Game Review: Unsolved Case Files
Friday, August 27, 2021

For my birthday this year, my husband and I decided to try our hand as amature detectives. :)

We ordered a "cold case" online from a company called Unsolved Case Files. They have lots of different cases to choose from, but the one I picked was "Veronica Falcone." Here's a quick synopsis:
ROBIN FALLS, CT - On August 26th, 1947, celebrated American WWII spy, Veronica Falcone, went missing while investigating something mysterious in town. Three months later, her motorcycle was found at the bottom of a ravine with the brake line intentionally cut.
Her boyfriend and mechanic, Joey Caruso, was arrested for the murder but hanged himself in jail while awaiting trial.
Did he kill Veronica? What was she investigating? Can you bring about justice for this famous war heroine?
I chose this case partly because it sounded interesting and partly because of the date. I was after all playing it on August 26th, which was the day Veronica disapeared 74 years ago. :D

This product is really more of a "puzzle" than a "game," but it was fun none the less.
Finding the solution relies heavily on your observation and critical thinking skills. The one down side was that to actually start working on the puzzle you need to get through a crazy amount of backstory information. The game producers tried to make this entertaining by giving the witnesses and suspects strong personalities and amusing dialogue, but it mostly came down to reading page after page of reports and statements just like you'd have to do if you were a real detective. And since we were doing this as a team, we read all those papers OUT LOUD. Needless to say I was quite hoarse by the end.

Along with the various reports were fabricated evidence including photographs and newspaper clippings. Your job is to go through all of the evidence and find the discrepencies that the original investigators missed. This will allow you to "reopen" the case, which takes the form of opening the first of three secret envelopes and provides you with a new lead. You then need to find additional evidence to support your new theory of what happened to the victim, at which point you open a second envelope. The last stage of solving the crime is determining who killed Veronica and why.
It took us about four hours to finish the game, but most of that was taken up with reading the evidence files. I'd say the game was about 80% reading and 20% deducing, which is understandable but a little too close to real life for a game. On the flip side, I've played plenty of games that don't give enough backstory and facts to make finding a solution satisfying, so I understand that it's a delicate balance. One way we made reading all those files more fun was to give each character a distinct voice and act out the transcribed interviews like a skit.

Overall, we had a good time, but I'm not convinced we'll be playing another unless we do it in a larger group so we can share the reading with more voices. I also think this would work well for someone wanting to do it alone because then you could read silently which would both save your throat and be faster. As I said, there were a lot of different files to choose from, so you can pick a crime that fits your interests. Each file costs about $30, which seems pretty reasonable for the production value, but because of the nature of the puzzle you can only play it once. I repacked all of the contents so that I can at least pass it on to someone else who may enjoy it, but be aware that it's a "one and done."

Total product rating: 4 of 5 stars.