This is a spoiler free look at the first murder mystery game in the Hidden Games Crime Scene series of games. Each of these is localized based on what country you are in and today we are looking at the Canadian version which is called The Maplebrooke Case.
The Maplebrooke Case is a modern murder mystery game where players work together looking through all of the evidence provided and try to answer four questions. While doing this they will also need to take advantage of various forms of modern technology.
Disclosure: Hidden Games Industries kindly sent us a copy of this game to check out. Links in this post may be affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support this blog and our podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
An overview of what you get with Hidden Games Crime Scene: The Maplebrooke Case:
The Hidden Games Crime Scene games are published and designed by Hidden Industries, a company out of Germany. They first launched this series of games in Germany in 2019 and have been expanding to other countries, finally hitting North America this year. There are a total of ten different versions of this first case, each localized to a different country. The copy I was sent is the Canadian version which is called The Maplebrooke Case.
When playing Case One of the Hidden Games Crime Scene games the players work together to answer four questions. How did the suspect die? Who sent you the envelope? Who sent you the torn letter? Who committed the crime? To solve the case the players are presented with a plethora of information both in the form of physical clues in different formats as well as digital breadcrumbs leading the player online and to their phones. In particular, The Maplebrooke Case has you solving the murder of Max Glover who died at the county fair in Maplebrooke B.C.
Since this is a mystery game and I don’t want to spoil anything, we haven’t recorded an unboxing video. In addition, the pictures I am sharing in this post shouldn’t give any information away or spoil the game in any way.
What I will say here is that the variety and quality of the evidence included with this game is impressive. Of all of the murder mystery games that I’ve played so far this one has the best components with the most variety. It doesn’t feel like someone just spent ten minutes at their laser printer and then stuffed everything in an envelope. Instead, inside the case file envelope you will find things printed on various types of paper, such as newsprint, letterhead, business cards, a flyer, lined paper, and more. You will also get a poster “corkboard” for taking notes on and a calendar for tracking dates.
One minor annoyance we had is the fact that the calendar and cork-board poster were the last things in the envelope and we didn’t find them until we had already filled out multiple scraps of paper with notes. So my one spoiler free suggestion is, don’t take out things out one at a time and scour each piece for clues before moving onto the next. Instead, take everything out of the envelope at once and go through it quickly before you start taking notes.
My only complaint about the physical components for this game is that the poster is printed on glossy poster paper and your average ballpoint pen has a hard time writing on it, we had to go grab a permanent marker.
How do you play through a Hidden Games Crime Scene game?
One of the first things you will find when opening up the envelope for Case No.1 of Hidden Games Crime Scene is a sheet telling you what you are looking to find out. The back of the envelope also has these same instructions in case you end up missing them or getting distracted by all the stuff you get.
The goal of the game is to answer four questions. These questions are:
- How did Max Glover die?
- Who sent you the envelope?
- Who sent the torn letter?
- Who committed the crime?
You use the evidence provided in the envelope to answer these questions. In addition to the physical elements provided, a number of the clues will also lead you online where you will need to do things like call a voicemail inbox, look up someone on Facebook, hack into a police database and more.
To help organize things the game provides you with pages from a date book which you can use to track who was where when and when key things happened. There is also a poster sized picture of a cork board with images of all of the involved parties and space to write notes about each.
Once you have figured out answers to the four questions you go online to a specific website and check to see if you are correct. In addition to having the answers, this is also the page you would go to if you need any hints or if you don’t have access to some of the technology required to play this game (more about that in a bit).
Unlike the various EXIT Games and other mystery games we’ve tried out, there’s no timer here nor time limit and there is also no score. The envelope lists the game as taking an hour and a half to two and a half hours. We were done in about an hour and forty-five minutes.
Should you pick up Hidden Games Crime Scene: The Maplebrooke Case?
Right from the start, I was impressed with the quality of Hidden Games Crime Scene: The Maplebrooke Case. This is a step above other murder mystery games we have played (the most recent of which you can read about in our Escape Mail review) in regards to quality and level of detail.
