Hunt a Killer: An Escape Room For Your Living Room

If you meet the demographic requirements of what might broadly be defined as a “nerd,” you no doubt get a lot of interesting social media ads for high end “distractionary” products. Whether it’s a box for video game themed clothing, a box for old-timey letters from WWII, or a box of famous sword reproductions, the supposed disposable income of millennial nerds can very easily be squandered/surrendered before you know it. One such product that’s captured my eye however, is the “Hunt a Killer” murder mystery subscription game. The tag line of Hunt a Killer suggests that a serial killer will be delivering a package to you each month, and your job is to solve the puzzles contained within. Does this dreary day diversion manage to stack up against more traditional board games in fun and cost? Armed with 8 seasons of Law & Order re-runs, we decided to give it a go and actually buy one to find out.

The box and startup guide

At first glance, the presentation of the box is clean and professional looking. For around $30 per month, our expectations were high and “value for money” was at the top of the checklist when we were trying this out. Intrigued, we carefully opened the box and were inundated by several different envelopes and assorted goodies. When consulting the startup guide, there was a nicely written little bookmark that listed the inventory of everything that was supposed to be in the box, along with some password information for the computer-assisted portion of the gameplay. Going into this, I assumed this would be the “Blue Apron” of at-home murder mysteries: everything you need in one box. Unfortunately, this wish was soon rebuffed as we realized that we’d need several household items, along with some internet resources to accurately complete this month’s activities (once again feeding into my concern that this product is geared more exclusively to the higher income crowd).  Most of the contents were in document form, with a fairly decent introduction to how the mystery was going to play out. I say “decent” as it was still pretty far from perfect. With this being the first box in an-episodic-subscription service, I expected to get just a little more hand-holding to get us started, but alas we were immediately thrown right into the mix and told to start going over the files and artifacts included therein. 

The contents of the box o’ fun.

The presentation of the documents, and the perceived era of the artifacts included, gave us a fair amount of immersion into solving an old murder mystery, despite the fact that this is murder investigation is supposed to be taking place in the current day. Some letters are written in typewriter font, and the interests of one of the mystery’s characters means that you’ll be reviewing culture and media from the early 20th century. This was a fair balance to the notion that this game is made to feel like an escape room, which as a finer point, hits that target well. So long as your pleasure lies in the intricacies of the puzzle solving, and not the tension of a time limit, this game style will feel like a true “escape room at home” experience.

My wife and I are far from experts at this sort of thing, however we still completed the entire box within a couple of hours. These hours were well-spent however, as we did get a decent level of satisfaction out of the code cracking goodness and puzzle solving. When it came to cost, the $30 dollars felt like a reasonable entry fee, as the goodies and artifacts that came with the box were of fairly high quality and worth holding on to long after our mystery is eventually solved. While this particular mystery is apparently a 6 month ordeal, this company offers many premium options and should our appetite for this new experience ever become unfulfilled, we have plenty of opportunities to expand and continue.  As both my wife and I are on federal watch lists due to our competitive play style in more traditional board games, the “Find a Killer” subscription game has finally given us an activity in which we have to work together to have fun, and both feel like a winner afterwards. While we can’t say this will be a new hobby for us, at the very least we are going to keep our subscription going for the next month’s box.

Up yours, Settlers of Catan, this is a game that might actually SAVE my marriage! 

Rating: We fully recommend “Hunt a Killer” as a fun, immersive puzzle solving experience, so long as you’re fully prepared and understand the commitment. Happy hunting!

Follow Matt on Twitter for more game tips that won’t land you on the next episode of “Divorce Court.”

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