge them, the game remains accessible to newcomers as well. I recommend this one without reservation! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code ESCAPE30! You can also see the rest of our Deadbolt Mystery Society reviews here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: The Deadbolt Mystery Society provided a complementary box.

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