The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Carnival of Chaos (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Step right up!

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From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The Shadow Brothers’ Carnival of Chaos had only been setup in Valley Falls for a little more than a day when Madame Ruby was found murdered in her fortune teller’s wagon, bludgeoned to death with her own crystal ball.  Although the killer was efficient in their killing, they left Madame Ruby before they were certain she was dead.  In a last ditch effort to provide information about the one who murdered her, Madame Ruby managed to scrawl this note before passing over into the Great Beyond:  “The spirits will tell you who did this to me.” The prime suspects for the murder come from the freak show.  Those are the people you need to focus on.  However, if they won’t talk, maybe the spirits will.  There have been reports of some strange occurrences going on at night after the midway shuts down.  The carnies are claiming that something is using the midway games to leave cryptic messages.  So you have a murder investigation, a creepy carnival, and a midway that may or may not be haunted by ghosts who are seeking to shed some light on Madame Ruby’s murder by leaving messages amongst the test-your-luck games.

First Impressions:

I’ve found that The Deadbolt Mystery Society is at it’s best when delving into the supernatural and spooky, and though their murder mysteries tend to be excellent as well, in my opinion when things get creepy, the fun factor ramps up! When I found out that our friends from S.T.A.L.K., who previously assisted on The Haunting of Indigo House, were returning to investigate the haunted midway of the Shadow Brother’s Carnival of Chaos, I was immediately excited to delve into the mystery!

High Points:

It was time to solve our first mystery at our new house! Obviously, we wanted to make sure it was great, so we grabbed the newest Deadbolt box and got to sleuthing!Continuing to innovate with some of the usual parts of a Deadbolt box, the suspects have been complied within a snazzy booklet advertising the Carnival! The haunted midway is presented excellently, and a map of the carnival itself is helpful in portraying the area. S.T.A.L.K.’s new website is excellent, and I’m really enjoying the expansion of the most recent Deadbolt boxes via substantial websites and social media pages.

The game flow is really engaging, and though there is no set path through the puzzles, it feels like everything leads into each separate piece smoothly. The tidbits of information that are hidden throughout the experiencer really help tie everything together as you solve your way through, and there are some truly clever intuitive deductions to make between pieces of evidence that we really enjoyed. The satisfaction of solving this box is real. To help new players along, a tips page has been included with this box, and those who don’t quite know where to start or are new to the whole experience will definitely benefit from giving it a once over. We’ve become experts at this, and there was still some good information included for us to keep in mind as well! A link to the finale has been included as well, circumventing the break of immersion that seeking out the Deadbolt website generally entails, and allows the box to keep the experience whole for the full game.

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Try your luck, and don’t mind the ghosts! These games are scary good! (I’m sorry, I’ll see myself out.)

Low Points:

After The Cabin’s astounding leap forward in storytelling, it was just slightly disappointing to return to the previous formula. It’s a very small change, but it was a lot of fun to solve the mystery in the moment, so we hope that returns one day! One particular puzzle shows up twice with slightly different coding, but with the exact same solving method. This type of puzzle also showed up in a previous recent box, which causes these to feel even more redundant overall. One of these in particular is very hard to differentiate between, which is much more frustrating than it needs to be. A bit clearer of a printout would help immensely in this situation. One particular elimination is circumstantial at best, and though we reasoned out the solution without help, we required the solution page in order to figure out why a certain suspect was innocent. The evidence was very light, to say the least, so an extra puzzle or story note would’ve helped clear this one up significantly.

Verdict:

Though not quite on the level of The Cabin’s masterful storytelling, the mystery conveyed within Carnival of Chaos is excellent, providing hours of supernatural puzzling and sleuthing to enjoy. I love that the most recent boxes have delved into the realm of the spooky, and am excited to see that continue with December’s The Toymaker! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS! 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 – The Cabin (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Chh chh chh… ahh ahh ahh…

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From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

20 years ago five camp counselors were brutally murdered at Camp Grand Echo. Now, those who survived have been summoned back to the camp by an eccentric millionaire and offered a large sum of money to spend one more night there for an upcoming reality show. No one seriously thinks the killing will start up again…until the headless body of the millionaire is found. The murderer, it seems, has returned. Old secrets will be unearthed. Bodies will fall. And The Reaper, once more, will reap. What truths will be uncovered in…The Cabin?  

First Impressions:

October is here, and with that come pumpkins, candy, and the best thing, horror themed mystery subscription boxes! As a huge fan of classic horror slasher flicks, the announcement of The Cabin had me excited to receive this box and dig into the mystery of The Reaper!

