Hunt a Menace
Location: at home
Date Played: May 20, 2023
Team size: 1+; we recommend 2-4
Duration: 60-90 minutes
If you enjoy tabletop detective games, Mystery at Magnolia Gardens was an approachable, family-friendly version. There had been a poisoning… but nobody had died. Nancy Drew had completed all the hard work collecting evidence, and we got to do the fun part: crack the case.
While the gameplay relied heavily on reading, as detective games tend to, a few puzzles scattered throughout delivered fun aha moments. One puzzle significantly overstayed its welcome, but this was the only time the gameplay was overly tedious.
Puzzlers take note: The puzzles in this game acted as little gates. They weren’t particularly exciting. This was a detective game through and through. And this is good because their hint system has some pretty gross gating (read on to learn more).
We stayed engaged with Mystery at Magnolia Gardens primarily because writing had character. We laughed at the characters’ actions, motives, and relationships.
For anyone at the height of their Nancy Drew phase, or looking back nostalgically on that time in their life, this would be a delightful way to bring the satisfaction of being a detective to your own dining room table.
Who is this for?
- Murder mystery fans
- Any experience level
- To tap into your inner detective
- Family friendly “murder” mystery
Nancy Drew had been investigating a poisoning at Magnolia Gardens when she became sick too, falling victim to the same poison. Luckily, Nancy had documented all the evidence. Now it was up to us, her apprentices, to look over the evidence and determine which person at the botanical garden had committed the crime.
We opened the box and spread all the materials out on the table. The instructions gave us a clear starting point.
Hunt A Killer‘s Mystery at Magnolia Gardens was a play-at-home detective game with an easy level of difficulty.
Gameplay involved reading all the evidence, and organizing it into a chart to reveal which suspect had the opportunity, means, and motive to commit the crime.
The gameplay included some light puzzling.
Note taking was essential.
➕ It was easy to open the box and get started. Everything we needed (except a pen and paper) was in the box. The instructions were clear. We understood our goal and how to achieve it.
❓ There was a lot of read. This is pretty typical for detective tabletop games. Your enjoyment of this game will hinge on how much you like reading and organizing information.
➕ By including puzzle elements, the gameplay had more depth than simply read and organize evidence. We appreciated the aha moments with the puzzles. The puzzles were simply, but cleanly designed.
➖ Hunt A Killer went overboard with one puzzle. We knew what to do immediately, but executing on this took far too long. It was more tedious than fun. The action was narratively justified, but it could have been streamlined, to the same effect.
➕ The writing was strong. Each character had their own distinctive voice. Heather was especially funny. The character personalities kept us engaged in the plot.
➕ Hunt A Killer made little decisions that delighted us. For example, even the character names were on theme. We got a kick out of this detail.
➕ The art looked good.
➖ The majority of the components in the box were paper, but Hunt A Killer included a few tangible objects as well, which didn’t add anything to the experience. One was essential to the plot, but not because it was an object. The other was not necessary at all. We don’t appreciate accumulating useless objects and would have preferred a purely paper-based mystery product.
➖ After completing the game, we tried to check out the hint system. It was unnecessarily complicated to get to. After typing in the url in the instruction booklet, we had to navigate more clicks (digging into menus) to get to the right page. When we finally arrived on the page, we had to subscribe to marketing emails to access the hints. No, thank you! If we’d been frustrated players looking for a hint to continue our fun, we’d have become irate players. Hunt A Killer… you do realize that players who find this already purchased your product? Just give them a good experience.
❓ We can’t comment on how well the hints worked, as we didn’t bother once we saw the subscription gate.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a table
- Required Gear: pen & paper, internet connected device for hints
Buy your copy of Hunt A Killer’s Mystery at Magnolia Gardens, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Hunt A Killer provided a sample for review.
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