The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Museum Nocturnus (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

I don’t remember Night at the Museum being this creepy…

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Museum Nocturnus is a paranormal museum dedicated to cursed objects, items taken from haunted locations, serial killer artifacts, and anything else weird that wouldn’t stand a chance of being curated for any other museum. Valley Falls’ resident group of ghost hunters, S.T.A.L.K., purchased the museum in hopes of turning a profit and boosting their profile within the paranormal community. Father Richter Casey agrees to spend the night inside the museum and perform a series of blessings on the place before it reopens. Things go awry, however, when the priest is found dead the following morning. Given the frightful nature of the place, the list of potential culprits includes both human and supernatural suspects. Your job is to investigate The Hall of Murderers, The Hall of Cursed Toys, and The Hall of Haunted Items in order to determine what really happened to Father Casey.

First Impressions:

Museum Nocturnus is a location that has been mentioned once before in Deadbolt’s previous adventure, The Body Farm. When I saw that a mystery would be taking place in this eerie establishment, I was very excited to see what would await us inside! I’ve really loved this run of creepy, paranormal style mysteries that have come out lately from Deadbolt, and this seemed like it would be a great capstone for spooky season!

High Points:

Museum Nocturnus focuses even more on story, which is a new, and welcome update I’ve noticed in newer Deadbolt boxes. The narrative is fantastic, and hides its secrets well, revealing revelations at just the right time to surprise and lead detectives down new avenues of investigation. I really loved the characterization of each suspect, as well as the myriad killers and haunted items housed within the museum’s walls. Each new killer and item had its own lore and teased us just enough to want more! I’m really hoping that, like Asylum and Sanitarium before, we will one day return to the Museum Nocturnus to delve deeper into the freaky exhibits we discovered. The presentation of the puzzles and clues is fantastic as ever, and each new wing of the museum that we opened provided us with thematic new props. The story is filled with foreshadowing, and unraveling each investigative thread was immensely satisfying, right up to the exciting conclusion!

Puzzles are great, and very intuitive, with each level of the game tying together with the story believably, allowing for the narrative to play out as we solved. Interactions were more linear overall, but there weren’t any specific choke points that stopped progress, and each batch of conundrums that released in each wing provided enough to do that our team of two remained completely engaged with the game for the full experience. This experience reminds me a lot of early days PC adventure games, dropping you into a location and letting you explore all the cool bits and bobs, while still giving you challenges to solve in order to progress, and find more fantastic items! One of my favorite puzzles presented us with an innocuous couple of items that colorfully revealed a secret message once we had deduced what was important. I always love messages that are hidden in plain sight, and this solve was immediately satisfying once we had it figured.

Low Points:

For enthusiasts, this box will probably come in as an easier experience. Though there is a lot to do, the puzzles feel shorter, and less layered than usual. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for beginners looking for a more straightforward game, I drop this here for veteran sleuths mostly as an FYI. While the puzzles included within this box are all very intuitive, some are a bit too direct. Some directions are very immediately spelled out; telling us exactly what to do, rather than presenting a conundrum to figure out.

Verdict:

Museum Nocturnus presented us with an interesting setting, strange paranormal goings on, and a fantastic mystery to solve. I’d definitely recommend this box, especially to new players looking for a good jumping in point. The story and great game flow is more than enough to entertain enthusiasts, however, and I think anyone will have a great time uncovering the secrets of this spooky museum. 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!

8/10 (Great)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Lair (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review was brought to you by me! J

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Nightingale Lane is set off the main road and difficult to see from the highway. In other words, it’s a perfect spot for secrets. When a courier for Coyote Parcel Service needs a signature for the envelope he is supposed to deliver to 148 Nightingale Lane, he peeks through the window in hopes of getting the owner’s attention. What he sees is a room covered in blood-soaked plastic. Could there be a logical explanation for such a sinister sight? Is it possible that this isn’t what it looks like? Or has he stumbled upon the lair of a madman who has managed to keep to the shadows and out of the public eye? Explore the house on Nightingale Lane and find out what’s really been going on there.

First Impressions

I’m not sure why but I kept reading this box’s title as “Liar” instead of “Lair”. To be fair, “Liar” could be at least some sort of adjacent, related title for this box (as well as just many other boxes) so I feel like technically I wasn’t super off. Anyways! On a super, totally un-related note, what’s up with horror themes and teeth?

