The Deadbolt Mystery Society Mini-Mystery – Sweet Tooth (Mini-Review)

Kara’s Note: This mini-review was brought to you by me! 😀

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $12.99 for this Mini Mystery

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Investigate the cutthroat world of baking in our newest mini-mystery as a famous food critic is found murdered after planning a visit to Valley Falls to review its finest culinary establishments.

Note: This is a mystery that is half the size of our normal boxes and takes about half the amount of time to complete. The mini will be delivered in an envelope, not a box.

First Impressions

Like many others during this pandemic, I have watched a whole bunch of The Great British Bake Off and caught the baking bug. So I was super excited to dive into Sweet Tooth, and was definitely happy to find there to be a recipe included!

Yay Points

Though shorter than the usual Deadbolt boxes, Sweet Tooth met the high standards we’ve come to expect with their full-length mysteries. I’m impressed with the creativity that went into everything that filled the envelope. Incorporating their story and theme into each problem, clue, and prop, Sweet Tooth delivered us an intuitive puzzle experience along with an interesting conundrum. And, like Deadbolt’s other boxes, there was definitely more than meets the eye with this mystery. We were pleasantly surprised at how things unfolded and tied together from the beginning.

This experience seemed a little easier in difficulty level, but still very enjoyable. The clues were straightforward and we were able to tie different clues together very seamlessly. It was very intuitive to figure out the solution process for each puzzle as well. And, as always, the different personalities that come through the various pieces of evidence (even with minor characters) are always entertaining. Though, as PSA, the candy theme made me hungry, so if you fall into easy cravings like me, definitely keep some chocolate on hand when you solve this box!

Pondering Points

One aspect of the mystery can be deduced early on in the experience. My partner and I had differing opinions on how we felt about this, so there may be some players who enjoy catching this where others may feel like it makes some other puzzles unnecessary. Regardless, I don’t think it detracts from the overall experience.

Final Verdict

As a mini-mystery, Sweet Tooth is a great introduction into the world of Valley Falls and is a great sampler of the types of boxes you can expect with the Deadbolt Mystery Society. 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!

8.5/10 (Great)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Spider (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Not so Itsy Bitsy

Theme:

After a seemingly quiet start to the winter season, Valley Falls is once again rocked with a series of five “accidental” deaths. Cards bearing the images of spiders are found in the pockets of each corpse, indicating something more sinister must be going on. Soon, a letter is sent to the police chief from someone calling themselves The Spider. It’s up to you and the Will Street Detective Agency to bring yet another serial killer to justice, and attempt to bring peace to Valley Falls once more!

First Impressions:

35 boxes in, and The Deadbolt Mystery Society is still going strong! It’s been amazing to see how far these boxes have come in the past few years, and we are always still so excited to see a new one hit our doorstep! After a run of three more spooky boxes, it was fun to get back to the usual Valley Falls murder cases, and this one definitely kept us on our toes!

High Points:

The Deadbolt Mystery Society always comes up with interesting story lines to accompany their murder mysteries, and The Spider is no exception. The murderers of Valley Falls are no slouches when it comes to getting creative with their killings, and their methods and motives are always extremely interesting. From the enigmatic start to the incredibly dramatic epilogue, The Spider definitely brings some great twists and turns to the proceedings, jumping to places we definitely did not expect the story to go! For those who enjoy wordplay, the punning is strong with this box as well.

The box is, for the most part, pretty linear, though there are a few points at which there are a couple puzzles to work on simultaneously. For my wife and I, this certainly didn’t cause any issues, however, as all the puzzles were workable with two sleuths. Paring down our suspect pool using the clues and puzzles was clear and smooth, and the puzzles tied into the mystery convincingly, as everything was woven into the theme well. On part in particular was fantastic, and the method to move on was hidden right in plain sight, waiting for us to determine it’s significance and reveal an excellent new secret! The difficulty curve worked well, with things starting out with a few easy wins, and ramping up the challenge as we moved through the experience. The props were excellent, with one in particular that was a lot of fun to play around with, and we found the puzzles and code breaking to be varied and intuitive.

Low Points:

One puzzle had an error with the color, which caused some initial confusion, but was fairly easy to overcome, and was most likely an error on the printer’s side. For enthusiasts looking for a challenge, The Spider is probably the most straightforward of recent Deadbolt Mystery Society boxes, and while we enjoyed it, it was definitely a quicker solve for us. The characters were a little flat in this adventure, and while I enjoyed the mystery, the suspects weren’t as memorable as some previous cases.

Verdict:

The Spider is a great starter box for newcomers to The Deadbolt Mystery Society, as it is a fun, beginner friendly mystery with plenty of awesome puzzles, as well as a twisty story sure to keep players guessing! Deadbolt veterans will still enjoy the game, however, as though it is more straightforward, it is still and excellent time, and provides a fun challenge for the holidays! 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 – 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.