The Detective Society – Trouble in Folklore Falls: Episode 1 [Review]

Just right

Location: at home

Date Played: July 2, 2022

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 1-2

Duration: 1-2 hours

Price: £35 plus shipping

REA Reaction

The Detective Society’s Trouble in Folklore Falls: Part 1 told a charmingly punny mystery in a land filled with fairytale characters. To paraphrase Goldilocks: it wasn’t too easy, it wasn’t too hard, it was just right.

As narrative tabletop games go, Trouble in Folklore Falls did almost everything right and succeeded in delivering a polished, cohesive experience. More interactive story than puzzle game, the gameplay mostly centered around reviewing documents and making connections. Though this involved a fair amount of reading, the writing was engaging and well edited, sleekly displayed in a range of formats. The design thoughtfully balanced world-building with restraint: the web of characters and evidence had a satisfying level of detail and depth without ever feeling too overwhelming. Certain puzzles felt a bit too simplistic for my taste, but in context, I was fine with being left wanting more.

This level of design polish also carried over to the game’s non-print materials. The illustration, web design, tech, and voice acting were all top notch. I would readily listen to an audio book or podcast narrated by the voice of the game’s protagonist.

Detective Society box with assorted pieces of evidence, and a map of Folklore Falls.

Above all, Trouble in Folklore Falls excelled at storytelling. The pacing was near perfect, and a tantalizing cliffhanger at the end of Part 1 left me wanting to immediately procure a copy of the next installment.

There were opportunities to tighten up some of the game’s framing logistics. The onboarding spanned more documents than needed, and a solution to phone calls for an international audience left SMS unaddressed. But my frustration with these elements was relatively minor, and the Trouble in Folklore Falls played smoothly overall.

If you are looking for substantive puzzles, Trouble in Folklore Falls may not be for you. But for players who enjoy a lighthearted, humorous story, I highly recommend Trouble in Folklore Falls.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Fairytale fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The whimsical mystery
  • Sleek graphic design

Story

Private Investigator B.B. Wolfe enlisted us to help solve a series of dognappings happening in the town of Folklore Falls. The various residents of the town — characters from classic fairytales — had no shortage of secrets as we attempted to discover the identity of the culprit, known only as The Spider.

Setup

The physical components for Trouble in Folklore Falls were all contained within a flat mailer. An introductory letter clearly instructed how to get started. Some materials were available from the start. Others were gated away in envelopes marked “Do Not Open Until Instructed.”

A phone or computer with internet access are required to play. Non-UK players will also need to have Whatsapp installed. You’ll be visiting websites, making calls, and sending texts throughout the game.

Gameplay

The Detective Society’s Trouble in Folklore Falls was a standard play-at-home escape game with a low-to-moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around reviewing evidence, making connections, and solving puzzles.

Analysis

➕ Every surface of the Trouble in Folklore Falls experience was polished and showed a fine attention to detail, from the graphic design to the writing to the voice acting.

➕/➖ The game’s onboarding was clearly laid out. However, I found it to be a bit more redundant and diffuse than necessary, spanning 3 different in- and out-of-world documents.

➕/➖ The Detective Society provided a web-based switchboard as a substitute for making phone calls for non-UK players. For texting, non-UK players had to find their own solutions, likely using Whatsapp. Given how many American players may not be used to texting international numbers, a web-based alternative for the SMS conversations could have been helpful, especially given that the interface for phone calls was already there.

➕ The puzzles were light yet satisfying, similar in style to the evidence gathering and deductive reasoning you’d find in classic murder mysteries. With a plethora of websites to visit and phone numbers to text or call, the gameplay felt dynamic even when it was easy. Clear signposting aided players in sorting through moderately complicated networks of data.

➖ Trouble in Folklore Falls fell partial victim to one common narrative trap: the reason for why the players are actually needed to assist a fully competent detective who could just as easily solve the case themself. The game tried to provide an explanation, but it wasn’t quite sufficient for me.

➕ The story ended on a nail-biting cliffhanger, while also providing a reasonable ending to this installment.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: A small table
  • Required Gear: Paper, pencil, and an Internet-connected device (preferably both a phone and a laptop)

Buy your copy of The Detective Society’s Trouble in Folklore Falls, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Detective Society provided a sample for review.

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