Preview of Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold, a Tabletop Investigation Game

My wife and mother in law really dug into Body of Evidence

Mysterious Package Company is launching a new series of games called Body of Evidence. These are tabletop investigation games where you not only get to play detective but also coroner.

Read on to find out what we thought of this new and innovative take on the murder mystery game genre.

Disclosure: Thanks to Mysterious Package Company for sending us a prototype copy of Body of Evidence to check out and preview. We are a Mysterious Package Company affiliate and links in this post may be affiliate links. Finally thank you to MPC for providing us with a special discount code: BELLHOP, which you can use to get 10% off at The Mysterious Package Company’s Online Store.

Our copy of Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold was a Prototype and was damaged upon delivery.

Before I get started I need to be very clear that the copy of Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold that we were sent by Mysterious Package Company is a prototype copy.

Trying to dry out our copy of Body of Evidence from Mysterious Package Company.

Mysterious Package Company was very clear that pretty much everything in the box we got was just a placeholder for something that would both look and feel better. We were assured that higher quality paper would be used and that all artwork would be at a higher resolution than what we received.

In addition to this, the copy of Body of Evidence that we received was delivered in the middle of a huge storm and as far as we can tell was dropped off while we were taking cover during a Tornado warning. We didn’t find the box until the next morning and it was soaked through.

Due to the game being an unfinished prototype, it wasn’t in shrink wrap or really protected in any way and pretty much all of the components in our copy of this game did get water damaged.

That said we were able to successfully play the game. Nothing was completely ruined and except for some faded text, everything was still usable.

The thing to be aware of is that all images you see here, except those provided by Mysterious Package Company, are going to show this water damage. You need to know that the final game components definitely won’t look as rough as what you see here.

What is Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold?

The Body of Evidence box and a glimpse at the corpse from Mysterious Package Company

Best Served Cold is the first game in a new planned series of murder mystery games from Mysterious Package Company called Body of Evidence. What makes this series unique is that you not only get to play detective, but you also get to be the coroner on the case.

This is a tabletop investigation game for one to four players with a playtime of two to three hours. The game is broken into three parts which means you can either play it through all at once or stop between stages.

The age rating on this murder mystery is fourteen plus. While there isn’t much gore or blood, the case does involve a murder and you will be performing a mock autopsy as part of the game.

Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold is currently live on Kickstarter and has smashed through its initial goal on the first day. There is only one pledge level at $50 Canadian or $35 US, which I’ve been told is 10% off what the retail cost will be.

In Best Served Cold you take on the role of a police detective investigating the recent death of a popular local Chef. Currently, the cause of death is listed as accidental but suspicions have been raised that there’s something more to the case. You will sift through three different evidence piles to try to deduce six key elements of the case including the cause of death and who the perpetrator is, if there was one. During each step, you will also have to complete an autopsy on the victim’s corpse.

The body from the first Body of Evidence game from Mysterious Package Company.

All of this evidence is divided up into three case folders. Inside each, you will find a large variety of things such as pictures of the victim’s belongings, where the body was found, a map of the restaurant, witness statements, suspect interviews, and other clues. There is also a coroner’s guidebook that walks you through how to do the autopsy part of the game. With that, you also get a surprisingly large fold out multi-layered paper body.

To play this Body of Evidence game you will also need a hobby knife or something to cut the paper body and you will probably want a pencil and pad of paper to take notes.

Just in case it’s not obvious, you will be destroying components of this game as you play it. This includes cutting up the paper body as well as writing in the log book and a time chart. Unlike many other puzzle based games I can’t really see any way to preserve Best Served Cold.

The Kickstarter page notes, “We care about waste, and sometimes a deductive mystery can only be experienced once. That’s why we’ve included a full instruction kit so that you can regift your copy to a friend or loved one.” I can’t quite see how that would work with cutting up the paper body. Our prototype copy didn’t include an instruction kit on how to regift it, so I can’t really say how that part works.

How Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold Works

The first thing you find in Body of Evidence is some feet and a toe tag.

Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold from Mysterious Package Company comes with an instruction book that looks like a cold storage cabinet at the morgue. In it you will not only find instructions on how to play through this murder mystery but also a set of feet with a toe tag. I found this a great way to get you into the feel and mood of the game right away.

From the instructions you will learn that the case has been broken into three independent parts and that you will need to complete each section one at a time in order. Each part will require you to find the answers to two questions about the case.

At the end, you will take all of the information you have and answer a final series of questions. It will take combining the information from both the physical evidence and the autopsy to answer the final questions and solve the mystery.

About to open the red envelope at the end of Body of Evidence, Best Served Cold

Once you think you have everything figured out there’s a red sealed package to open that will not only give you the final solution but some other information you may or may not have figured out during the case.

In each section of Best Served Cold, you will be presented with a set of evidence pertinent to that part of the investigation. You will also read through a section of the coroner’s guidebook and complete part of the autopsy. You will need to answer a question, or two, before you can move on to the next set of evidence.

To make sure you are on the right track the game comes with a set of evidence cards which are based on the questions you are answering. Once you have an answer you just find the appropriate card and then match it up with the cards you already have.

This card system makes sure you are on the right track when playing Best Served Cold

The cards are designed to look like an investigation cork board complete with red threads. When placing your evidence cards if the threads match up you are on the right track. If they don’t match up you will need to go back to the evidence and figure out what you’ve missed.

