I’m blown away. I played The Case of Percy De Vere, one of the at home murder mystery games from Tall Tales Mysteries, and without hyperbole I can say it’s the best at home murder mystery game I’ve played, beating out strong competition from companies like Hunt a Killer and Unsolved Case Files.
This wasn’t my first experience with Tall Tales Mysteries. Sara West, the owner and mastermind for Tall Tales Mysteries, has been innovating in the murder mystery space for a long time. She had been hosting mystery events in Darlington, UK, for some time, and when the pandemic lockdowns happened, Sara started hosting online murder mystery events. All of a sudden, it was possible for worldwide participation in the mystery events.
Tall Tales Mysteries continued to innovate and grow. In addition to standard murder mystery events, Tall Tales Mysteries hosted weekend long deluxe mysteries featuring guest appearances from luminaries like famous authors and real-life forensic experts. I even had the opportunity to sign up to play a minor character in two of the weekend-long events! Then came an innovative online murder mystery game in which you can follow branching dialogue to conduct your own investigation into a murder case.
Needless to say, I was excited when I saw Sara had launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop and release at home murder mystery kits. The campaign also included some really unique options for purchasers, including one I couldn’t resist- being a suspect in one of the cases. I donned my best punk rock outfit (including fake piercings and eyeliner) and eagerly anticipated whether I’d be innocent or guilty.
Right from the start, even before opening the box, I could tell there was something special about this game. The sheer heft of the box hints at how much more content this game contains than the average home mystery game. The average home murder mystery game contains probably fifteen pages of paper, five photos, and 2-3 trinkets. I’d venture to say that the very first envelope of clues contains more individual elements than any other murder mystery home game I’ve played. Even outside of the clues and envelopes, the case contained other nice bonuses like a stack of post it notes, a Tall Tales Mysteries pen, and a large map of the town serving as the setting for the Tall Tales Investigations series.
The quality of the contents was almost shocking- actual fingerprints captured on fingerprint tape, sealed individually in marked bags. A complete ledger notebook maintained by the victim. A bag of crumpled notes pulled from the fireplace. With the sheer volume of content and how well organized it was, it really felt like going through an archive searching for clues.
Another really cool touch was being able to explore the scene of the crime. Two of the objects provide a link to a website with a 3D image you can navigate and click on clues discovered at the crime scene to learn more and reconstruct the events of the murder. I’ve never seen anything like this before and was extremely impressed.
Even though the game doesn’t have a specific required order to review the clues and contents, many clues are grouped together by envelope, and the envelopes paced the game well. Each new envelope brought to light one or two major new details, so even without a guided order there were plenty of twists and turns along the way.
The final solution was extremely clever and well-clued. We missed a few of the clues on the murderer but found enough of the important ones to correctly identify whodunnit and why. The case was tremendously satisfying and I can’t wait to try another.
One other innovation in the Tall Tales Mysteries Investigations is a “hidden” case – each of the six standalone cases contains clues to a seventh case that can only be solved with clues mentioned in the other six. We got a dossier showing us the high level details of the hidden case, and a few of the elements in Percy De Vere’s murder hint at a potential motive and a few potential suspects. When the time comes for us to solve case #7, I anticipate having to rent a conference room at the library to spread out all our clues and assemble our best theories.
I can’t speak highly enough of my experience with The Case of Percy De Vere. As of now, four of six games in the Investigations series are available for purchase here – I’ll be posting as I solve the other ones!
One last callout – I’m not compensated or asked for these reviews- this is solely my opinion as someone who purchased and played one of the games!