Cypher House Escape – Murder at the Paisley’s [Review]

Dinner & a murder

Location: at home

Date Played: September 15, 2018

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: $29.99

REA Reaction

Murder at the Paisley’s brought a light-hearted murder dinner puzzle game to our dining room table. While largely paper-based, it incorporated some tangible prop-based interactions and offered more puzzle depth than many other at-home escape rooms.

Visually, Murder at the Paisley’s wasn’t all that purdy, but this was more than made up for in gameplay quality.

If you’re looking for a small-group tabletop escape room, we recommend Murder at the Paisley’s.

Murder at the Paisley's box opened, revealing a party invitation and character envelopes.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Interesting puzzles
  • Tabletop escape game meets mystery dinner structure
  • Approachable and family-friendly

Story

The Paisley family loved entertaining friends and neighbors on their large farm. We were visiting for dinner when one of the Paisleys was found dead. We had to solve the murder mystery.

Character envelopes for Mathew O'Dean, head of the farmer's union, and Julie Nanda crop market salesperson.

Setup

Murder at the Paisley’s arrived in a cardboard box containing a collection of sealed envelopes and some printed materials. We logged into their web interface, where we would receive additional audio context and submit solutions.

The materials of the game were clearly handmade, mostly out of paper, with a creative use of cotton balls, and some farm-related toys thrown in for more tangible interactions.

The coversheet for part 2, features an image of a farm.

Gameplay

Cypher House Escape’s Murder at the Paisley’s was a tabletop escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Each player received a character envelope with some special items, secret information, and character traits for groups that want to roleplay throughout the game. (We didn’t roleplay.)

Murder at the Paisley’s played out in two parts: a warm-up dinner party puzzle followed by a more in-depth puzzle investigation. There was a scheduled intermission between the two stages should the organizer want to actually serve dinner.

The puzzles were largely paper-based, but included the occasional more tangible components.

Core gameplay revolved around listening, reading, making connections and puzzling.

Puzzle components including tiles with animal feed, little plastic farm animals, and farm maps.

Analysis

+ We enjoyed the structure: We played a warmup puzzle to get to know the mechanics and the characters. We had the option to break for dinner. Then the real mystery unraveled.

Murder at the Paisley’s offered a lot of puzzle content.

+ The puzzles took standard concepts, but offered unique twists. The clue structure was clear and the puzzles solved cleanly.

+ The puzzles were thematically appropriate.

– At times, the puzzle components didn’t fit together as neatly as they should. Cypher House Escape could use tighter tolerances when designing interrelated components.

+ The tchotchkes mattered. They were part of the puzzles.

– The puzzles were not narrative-driven. They didn’t really make sense in the context of solving the murder.

– While the gameplay was high quality, aesthetically Murder at the Paisley’s felt homemade and unrefined when compared with many of their competitors.

+ All instructional and background content was available to read or listen to. We could choose or do both.

+ Cypher House Escape merged tabletop escape game with murder mystery dinner, giving us each a role in the staging and additional knowledge that would come into play later as clue structure.

– Although we liked the character concept, it could use refinement. The secret information felt a bit hokey. If you play with more than 4 players, you’ll find the characters to be unbalanced. A couple of them seemed like filler content.

+ This was an adorable, family-friendly murder mystery.

Tips for Playing

  • Keep track of your solutions on the sheet provided.
  • It was easier to use a computer than a phone for the website interactions, but Murder at the Paisley’s could be played with either.
  • There is a built-in pause for dinner, should you choose to make an evening of the game.

Purchase your copy of Cypher House Escape’s Murder at the Paisley’s, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Cypher House Escape sent us a complimentary reviewer’s copy of this game.

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