The Maplebrooke Case does a fantastic job of getting the players immersed in the game. It’s set in modern times in small town B.C., and you get things like maps, business cards, flyers and even a newspaper that makes the location feel like a real place where a real murder happened. Added to this are the online touches. The designers of this game actually went and took the time to create things like fake business websites and Facebook pages.
While great for immersion this does lead to the biggest problem with this game. To play this game requires more than what’s in the box and it requires things that not every gamer may have. While cellphones are pretty ubiquitous, not everyone has one, and not everyone that has a phone has a Facebook account.
Now the company does provide a website, where if you don’t have access to everything you need you can get all of the clues online on that webpage. The problem with this is that you need to click through a number of clues before they show what you need to see. Then of course there’s the fact that you still need to have the internet to be able to view this page in the first place.
Another thing that annoyed me is that there’s a voice mail number to call and it’s not a 1-800 number. The phone number was in Canada, but it was long distance. Thankfully one member of our family has free unlimited calling for all of Canada, but again, that’s not something every gamer is going to have access to. If you have to you can get around this by clicking through the clues on their webpage and listening to the voicemail on there.
Now I will admit none of these issues were actually a problem for us. When we were playing through this case we had a tablet and two cellphones at the table, which worked out great for being able to access online information and to make a phone call, but I want to make sure that people are aware of these potential issues.
As for playing the game, it was a lot of fun. The sheer amount of information you are provided with is both impressive and overwhelming in a good way. I loved the variety of clue types, including plenty of things that made you feel clever when you figured them out. Many of the clues required deductive reasoning and there was even a math puzzle as part of the game.
What I appreciated most is that there were multiple clues leading to the same answer. This was awesome for two reasons, the first being that you could miss something and still solve the case and the second being that finding multiple sources for a suspected answer was great for confirming that you got things right. By the time we decided to enter our answers online we were confident that we had everything right, and it felt very rewarding when we ended up getting all four questions answered perfectly.
Another aspect I appreciated about this particular murder mystery experience is that it wasn’t overly Adult. While yes there was a murder, there wasn’t any gore or detailed depictions of the crime scene. There’s no horror or shock value here, making this a relatively family-friendly experience.
Overall we had a great time playing through Hidden Games Crime Scene: The Maplebrooke Case. We played with three players, myself, my wife and my mother-in-law, and we all felt that it was the perfect difficulty level and length. The clues were just difficult enough to make you feel smart when you figured them out and we all loved how there was lots of corroborating evidence to help confirm our theories as we went through this case. We ended the game feeling good about how we did.
This game is an envelope stuffed full of evidence of various types that does a great job of making the murder case feel real. This immersion is increased by the use of modern technology, sending players out into the web looking for additional clues. If you are a fan of murder mystery games I strongly recommend picking up Hidden Games Crime Scene Case No. 1, in whatever localized version they sell in your region.
If you’ve never tried one of these styles of games before I also think that this Hidden Games Crime Scene game would be a great starting point to see if you enjoy murder mystery games. I think the quality of this product plus the way they keep things zoomed out, without any gory or off-putting details, would make it a great first mystery game.
If you have had some not so great experiences with these types of games but are willing to give the genre another shot, I recommend you pick up a copy of this game. So far this is the tightest and most well done murder mystery game we’ve played.
If you don’t dig trying to solve murders, looking through piles of evidence, and trying to make connections and check alibies, this game isn’t going to be for you.
One final note on replayability: the Hidden Games Crime Scene games are meant to be one and done games. That doesn’t have to be the case though, at least with this first case. There was nothing that you were required to destroy while solving this case. Similarly, you didn’t necessarily have to write on things. You could easily forgo using the provided date book and calendar and just use scrap paper for your notes. That’s what I wish we had done because then we would’ve been able to pass this game on so that someone else could experience it.
I have to say that there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a game like Hidden Games Crime Scene: The Maplebrooke Case, going online to check your solution and figuring out that you got everything 100% correct. That’s a joy you don’t get from your standard Eurogame.
What’s the last puzzle/mystery game that you managed to solve correctly? Tell me about it in the comments below!
If you enjoy our content then please consider donating to our Patreon.