The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Sleight of Hand (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Follow the spirits!

Theme:

From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

When The Amazing Silverstone died, his Last Will and Testament was a source of much controversy due to a personalized note he left with his lawyer.  It read:

“To my dearest son, Peter.  If you are reading this particular draft then it means my unknown nemesis murdered me.  They will have gone to great lengths to cover their tracks, but I know the truth.  In time, hopefully, you will too.  There have been lots of unusual happenings at Silverstone Manor over the past few weeks.  Some of them I could have chalked up to simple coincidence, but the sheer number of strange occurrences has cast a sinister cloud overhead that has been too overwhelming to ignore.  Your reading of this will proves that I wasn’t paranoid or crazy.  I was right all along about the threat on my life.  That brings me to your involvement in this cryptic business.  In addition to my estate and the considerable wealth that goes with it, I am leaving you the contents of my safe which, I believe, contains the identity of the one who took my life.   Over the course of my life I have made many enemies, both personally and professionally, and I believe one of these is to blame for my untimely demise.  Determine the identity of my killer and bring them to justice.  I have the utmost confidence in you, my son.”

Although he had acquired considerable sleight of hand skills from years of apprenticing under his father, Peter Silverstone had no idea where to start with the investigation of his father’s murder.  As a result, he has brought the contents of his father’s safe to you at the Will Street Detective Agency and hired you to help solve the mystery surrounding the death of The Amazing Silverstone.

First Impressions:

While we were previously disappointed with the lighter story within The Wrath of Nero, we are always excited to see a new Deadbolt experience release. With Sleight of Hand, we were enthused to see the theme would lend itself more to the story based mysteries we’ve become accustomed to with The Deadbolt Mystery Society. The box featured a snazzy new design, and evoked a sense of mystical wonder, setting the tone for our next case perfectly!

20180711_0813321549688908.jpg

Prepare yourselves for magic and mystery!

High Points:

Sleight of Hand is an excellent return to form for Deadbolt, bringing back a heavy emphasis on delivering a deep story that slowly unravels as the players solve codes and hidden messages. Online interactions requiring passwords found through clever puzzling make a welcome return, and the box as a whole allows for incremental solving in a very satisfying way. The cast of suspects are all very interesting in their own right, though I think that the witch was my personal favorite, as I’d love to know more about this possibly mystical character! Like Asylum, this motley crew was so fantastic and I’d love to see more of them in the future! We were kept guessing by the enigmas up to the end, when everything came together in a logical, yet challenging, way. Although suspects were not eliminated in as clear cut ways as they were in Murder in 3B or Asylum, there were more connections to make that would lead to logical conclusions regarding the murder, culminating in a highly satisfying solve. Props and information included are top quality as always, and poring over the information and putting all the pieces together made for an enjoyable evening of puzzling.

Low Points:

The experience was great at capturing a magical aura and staying true to that vibe throughout, though it would’ve been interesting to have a few puzzles that were directly related to magic itself, rather than mostly code-breaking.

Verdict:

Sleight of Hand is everything that we love about Deadbolt, tied up in a lovely, magical package! The Deadbolt Mystery Society is definitely one of the best at delivering intricately woven mysteries to your door, and this box is another must buy for us! We cannot wait to see what’s in store next month with their new experience, Ransom! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS!

9/10 (Excellent)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Wrath of Nero (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Follow the spirits!

Theme:

From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

It’s been over a year since the psychopath known as Nero last threatened the citizens of Thornmire County.  A villain with his own moral code and twisted sense of justice, Nero doled out punishment on those he deemed guilty, mimicking his namesake, the Roman Emperor Nero, who was known for his cruel and unusual methods of torturing those who crossed him.  No one had seen or heard from him until earlier today when you received a curious box from Nero, threatening the city of Hampstead with the release of a highly communicable airborne toxin that will likely kill thousands of innocent people if not contained.  Nero, however, enjoys the thrill of the chase and the challenge of a worthy opponent.  He has provided a series of puzzles that will allow you to pinpoint the location of the toxin as well as the means to disable the bomb that will disseminate the chemical compound into the atmosphere.  He has allowed you and the other members of the Will Street Detective Agency 72 hours before the population of Hampstead is wiped off of the map.  Oh, and one more thing.  Nero has given specific instructions not to contact the police, the CDC, Homeland Security, or any formal law enforcement agency, threatening to detonate the bomb early if his instructions aren’t followed.  This means your wits and detective skills are the only thing that stands between the town of Hampstead and a bloody, brutal demise.  Discover the secret behind Nero’s wrath and do whatever it takes to save the citizens of Hampstead.

