ThinkFun – Cold Case: A Pinch of Murder [Hivemind Review]

Cold Case: Pinch of Murder is a tabletop mystery game created by ThinkFun.

An assortment of crime evidence. In the center of the frame are two photos of an old kitchen.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Tabletop mystery game
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

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 and some related crimes. To do so, you examine all the evidence in the case file and answer three questions about the crimes. 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.

An assortment of crime evidence. In the center of the frame is a photo of a collection of jewelry with a watch circled in red.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

A Pinch of Murder is the second in the Cold Case series from Thinkfun and is an improvement to the format. The basic idea remains the same: inside the box is series of materials that are evidence in an old murder case. Your job is to sift through it all and determine who is responsible for the crime, as well as some related misdeeds.

This iteration of Cold Case makes the evidence much more manageable. My main complaint about the first game was that there was just too much reading. A Pinch of Murder still has some required reading, but it is greatly reduced. They’ve almost doubled the number of pieces of evidence, but there is more variety of evidence types. Overall, this felt more like putting pieces of a puzzle together than an exercise in reading and re-reading comprehension.

The overall experience of this game was fun enough that I found myself wishing that the answer checking process was more robust. We had examined all the evidence and come up with airtight and elaborate solutions to the three questions the game posed. However, “solving“ this case is done by choosing three correct names from a series of dropdown boxes. The narrative that we wrote proving our hypothesis is reflected in the narrative provided by the game when you choose the correct answer, but simply choosing an option from a menu seems anticlimactic compared to the work we put into figuring the case out.

Tammy McLeod’s Reaction

Much like the first installment in this series (A Cold Case: A Story to Die For), playing this game required a lot of close reading of the material. I played this as a solo player, so I went through the items in sequential order, which made the story unfold in a specific way. I think playing it as a group would naturally result in people reading things out of order, and possibly having a more chaotic experience than I did. The solution, in the end, was logical, and not unreasonable. As an escape room player, I tend to prefer games with more puzzling for less reading, but for those who enjoy the written word, this would probably be fun.

Theresa W’s Reaction

I usually shy away from Cold Case/ Murder Mystery type games, but couldn’t turn down the chance to test out ThinkFun’s take on the genre. Although the game was lacking in puzzle content (which it never claimed it had – I just like puzzles), I thought the game was approachable and well designed for both master sleuths and newbies alike. We felt as if a bit of the material wasn’t used very well, but the threads we had to pull on were clear and nothing felt like a logic-leap. The amount of reading was just and not as overwhelming as the similar games I’ve played. If you’re interested in a cold case game that’s approachable, this is the game for you!

Disclosure: ThinkFun provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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