Yay Points

As can often be expected from the creative team at Deadbolt, Lair contained a cool and creepy story with interesting plot surprises. I really enjoyed the story-related a-ha realizations we experienced, hinted at by various clues on the way. In particular, it was a clever touch the way we were given the key to solving the final mystery and how it fit (or didn’t fit) in with the killer’s plan.

As always, the box contained a huge assortment of puzzles for us to play through. We really enjoyed how story elements emerge as various answers are unlocked, as well as how this contributed to the smooth flow of the game. There were some cool props and story facets in particular that not only made the experience more directed, but also created a more thrilling impetus behind working towards and getting through the next step. 

While all the props were neat, I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that we were (finally?) provided a thorough map of Valley Falls (or at least a good portion of it). I kind of forget that this is a “normal”, functioning (fictional) town given the sheer number of serial killers, crime rings, and just pervasive issues they seem to have. The map itself was an interesting prop and veteran Deadbolt subscribers will definitely appreciate the callbacks to previous mysteries. There were also a couple of new interesting landmarks introduced in this game, at least one of which we wouldn’t be surprised if it were re-visited in future boxes.

The killer of this game definitely had an interesting personality, and we kind of got a Collector-like vibe. Could there be a sequel in the works? At the very least, I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this box helped create a foundation for later mysteries!

Pondering Points

There was one puzzle in particular that was a bit ambiguous for us in figuring out how to apply the directions we were given. While we knew what we were supposed to do, we ended up spending a bit of time guessing and checking our solution for this puzzle.

Overall though, the puzzles themselves were good. Compared to other Deadbolt boxes, they seemed a little simpler overall, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. The box was still an enjoyable experience!

Final Verdict

The Lair provided a really suspenseful and intriguing mystery experience! I think this box would be friendly for more advanced beginning sleuths, but definitely check it out for yourself 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!

8/10 (Great)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Circle (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Something terrible is brewing in Valley Falls… as usual.

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

When Jodie Wong hosts a group of her closest friends for an evening of fun, she decides the entertainment will be a game called The Circle that requires everyone to write down one anonymous fact about themselves. The group will then take turns guessing which fact corresponds to which person. She decides to make things even more exciting by having everyone type out their fact on an antique typewriter that was owned by a murderer named Nicholas Hundley. Things get weird, however, when there are more messages than participants and one of the notes reads, “I killed a person once. Tonight, I’ll kill another.” No one admits to writing the note, and everyone goes home thinking it was nothing more than a bad joke. It doesn’t seem funny the next day when Jodie is found murdered in her home. Was Jodie Wong killed by one of those closest to her who attended the party? Or was the typewriter a conduit through which something sinister entered this world? Enter The Circle and find out.

First Impressions:

It’s the official, (not really official, but…) start of Deadbolt’s spooky season! The fall has traditionally had some fantastic creepy boxes, and it looks like this September and October will be no different, with The Circle and next month’s Lair bringing the strange and supernatural themes I love! From the moment I saw this box’s cover art I was excited, and absolutely had to crack the box open the same day we received it.

High Points:

The Deadbolt Mystery Society has delivered some fairly dense puzzling mysteries lately, and The Circle is no slouch in regards to the amount of puzzles it contains. There are quite a few connections to be made, puzzles to be solved, and codes to break, and as has become the norm recently, there are new items to find during each new stage of the game. I have been loving the multi-part set up of recent Deadbolt boxes, and the ah ha moments that are derived from opening a new envelope and finding just the right prop to connect with something you’ve been puzzling over previously are fantastic! Another innovation for this box is an expanded focus on narrative. Though Deadbolt already does a great job of weaving stories into their experiences, The Circle in particular focuses even more on expanding the lore and upping the world building. I also loved how the climax and epilogue were expanded within the box, allowing us a deeper insight into the finale, and leaving us with some revelations we were not expecting! It is astounding how Deadbolt continues to evolve month to month, delivering innovations into their mysteries that I didn’t know I wanted, but am always excited to receive.

Though the story is somewhat darker than usual, it never becomes overwhelmingly dour, and bits of comic relief or lighter moments help to ensure the solving remains enjoyable. The puzzles are beautifully integrated into the story, and there are loads of interesting characters to meet and interact with along the way. It is always interesting to see what new Valley Falls resident we will meet next, and one character that assists with the investigation will definitely be someone I’m watching out for in future spooky boxes! There are several great call backs to older boxes for veteran detectives, and the vast array of excellent props tie everything together nicely. The whole process of solving The Circle is brilliant, as the mysterious and suspenseful vibe weaves throughout the proceedings amazingly. While we solved each new puzzle, small revelations hinted at different threads of investigation, and though we theorized regarding what might truly be going on, the final revelation was truly an excellent surprise. Puzzles are very intuitive, and it always makes sense as to what comes next during the excellent game flow, even though determining the solutions might be a bit trickier. A couple of great puzzles felt enormously satisfying once the solves clicked into place, and all points were logical and required no leaps or sorting out of red herrings.