High Points:

Reminiscent of great horror stories like Friday the 13th and the best season of American Horror Story, Roanoke, (Shut up, it definitely is,) The Cabin is an amazing story based experience that really engaged us in ways I wasn’t expecting. Shaking up the usual Deadbolt formula, instead of investigating a murder after the fact, with The Cabin you’ll be trying to eliminate suspects before The Reaper can do the same, except in a slightly bloodier fashion! This has the excellent side effect of placing you within the story more directly while the events unfold. This is further effected through the experience’s phenomenal use of several out of the box, internet based interactions. The game flow is excellent as usual, allowing for non-linear solving while still gating off the most important parts expertly until the most appropriate moments.

Puzzles themselves continue to evolve, and while there’s some of the usual codebreaking, it’s mostly new and cleverly implemented. Other new puzzles present tidbits of the story throughout the game, and new revelations are around every corner! The story is fantastically engaging, and keeps up its intensity for the whole adventure, which lasted over 2 hours for us! The climax is surprising, presenting a perfect ending to the story, as well as a possible set up for a further meta-story, an amazing addition to the Deadbolt Universe that I can’t wait to see explored further! Overall, the 80’s slasher vibe of the box is perfectly implemented, and I love the way that The Deadbolt Mystery Society has grown into an even more story focused experience without sacrificing gameplay!

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But wait, there’s more (to uncover!)

Low Points:

There’s really not much I can say regarding low points for this box! There was a small typo in one article regarding the date of the murders, but that literally doesn’t matter. Everything is intuitive and exciting, and is amazing fun to investigate!

Verdict:

The Deadbolt Mystery Society has been on an absolute roll lately, and I have another new favorite Deadbolt box just a month after my last favorite, Terminal! In fact, the updates to the Deadbolt formula and constant surprises we encountered make this the first subscription box on the site to receive a 10 out of 10! The continued innovation and quality of these boxes are awesome, and I cannot wait to see what comes next during the Carnival of Chaos in November! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS! 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 – Return to 3B Mini Adventure (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-2

Price: $11.99 per envelope

Reunions aren’t always a happy affair.

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From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Return to the sleepy town of Valley Falls and pull back the dingy curtain to take another look at its sordid underbelly. Head back to The Hideaway Motel and discover the secrets that a killer called The Magpie left behind. As you visit one of the most notorious spots in town, uncover one of Valley Falls’ most well-kept secrets and do so while trying to avoid a local mafioso hitman who goes by the name of Vito the Smile.

First Impressions:

Deadbolt Mini Mysteries are a great idea, allowing fans of the series to return to previous stories and obtain a little more information about the goings on in Valley Falls! These approximately one hour long epilogues intrigued me, due to their low price and promise of further revelations, and I was definitely excited to see what was in store once I opened the envelope.

High Points:

This Mini Mystery takes place after the events of Murder in 3B and Ransom, a couple of the best stories so far, and it is interesting to see how these two boxes intertwine. The smaller nature of the game allows for the story to remain front and center throughout the puzzle solving experience. The game flow remains on theme throughout the adventure, and the solving experience is tightly woven around furthering the mystery through each successful solve. There is an excellent point where expectations are subverted to deliver further enigmas, and the whole thing ends on a satisfyingly climactic note. The puzzles themselves are a bit simpler than the usual fare from Deadbolt, but are still enjoyable to solve and tie into each other well within the confines of a more linear game.

 

Low Points:

One climatic puzzle doesn’t quite follow the usual methodology for this type of puzzle, and took up a lot of our solve time based solely on its ambiguity. This one becomes difficult mostly due to the logical leap needed to make the connection, which would have been better served by an in game clue to direct. The answer makes total sense once it is solved, but since this type of puzzle tends to work differently, a clue worked into the game flow itself would’ve helped this one work better.

Verdict:

With Return to The Hideaway Motel, Deadbolt delivers a bite size adventure for seasoned fans of the franchise. At only $12, it gives those who have experienced Murder in 3B and Ransom some further closure to the stories, as well as an adventure to solve while waiting for their next full size box! While the game is solvable without prior knowledge, I’d definitely recommend checking those boxes out first to get the full experience. You can order those boxes, a well as Return to The Hideaway Motel via Deadbolt’s One-Time purchases portal here! If you decide you’d like to subscribe to the regular, full-sized mysteries, you can get 30% off your first adventure by using the code TRYDMS!

8/10 (Great)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Terminal (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Mile High Murder

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From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

A flight from Madrid to New York turns into an international incident after one of the first-class passengers is found dead while the plane is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.  The man seems to be in perfect health, and there are no obvious signs to point to cause of death.  The contents found in the man’s possession, however, suggest that there is more to him than meets the eye.  Only a limited number of passengers and flight crew had access to him.  Did he simply die of natural causes?  Or was his death the result of some sinister plot?  Unravel the story of the mysterious first-class passenger and discover what really happened on that flight to Madrid.

