It’s Thursday! It also happens to be be the unofficial national Puzzle Day. The theme for this Thursday will be a Murder Mystery. Credit goes to Daniel Egnor who runs the Puzzle Hunt Calendar and the Escape Room Directory! It was an idea we discussed while talking about theming and narrative, and he has given me the go-ahead to develop the idea for Themed Thursday!
The idea is that instead of escaping a room, you have to solve a murder. There are existing escape rooms that are loosely murder-themed, but these tend to only be window dressing for random puzzle solving. Instead of that, this room will have an actual (fake) crime scene. There will have been a murderer, a victim, motive, means, and so forth. Players are investigators who have access to scene of the crime.
At the end of the hour, players have to present their case and accusation to the staff to be graded. Essentially, if you have a strong enough case, the murderer is placed behind bars, and if the case is too weak, you’re crappy detectives and the murderer gets away scott free. There would be main points the players would have to make for the conviction to stick, but additional points that could make a case especially ironclad.
The premise is great, but being confined to just the crime scene wouldn’t feel like quite enough for me. I’d want players to have access to a second room, the Lab. The lab woud have a computer, phone, fingerprint analysis machine, and whatever else might fit into the narrative that the police might use in their investigation. You’d definitely these items integrated into the game (phone numbers you have to call with the fake phone, items you might want to have analyzed for fingerprints, etc). You could put a delay on ‘getting results’ for the finger print analysis machine if you were worried that players would try and ‘spam’ items into it (4 minute delay between placing an item in there and getting results).
I’m not actually going to try and put a story for this, but I think many many already exist that would fit this kind of game. Locked room mysteries are a whole sub-genre of mysteries, and there are a ton of interesting ‘twists’ that have been used before. It also meshes very well with the idea that you only have the one crime scene room.
The premise is interesting to me because it doesn’t follow the standard ‘escape room’ archetype. Escape rooms in general have a lot of built-in expectations and rules, but some of them are random or unnecessary. A strong example of this is that players have to ‘escape’ at all. The games themselves are composed of solving puzzles and completing tasks – nothing is necessarily lost from the game if players aren’t actually locked inside a room. In fact, it actually seems very unnecessary when you consider that some businesses are probably skirting safety and building code to do so.
What kind of room would you want to see out there? Email me at EscapistTO@gmail.com and let me know.
**A link to a Themed Thursday post over at EGR https://torontoescapegames.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/your-mission-if-you-choose-to-accept-it-by-liz/