Low Points:

The PDFs pack a lot of information inside, but sometimes, these were a bit hard to read. Since only our phones have QR readers, we had to open the links and then transfer them to our desktop so we could more easily read what was on screen. For a smoother experience, it might be ok to have a couple PDFs for those with less ability to read the smaller letters. There was one puzzle in particular that is ubiquitous on Facebook, and while it isn’t a bad puzzle per se, it is a puzzle type that didn’t quite fit in with the other, more clever enigmas that Deadbolt usually dreams up. There were also a couple other interactions that were a little more simplistic than we were used to, whose connections were somewhat more spelled out, but these were, fortunately, not frequent.

Verdict:

Overall, The Circle is a great new addition to Deadbolt’s unofficial spooky lineup, and I love the even bigger focus on narrative, new mechanics, and expanded ending seen in this box. Though we found it to be a bit easier than usual, there were still loads of puzzling, and some clever surprises I’d recommend to any mystery lover, especially those who like a bit of supernatural fun to spice things up! 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!

8.5/10 (Great)

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

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.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Catch Me If You Can: The Collector Part 2 (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review was brought to you by me! 🙂

Location: Your Home!

Players: We recommend 2-4 Players

Price: $24.99 + shipping

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The Collector has returned to finish the grisly business he began last year and the stakes are higher than ever. He’s abducted someone very close to you and has given you a deadline of 24 hours to catch him. Failure is not an option. It’s time to put an end to The Collector’s reign of terror. Difficulty Level: 8/10 Note: This is a sequel to The Collector. We do not recommend purchasing this box if you haven’t done The Collector.

First Impressions

At last – the long awaited sequel to the Collector! The first box ended on a highly mysterious note and set up an extremely interesting story, so I was curious to see how Deadbolt would follow-up and resolve this killer mystery.

Yay Points

I am very happy to report that the story did not disappoint! Instantly, details of Part One rushed back to me as the premise of this new case was revealed. The introduction was a nice segue from the first box and set up this mystery well. As we advanced through the plot, it was clear how well-crafted the story was as well. The conclusion to this two-part saga was very fulfilling, as the Collector’s motivations and actions culminated into a climactic ending that left me satisfied.

I am always impressed by just the sheer amount of items that are packed into each Deadbolt box, and this one did not disappoint. Once we laid everything out, it was pretty easy to match the various pieces of evidence together so that things quickly become manageable. We had a clear starting point due to the physical set-up of certain evidence. Though this involved some initial non-linear solves, the rest of the box quickly led down an intuitive path.

The puzzles themselves were extremely well-developed. They were multilayered, multifunctional, and included a lot of good twists. It was really clear where to apply the solutions, and some of solutions themselves had an additional benefit of helping to establish a pattern for solving a subset of puzzles. Also, the design of the puzzles was well thought out, as crucial parts for solving later puzzles were hidden until the story was ready for them. (As someone who accidentally jumps ahead to puzzles, I was pleasantly surprised at this aspect since it prevented me from solving parts too early.)

As usual, we enjoyed a diverse amount of puzzles in this box, and appreciated the easier wins at the beginning before the game ramped up the challenge. There were also some nice tactile interactions that I thought were clever ideas, and as always the puzzles were well integrated into the storyline and were just plain fun to solve. Overall, we felt like this box was ever so slightly easier than Part 1, boasting a moderate to higher range of difficulty.

Pondering Points

There was one puzzle early on though that was a bit of a leap for us. To be fair, it’s possible we were overthinking things. Perhaps a smaller additional clue would have been helpful to guide us to the right path.

There was also one puzzle that we felt was a little misleading, as the process for solve this conundrum depends on the accuracy of interpreting certain pieces. However, one part is misrepresented in guiding us to the solution. While we were able to figure out relatively easily what we were meant to do, we feel like this part could be clarified so that there is no question.

Final Verdict

I would highly recommend The Collector Part 2 (and of course, Part 1, which we recommend doing first in order to ensure you get the full story experience). The plot is intriguing and the puzzles are a fun set of challenges. These boxes would definitely be better suited to those who are more familiar with puzzling though, as they might be slightly overwhelming to beginner sleuths. 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!

9/10 (Excellent)

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