First Impressions:

The Deadbolt Mystery Society puts together some fantastic story based puzzling adventures, and I’m always excited when they post the synopsis of each upcoming box. Terminal didn’t initially catch my eye like other boxes did, seeming to be a more basic murder mystery than usual, but just like the victim, there was much more to this box than meets the eye, and I was pleasantly surprised by what is probably my favorite Deadbolt mystery to date!

High Points:

The game flow for Terminal was phenomenal, and all connections were intuitive and connected to the deductive process well. The story, which I thought was fairly plain at first blush, proved to be very entertaining and contained quite a few surprises to discover. The variety of puzzles was excellent, and kept us entertained without being overloaded with code breaking like some earlier boxes. While we enjoy the codes, the creative and varied interactions included with Terminal were a breath of fresh air. Online components work flawlessly and add an extra dimension to the game, standing in for various components convincingly. Some of the most mysterious puzzles in the Deadbolt line were included with this box, but careful investigation triggered several awesome ah ha moments. The relationships between the suspects and victim were well written, and piecing together their stories to create a timeline and coral the logic is a lot of fun. The multiple objectives add spectacularly to the game flow, and provide a good sense of progress to the experience itself.

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Deadbolt reaches new heights with these puzzles!

Low Points:

One part of the game itself is actually not included within the box, which is by design. Luckily, it is emailed, posted on their Facebook group, and mailed via US Mail. I didn’t receive the email, but luckily saw the post on Facebook, allowing me to soldier forth without confusion. The mailing arrived at my house a full day after I’d finished the box, so I’m glad I did see the post, otherwise, we’d have stalled out. Later, I did see that a few people were very confused about a part of the box that just didn’t seem to connect after everything else was solved. I think the idea itself is solid, but in order to ensure the box is playable on day one, it probably makes sense to include some sort of backup. The puzzles also do strain the suspension of disbelief sometimes, matching the theme but not making as much sense as clues, so if realism is important to you this could be a negative. We don’t really mind however, as we’re here for the puzzles!

Verdict:

Terminal is definitely our favorite of the seven Deadbolt boxes released so far! It’s been a lot of fun seeing how the subscription has grown and improved, and we absolutely cannot wait for their upcoming spooky October mystery, Cabin! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS! 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.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Ransom (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Taken

Theme:

From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Sasha Millington, daughter of real estate magnate, Warren Bankhead, was kidnapped during a gala celebrating the opening of the Sioux exhibit at the Valley Falls Museum.  A ransom note has been received asking for ten million dollars in exchange for her return. Time is running out.  Discover the kidnapper’s true identity and motive for abducting her before it is too late.

First Impressions:

It seems like almost every time a new Deadbolt Mystery arrives, it has even more puzzles and quality props! From the humble beginnings of the still great Murder in 3B, Hostage exemplifies the evolution of The Deadbolt Mystery Society. Sleek paper props, along with some great tactile items continue to make Deadbolt one of the most visually striking boxes we currently subscribe to!

High Points:

There is a fair amount of code breaking to be enjoyed with Ransom, per Deadbolt’s usual MO, and it’s well integrated into the mystery, but there are a few other logical puzzles to solve and many deductions to make, allowing for a varied experience. Suspect interviews tie excellently into each other and provide a sense of intrigue to the story, slowly bringing together the building blocks of the narrative! While a kidnapping and ransom could be a very dark theme, Deadbolt doesn’t let it get too uncomfortable, keeping the tone mysterious rather than ominous. The side stories crafted help further the investigation in an interesting way, and lead to pertinent revelations about the relationships of the many people surrounding Sasha Millington. The epilogue ties up all the loose ends of the box in a satisfying denouement, explaining motives and backstories in a excellently detailed manner.

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Wouldn’t you like to know where Sasha is?

Low Points:

One interaction breaks immersion by being a strangely ambiguous counting and math puzzle that really doesn’t fit into the story in any way. One main deduction that tied together the story neatly was hidden in a place that, from the past five boxes, we’d felt we were trained to generally ignore, and one of the revelations of the identity of that person wasn’t explained until the epilogue was being read. This led to a fair bit of confusion at the end of an otherwise exciting mystery. The suspect pool for this mystery is nowhere near as exciting as those from past boxes, especially Asylum and Sleight of Hand, so the climax wasn’t quite the revelation we were hoping for, but the game itself was still a tightly crafted experience. The collector’s cards are always nice touch, but this month’s felt as though it could be a very small spoiler for those that care about such things. I don’t, but I know others have a high aversion to anything that could be even the slightest bit spoilery.

Verdict:

Ransom is another solid entry in the case files of The Deadbolt Mystery Society! It’s definitely an excellent jumping in point for those looking to test the waters with a recently archived box, and really shows off how far the Society has come in just a few short months! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS! 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.