Hunting a Killer is a light puzzle hunt created by Codebreakers in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Style of Play: light puzzle hunt
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, mobile device
Recommended Team Size: 1-3
Play Time: about 1-2 hours.
You can take as long as you want, but there is a scoreboard of the highest score on their website (based on how fast you are and how many guesses it took you for each puzzle solution.)
Price: NZ$ 20.00 per team
Booking: purchase the game and play at your leisure
You help solve a series of murders by engaging with an “agent” via an online chat mechanism. The agent asks you to solve a linear series of clues about the murders by asking you questions about different portions of the killer’s website. You also explore a fabricated social network to get information about the victims.
This game may be played alone, or with teammates via Zoom and screen sharing.
Hivemind Review Scale
Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction
Help to solve the murder – an easy-to-follow premise to get right into!
At its best, I want to applaud the great infrastructure and the chatbot. It created a smooth online experience through and through. The puzzles had a nice, approachable difficulty. They were not frustratingly hard and even included a little personalized surprise at one point.
At its worst, all the puzzling led up to an “only one chance / make your choice” question. A loss because of one wrong move would be bad. (I don’t know what happens if you choose wrong though.) There’s also a phone call involved, which I like the idea of, but it didn’t add much to the game (beside some costs on the phone bill since it was an international call for me).
In general, be warned about strong language and mildly disturbing pictures here and there.
Sarah Mendez’s Reaction
For me, the fun of this game was in the sum of small but unique delights rather than my usual requirement of invigorating aha moments. Indeed, the puzzles were fairly standard (no standouts, but also no frustrations), and I thought the game could have increased our sense of discovery if it had allowed us immediate access to the killer’s whole website rather than linearly presenting one page at a time. However, this game included some rarities within online games that tipped the enjoyment scale for me. (1) I was impressed with its custom-built social media platform, such that I actually enjoyed some of the rabbit holes we explored with some of the characters. (2) It has an unobtrusive, point-based leaderboard system that ranks you against everyone who has ever played. Can I admit that I like earning points, meaningless though they may be? (3) Most rewardingly, the game found clever ways to personalize the experience. Thus, for the price, this was a fine way to spend an evening.
Cara Mandel’s Reaction
I found this online mystery solving puzzle game to actually be quite well done! I went in without much expectation. At first it seemed like it was going to be a fairly traditional sequence, but I found the use of custom-built websites and cleverly constructed puzzle mechanics to be quite engaging. The story was pretty straightforward, but the ways in which we solved each puzzle were increasingly enjoyable throughout. If the title isn’t clear enough, let me just specify that this one isn’t family-friendly. That said, if you like true crime, sleuthing, and puzzles with a narrative through line, you’ll probably really enjoy this one!
Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction
Hunting a Killer tasks you with finding the identity of a prolific serial killer before he can take out his next victim. Conveniently, there’s no big rush – you can play this one on your own time. Also conveniently, the killer has left a well-produced and elaborate website just laying around, and it’s packed with puzzles made by the killer. Each puzzle solved is another breadcrumb leading to the killer’s true identity.
There was a wide variety of puzzle types, all of which were on the easy-to-medium side of the difficulty scale. There were some interesting interactions with third party sites that most people will already be very familiar with, and this helped bring in a feeling of immersion. One of these puzzles even taught me something new about a site I’ve been using for years!
Overall, I would recommend this game to players just getting into puzzle solving, or for experienced players looking for a way to include friends that are not as experienced. However you play Hunting a Killer, make sure your phone is charged!
Matthew Stein’s Reaction
Hunting a Killer (not to be confused with the subscription box Hunt A Killer) is one of the better implementations of a sandboxed, ARG-influenced puzzle game I’ve seen. The game is mostly self-contained and centers around a text conversation with a detective, creepy interactive images from the serial killer, and a fake but fully working Facebook-esque social media site, plus the usual smattering of Google Maps searching. Drawing upon some classic serial killer film tropes, the gameplay was highly immersive as we pored over the profiles of each victim, most of whom were quite disgusting humans and didn’t exactly garner our sympathy. (In addition to the theme in general, this profile content alone is enough to make this game better suited for mature audiences.) Even though I’d seen pretty much all the puzzle and narrative elements before in other games or media, there was enough variety of gameplay and consistency of worldbuilding that the game never felt trite. At a fairly low price point per team, this game provides excellent value for 1-2 hours of gameplay.