What you won’t find in this Body of Evidence game is any other form of clue system. The cards tell you if you are right or wrong but don’t actually provide hints to get you to that point. That said, I don’t think clues are really needed here. This isn’t really a puzzle game, while there are a couple of puzzle elements to the autopsy, this isn’t some kind of escape-room-in-a-box game that needs a detailed hint system.

What we thought of Body of Evidence

Removing internal organs during an autopsy in Body of Evidence a tabletop investigation game.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up to preview Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold. Mysterious Package Company was being well, mysterious. I think they didn’t want to spoil the surprise of opening up the box to find a large paper body inside it. Which I do have to say was a bit of a shock.

My only other experience with the Mysterious Package Company is from The Ghost in the Machine, which is part of their Post Mortem London Gothic Series. That game is much more like a super deluxe which-way book, and despite also being a murder mystery, it is almost nothing like Best Served Cold.

Best Served Cold reminds me most of the Hidden Games Crime Scene games which you can read about in our The Maplebrook Case review. While there is some great physicality to the game, it’s mostly a whole bunch of various forms of paper evidence, and solving the case involves a lot of reading and sifting through papers.

The body in Best Served Cold, mid autopsy

Of course with Best Served Cold that sifting through evidence is combined with the whole “be the coroner” thing, which I’ve got to say was very cool and quite well done. There’s a level of immersion here, with you actually cutting through layers of paper and peeling things back and then later removing organs, that I’ve never experienced in a murder mystery game before.

I’m also impressed they managed to do it without going over the top and making it gory and gross. Our kids had no interest in taking part in our play of the game due to the autopsy aspect but now having played through it I think they would have been fine.

My only real disappointment was that the immersion was broken once you got down to actually figuring out the clues from the body. While some aspects were done well and felt at least somewhat realistic like matching the colour of bruising to a chart, other parts were really gamified like connecting the dots on a set of lungs.

Working on the first chapter of Body of Evidence, Best Served Cold from the Mysterious Package Company

I did appreciate that the case was broken into three pretty distinct parts. While we managed to complete the entire game in one sitting in a bit under three hours, we could have stopped, packed the whole thing up, and then easily picked it up again on another day because of the way things were broken up.

One part that wasn’t entirely clear in the instructions is that when you get down to your final answer you are going to need pieces of information from all of the past chapters. This is a minor thing, but we had packed up each chapter as we completed it and later wished we had either left it all out or made more notes of our solutions at each step.

This staged investigation system did lead to the game feeling rather linear. Best Served Cold does a lot of hand holding as you work through the case. This is especially true for the autopsy as the coroner’s guide pretty much walked you through what you should be looking for at each stage.

Sifting through evidence while playing Best Served Cold a murder mystery game.

Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, being this linear does mean that it’s hard to get completely lost and unsure of what to do next. Which is something we’ve sometimes found frustrating in other puzzle based games. However, it does mean that you do lose some sense of exploration and it’s harder for multiple people to work on different parts of the crime at the same time.

The other forms of evidence were less structured and allowed for more exploration and discovery including some great red hearings and interesting twists. Best Served Cold did a great job of making you suspect one thing at the start of the game and then changing things up as you were presented with more and more evidence. In that way, it told a great story that was engaging from start to finish.

There were a lot of witness statements to read in the second chapter of Best Served Cold a tabletop investigation game

We played through the game with three players, with my wife and mother-in-law doing the bulk of the work. I was mainly there to watch them play and to take notes for this preview, but I did get involved in a few parts myself.

The game is recommended for one to four players, and three seemed to be about right. I think you are going to want at least two players just for that whole other set of eyes with a different perspective thing. With more than two you can all work together or try to split the work. I could definitely see one team working on the physical evidence while another works on the autopsy, though I think most groups are going to want to do everything together for fear of missing out on something cool.

Overall I was impressed by Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold. While I haven’t played a lot of murder mystery games I did really enjoy this one. I was especially impressed by what Mysterious Package Company is doing with this new Body of Evidence series. Getting to play coroner as well as detective is a really cool addition to the tabletop investigation game genre.

Just starting off in Body of Evidence a new murder mystery game from Mysterious Package Co

If you enjoy whodunnit, murder mystery, cold case file style, games you will love Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold. It includes all of the stuff you know and love from this style of game and then tosses in an entirely new level by having you play coroner as well as detective.

For those of you who have never tried one of these tabletop investigation games, I think Body of Evidence: Best Served Cold is a great place to start. Because of the way the investigation is broken up into three parts, there’s a clear linear progression to how the clues are presented and it clearly tells you what you should be looking for in each part. I think that makes this a great introduction to the murder mystery game genre.

Doing an initial visual inspection of the corpse in Body of Evidence.

If sifting through evidence, reading witness reports and spotting things in photographs isn’t your thing you will probably want to skip Body of Evidence. This is very much a murder mystery investigation game and not a series of puzzles or an escape room in a box experience like say La Famiglia.

This game also isn’t for anyone who is turned off by the idea of pretending to cut into a cadaver. The autopsy is a major part of this game, as I suspect it will be in all of the Body of Evidence games. It’s not something you can skip over or avoid. If that’s not for you, I encourage you to check out the other investigation games over at Mysterious Package Company where you can use our exclusive code BELLHOP to save 10% off.

Do you enjoy tabletop investigation games? Do you love sifting through clues, sorting evidence, comparing reports and eventually solving the crimes? Have you ever wanted to dive deeper and get to play the coroner as well, or is that a step too far for you and your game group?

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