When: October/November 2014
Team: Eight people (seven friends)
Location: Downtown East
Organised by an escape room company but structured as a murder mystery, I Know Who Killed You This Halloween was a worthwhile experience due to the novelty of its format, if nothing else. There were two main components to the mystery: investigating crime scenes to earn interrogation tokens, and then using said tokens to interrogate the suspects.
The crime scenes themselves each had two parts: simple decoding work, livened up in some cases by the use of senses other than sight; and a less conventional exercise in figuring out how the particular death had taken place, based on UV-marked items in the setting. I personally found the latter aspect refreshing and enjoyable, though some team members thought it was too open-ended.
The ‘interrogations’ turned out to not actually be interactive. We merely heard each actor say their scripted part. That was entertaining enough, though, so I can’t fault them for it.
By then we’d worked out that the info from the videos (more on those later) and interrogations would have to be assembled so that we could work out who the murderer was, in the style of those table-based, “Mr Smith lives next to the accountant in the green house” sort of logic puzzles. Since that’s a pure logic exercise and nothing new if you’re at all into puzzles, it didn’t feel like a particularly fun or exciting endgame.
That having been said, perhaps we fell too much into this logic-puzzle trap, because there was actually another aspect to the mystery which we failed to get: the importance of motives. This key to the solution lay outside our logic table, and required actual attention (and respect) to be given to the storylines. I personally think that this is where we fell down, in thinking too much in terms of puzzle-solving and too little in terms of a murder mystery.
So. As far as the intellectual challenges went, Who Killed You was a worthy enough experience. But its greatest weaknesses, to me, were in the logistical difficulties involved, and what this meant for players’ enjoyment.
First, there were videos played every ten minutes or so. This meant that one of us had to make the sacrifice of staying behind at the team table to watch the videos, while the rest of us got to do more fun stuff.
Second, there were often queues to investigate each crime scene or interrogate suspects, meaning unnecessary wasted time.
Both of the above also meant that no one player had a full experience of the event. You might get to see two out of five crime scenes and interrogate two out of five suspects, say.
On the one hand, I do think that all this adds an extra layer of strategy, in that you have to balance between priorities and figure out how to allocate your human resources, and that seems like a legitimate game aspect to include. But in practice, it simply isn’t that fun. Proper information sharing ended up being our biggest obstacle, and that’s just not a satisfying problem to face — when I go for an escape event, I expect the actual puzzles to be the challenge, not the resource management.
On the whole, I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed Who Killed You. But it was nonetheless an intriguing experience and a fresh approach to puzzle events, and I’m still keen to see what other events the organisers come up with.
Result: One of two teams to clear the main phase, but we did not get the correct final answer (unlike the other team, which did).
I Know Who Killed You This Halloween