First Impressions:

There was a time when we first started reviewing mystery boxes that we would pop them open and solve them on the couch with everything laid out on the coffee table. A simpler time, with smaller, quaint mysteries about someone getting Murder(ed) in 3B. Nowadays though, most of the mysteries we solve have gotten so much bigger, but we aren’t complaining about the sheer number of devious puzzles to solve! The Wrath of Nero is no exception. Boasting an enormous number puzzles, similar to the size of The Haunting of Indigo House, we were in for quite a night of puzzling. About 3 hours to be exact!

20180627_0821131121034367.jpg

The many puzzles of a madman!

High Points:

The Wrath of Nero has a lot of new ideas, and mixes up the usual formula of Deadbolt to mostly great effect! It’s always awesome when a box tries something new, and it is obvious that the folks at Deadbolt have put a lot of work and thought in while developing this new experience. The new adventure pits you against a terrorist psycho intent on detonating a dirty bomb within the city, and swaps out the usual suspect cards for locations. The game also presents you with two goals, figure out where the bomb is, and correctly enter the defusal sequence before it goes off! The first half of the puzzles we solved were an excellent mix of decoding, logical connections and deduction, and fantastically developed enigmas. There’s a lot to go through, but most of the connections between items are intuitive and provide a wonderful ah ha moment when they are solved. The puzzles themselves also run the gamut of several different puzzling types, playing to the strengths of both members of our team in different ways, keeping us satisfyingly occupied and engaged with the mystery. There are also references to previous boxes within this one, which is a great easter egg for Deadbolt veterans!

Low Points:

The second half of the puzzles we solved started to get more frustrating. These puzzles involved much larger gaps within their leaps of logic, some of which, to their credit, did seem to come out of the mind of a lunatic. Unfortunately, we aren’t lunatics and had the hardest time figuring out if certain pieces of the box even *were* puzzles. Some were at the same time simplistic yet baffling, leaving us wondering why they would be the answer. Others contained multiple answers that could not be deduced with simple logic. Usually with Deadbolt boxes, there is a certain clarity and sureness of the solution when a puzzle has been solved, but many within The Wrath of Nero did not have this satisfying effect. The metapuzzle as well was unclear to us, and seemed to involve an extra step that just wasn’t there. This could have been alleviated had a certain bit of the puzzle been included in the box, rather than hidden online within the site. We didn’t find this until much later, as it isn’t referred to in the box, and seemed like a side hint when we did finally stumble across it. Having looked at it online, it really should’ve been included as part of the box, or at least mentioned. The story also wasn’t quite as deep as previous boxes. Where other boxes have developed the story from puzzle to puzzle, this one never quite got beyond what was included within the box. A definite step back after the excellently woven stories of The Haunting of Indigo House and Asylum.

Verdict:

The Wrath of Nero is not a bad box, quite the opposite, but doesn’t quite reach the caliber of Deadbolt’s other boxes, which are simply amazing. The Nero box shakes up the usual Deadbolt formula quite a bit, but some of the original charm gets lost in the jumble. While the new theme, multiple goals, and metapuzzle solving are a great addition, it all feels to much too soon, and ends up more muddled than we’d like. Nero is a great character, however, and it’d be great to find out more about him in the future! Maybe we can even visit him someday in the Saturn Hills Asylum! You should definitely check this one out if the theme interests you. As always, we’re looking forward to July’s new magical mystery! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS!

7/10 (Good)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Haunting of Indigo House (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Follow the spirits!

