Room-in-a-box, Mar 2019
Puzzle Card’s third card deviates a little from the first two: rather than the escape room puzzle style, it’s designed as a murder mystery. This means the card has quite a bit of story text to read and digest; and you then need to combine that with the other clues on the card to work out which of four suspects is the guilty party. A gruesome murder might seem a little grisly for a birthday card; although unlike the other Puzzle Cards this one doesn’t say ‘birthday’ anywhere on it, so is suitable for other occasions.
My usual gripe with most murder mystery puzzles is that the logic rarely stands up to close inspection. Knowing how the genre normally works, it’s a safe bet that the correct answer is found by eliminating all but one of the suspects, with each piece of information used to rule out precisely one of the possibilities. That allows you to work out what each clue is intended to tell you, and thereby arrive at the answer, even if the inference from clue to conclusion seems shaky. That was my impression of Murder on the Line: it works well as a puzzle as long as you focus on how the designers intended you to solve it and don’t nitpick the details too much.
I’d expect most escape room enthusiasts to prefer one of the other Puzzle Cards to this one, mainly for that reason: the solution is less definitively crisp and satisfying. But I’m sure there’s an audience who would find a murder mystery much more accessible than a set of room escape puzzles, with whom this would go down well.