ThinkFun – A Cold Case: A Story to Die For [Hivemind Review]

A Cold Case: A Story to Die For is a tabletop mystery game created by ThinkFun.

A cat sitting on top of the game's components.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Tabletop mystery game
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: about 1-2 hours, maybe more with all the reading

Price: ~$15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Your job is to solve an old murder case. To do so, you examine all the evidence in the case file and answer four questions about the particulars of the case. When you have your answers, you input them into a website for confirmation.

There were no “puzzles” along the way to the solution, just reading and comparing evidence. Note that there is a lot of reading.

Cold Case: A Story To Die For cover art and a police report.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Thinkfun’s A Case to Die For is not a standard boxed tabletop escape game, but a cold case file that you are tasked with solving. To do so, you must do what every good detective does: examine the evidence. And by that, I mean you have to read. A lot. Reading the interview transcripts was about 75% of our play time. There are accompanying photos and other documents as well to round out the evidence.

A cat walking atop the game's components.

This is a game that is all about using abductive reasoning skills – or maybe another kind of reasoning? I only know what Wikipedia tells me. You have to take in all of the evidence and produce a few answers to solve the murder by entering your answers into a website. You choose your answers from a dropdown menu, which can function as a sort of hint system as it may provide you with a possibility you hadn’t thought of on your own.

Because of the style of play this game provides, it might not be perfect for every escape room enthusiast. It’s not my preferred style, but I enjoyed playing it and it solved cleanly with no logical leaps or specious reasoning that I could detect. I’d say that if you’re a fan of the true crime genre, this would be a good game for you.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Solving a cold case seems like a great base for a set of puzzles or similar. However, in this case it is clearly not a set of escape room-style puzzles – just a series of pieces of evidence that when combined correctly reveal the killer and motive. The materials provided were very professionally done. The story was solid. However, in my opinion, the amount of actual solving versus reading was pretty low. The game turned on a few minor points and also included a red herring or two that were never explained. The game does not have a hint system; however, when you answer the key questions about the murder, it gives you feedback if you are wrong about what to look at. Much of the game is about attention to detail beyond a typical escape room and there were no interim wins like opening a lock or solving one of many smaller puzzles. While I have not played many games of this type (versus more traditional escape rooms), I cannot recommend this one as the pure puzzling enjoyment seemed minimal and the solution, while logical, had holes for me.

Tammy McLeod’s Reaction

This was an interesting game. The game materials are of good quality. It is nicely self-contained, and did not require anything besides careful reading and deductive reasoning. The contents include a numbered list of evidence materials, and by reading through them in sequential order, I felt that a coherent story was revealed in a deliberate manner. This might work against playing this as a group, as people would reasonably split up the materials and read them out of order. I don’t think this hinders gameplay at all, but could possibly deliver the story in a manner that isn’t as impactful as it could be. I enjoyed playing this and look forward to the rest of the series.

ThinkFun is offering a 20% discount for Amazon pre-orders of Cold Case: A Story to Die For using the promo code 20COLDCASE thru July 1. 2021.

Disclosure: Think Fun provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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