Theme:

From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The ominous shadow of Bleak Lily has clouded the public’s opinions of Indigo House for the past hundred years, turning it into a paranormal hotspot frequented by all manner of supernatural enthusiasts.  A local ghost story rooted in bits of truth, the tale of Bleak Lily is actually the tragic story of Lily Abernethy, one of the estate’s original owners who took to haunting the house after a suspicious and untimely demise.  In the years after Lily’s passing, numerous people have died on the grounds of Indigo House, and although there is never anything to prove that the ghost of Lily Abernethy is to blame, people still whisper that the bloodshed is her handiwork.  The Van Burens bought Indigo House from the Abernethy family around the turn of the 20th century and have done their best to shake off the curse of Bleak Lily.  However, the rumors started up again when the matriarch of the family, Hilda Van Buren, was found dead in her bed.  Was Mrs. Van Buren’s death from natural causes?  Did Bleak Lily claim another casualty?  Or is there something else sinister at work?

First Impressions:

There were even more items than usual included in this box, which was great to see! More puzzles are always welcome, and the quality of props remained a high point of the box. I love supernatural horror the most, so the theme was also a big draw for me with this one!

20180522_201010631804402.jpg

Only the spookiest of clues to be found inside!

High Points:

The sheer amount of puzzles and information included provided an even more expansive and immersive experience than usual, and we loved poring over the story! All the bonus items were integral to the investigation, with no fluff, which was fantastic to see. Deadbolt always does an amazing job with world-building, and The Haunting of Indigo House is certainly no exception to that! Further code-breaking is included, per usual, but this box mixes it up well by providing more varied types of deductive and layered enigmas to solve. Most suspects can be eliminated more conclusively in this box, and the motive is quite a bit clearer than it previously was in Asylum, which is a great step in the right direction. Working with a variety of different consultants in this box allows for a nice change of pace allowing us to branch out from the usual case reports. The online component of this experience is expanded greatly, and interweaves within the story quite well. The non-linear nature of this box allowed for us to jump between puzzles whenever we were stuck, and kept the game flow from stalling out.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle was mostly solved by us, but we needed to decipher the initial bit, and were ultimately unable to. This led us to use the hints for the first time, and while the hints were good overall, they didn’t help us with our specific problem, so we still aren’t 100% sure what the puzzle was trying to say. Also, there were some logical leaps we hadn’t experienced before with a Deadbolt box due to the nature of the supernatural mystery, and while that still led to an immersive experience, it made solving certain sections of the mystery a bit more vague than we are used to.

Verdict:

The Haunting of Indigo House introduces a plethora of new puzzles and story elements that really evolves the experience! The adventure itself feels even more expansive than Asylum and Murder in 3B, both excellent experiences in their own right, and points towards even better things to come! As usual, The Deadbolt Mystery Society remains one of our favorite at home experiences, and we certainly recommend subscribing or trying out one of their previous archived boxes! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS!

9/10 (Excellent)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Asylum (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

We’re all mad here!

Theme:

The Saturn Hills Asylum has been shaken by the murder of the Judas Killer, Wolfgang Koch! The circumstances of his murder have police baffled, so the Mayor of Valley Falls has contacted you to help solve the case. This one’s a doozy, though, as most of the suspects are the manipulative and murderous patients at the Asylum! Sift through the evidence and find out what sort of insane plot caused the Judas Killer to be hanged!

First Impressions:

The sight of another fantastically designed Deadbolt Mystery Society box on my doorstep was a highlight of my day! Opening up this box revealed a much heftier second case from Deadbolt, which is always a great surprise! We enjoyed Deadbolt’s first case Murder in 3B quite a bit, so seeing that there was even more to solve this go round was excellent! Already our favorite subscription box, we were excited to delve into this twisted mystery.

20180408_1455591258081638.jpg

Another crazy mystery begins!

