Review: Unsolved Case Files

Review – Unsolved Case Files

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Price – ​​normally $29.99, currently on sale for $26.97 (as of 5/1/22)

Disclaimer: we purchased the games with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.

The Product:

Unsolved Case Files is a series of games that has players reopening long shut cold cases in order to finally provide some true answers.  Players will have access to all the old evidence: witness reports, crime scene photos, newspaper clippings, autopsies, and more.  They must then work to figure out what really happened and make sure they have the proper evidence to support their findings.

While all the necessary information is contained in the physical collection of evidence that players receive to play with, they will need an internet-enabled device to submit their answers.  Players need to work through a series of questions in order to advance and finally solve the case.  As answers are submitted, access to envelopes with more information or clues is granted.  

As of this writing there are currently eight cases to choose from with another four under development.  The cases provided a variety of situations from different time periods to try out.  There is even a more family-friendly case available, with another in the works.  For our review, we completed the first two Unsolved Case File games: “Harmony Ashcroft” and “Jamie Banks.”  Harmony’s case had us looking into the murder of a bride-to-be the night before her wedding.  Someone has already been convicted and imprisoned, but something doesn’t quite seem right.  Jamie Banks was a successful high school senior whose suicide might be more than it appears.

Unsolved Case Files asks players to put on their detective hats and see if they can use their deductive and keen observation skills to discover what has gone unnoticed for years.

Our Thoughts:

Both cases do a fantastic job of building the world where the mysteries take place.  The amount of evidence provided is a lot, but the thoroughness allows the content to create a fully realized cast of characters, complete with motivations, backstories, thoughts, alibis, and lives.  The provided materials help immerse players in the mystery.  The fact that the cases are long abandoned cold cases only add to the sense that if there is anything to solve it must be in these documents because this is all that is left to work with.  In that respect, the theming works really well.

The list of possible suspects were fleshed out well and initially it was easy to believe that any of them could have been responsible for the crimes.  Nothing ever felt too obvious or on the nose and the statements and stories provided read as if someone might actually have provided them.  Some information was helpful and some simply filled in more of a picture of these people’s lives.  Each person provides pieces of information that must be pulled together and compared in order to see what sounds right and what might warrant more investigation.

The materials included give players a lot to work with.  There is going to be a lot to read and sift through, but that means the answers never feel too obvious and there is an earned sense of satisfaction from a discovery.  Solving these cases truly rely on strong deductive reasoning and taking close note of even the tiniest details.  Like in real life, there are no codes or ciphers to crack.  Players simply need to put in some good detective work.

While we personally enjoyed all the reading and opportunities to discover these characters’ lives and world, if you don’t like doing a lot of reading, beware.  

The provided questions give players a strong sense of direction in what they should be looking for, without ever feeling spoilery.  Even when we knew what we were looking for, that never meant the game felt too easy.  The game provides an online hint system, and we were definitely tempted at times.  Like we stated before, the game can be difficult in its way, but when some information finally clicks, it feels like a big break and a large win.

Having played the first two games, we’d like to note that the Jamie Banks case felt like a strong step forward and improvement from the original Harmony case.  While Harmony Ashcroft was fun, Jamie Banks did a good job of not feeling like a repeat and also ironing out a few elements of the gameplay experience.  Jamie’s case’s questions were more layered and nuanced.  The information was also better controlled.  With Harmony, we ended up figuring out most of the case before we officially submitted our first answer.  Jamie’s case felt like a more gradual journey toward the truth.

After playing the first two Unsolved Case Files mysteries, we’re definitely interested in playing more and seeing how the gameplay further evolves.  If you’re into cold case mysteries or like you like testing your deductive puzzling skills and ability to piece together details, we recommend giving the Unsolved Case Files a try.  

Official C & C Rating:

Narrative: 4

Puzzles: 2.5

Overall Fun: 3.5

Final Average Rating: 3.33/5

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