High Points:

Asylum absolutely upped the ante with their second box! Not only does the mystery include more props and evidence to go through, the mystery itself is much more involved, including numerous side stories, online components, and great codebreaking to tackle. Though the side stories aren’t quite as humorous as their previous box, they are engaging and provide realistic clues that immerse you into the world and social dynamics of Saturn Hills Asylum perfectly. We were happy to see that hints and the solution document were separated from the in universe files, which kept us within the world of the Asylum. The puzzles are presented in a believable way, with hidden details pointing you toward each new breakthrough. The props are great, and fit with the theme well, intertwining with the mystery and becoming more integral to the story than in most other subscription boxes. One particular Easter egg was hidden in plain sight and provided us with a particularly interesting moment of realization, occurring just in time to begin unraveling a deeper conspiracy than we had originally suspected. The story is self-contained, and resolves with an excellent climax and explanation, while still hinting that we may not have seen the last of Saturn Hills and its colorful cast of characters. Except Wolfgang. You know, on account of the hanging.

Low Points:

Connections could feel a bit more vague during this investigation, and while we correctly determined the killer, it felt like it was due to our full elimination of other suspects rather than solid evidence pointing toward them. Though there are reasons for the suspect to be the killer, we weren’t as 100% sure as we were regarding the Murder in 3B case.

Verdict:

Asylum upped the bar for The Deadbolt Mystery Society and subscription boxes overall, further cementing them as the standard all others should be measured by! Crafting an excellent self-contained mystery that left us wanting more, I cannot recommend this box enough! I’m really hoping we get to see more from the cast of crazed characters residing within Saturn Hills in the future, and cannot wait for next month’s box, The Haunting of Indigo House! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Murder in 3B (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Sherlock’s got nothing on us!

Theme:

In the Deadbolt Mystery Society’s first box, you’ll become a consulting detective for the Valley Falls Police Department in order to investigate a murder at the shady Hideaway Motel. Megan Thompson, a young woman who was staying in 3B, was brutally murdered and there’s very little evidence to go on. The mayor wants this case closed as soon as possible, and you can only hold the suspects, last night’s guests and employees, for so long, so you’d better get to investigating!

First Impressions:

As you can see from the featured photo, the presentation of this box is top notch! I really liked the excellent themeing and snazzy production value on the outside, getting me excited to see what was inside, which definitely didn’t disappoint as there was quite a bit to go through!

20180317_223323594243127.jpg

There’s a lot to explore with this mystery!

High Points:

I appreciated the inclusion of glossy photos of each of the suspects, which gave us a tangible and immersive way to keep tabs on and eliminate suspects as we went through the mystery. There were a couple of nice props included from the motel itself, and the evidence included was a lot of fun to pore over. The writing feels true to each character and is realistically presented through letters, case notes, and emails. Side stories and Easter eggs provided were great, and deepened the story through convincing world-building. For fans of Deadbolt’s Escape Rooms, there are even some surprises that tie in from those experiences as well, though no prior knowledge is required. The puzzle threads and investigatory logic all intertwines well together and provides an enjoyable game flow for an experience that lasts around 2 hours. The self-contained nature of the mystery was a breath of fresh air when compared to many other mystery boxes that just plod forward aimlessly from month to month! There is an online component that provides specific feedback during the mystery and provides certainty that you have succeeded in your investigation when you have solved the murder.

Low Points:

We only had a couple of points for feedback with this box, first being that while the investigation reports were thorough, we would have liked to see more props and items tied into the story. The ones that were sent with this box were excellent, but were pertinent only for a short time. One of the best things about these boxes are the surprises they contain, so we’d love to see some interesting evidence in future deliveries. Also, we did not use the hint system, as everything was intuitive and solvable, but the files you unlock while progressing through the story are mixed in with the hint files. Luckily, all files require a password to unlock, but it’d be nice to have hints and solutions separated from evidence to keep up the immersion.

Verdict:

I’m very excited about the Deadbolt Mystery Society! Even though Murder in 3B is only their first box, this subscription mystery service is easily my favorite of the ones I’ve tried so far. The story, immersion, and overall experience was a lot of fun from start to finish, and I’m already looking forward to their next mystery, Asylum! This first box was a great introduction to their world, and I’ve been told that Asylum will include even more content and immersive fun! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS!

9/10 (Excellent)

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