The Detective Society Review
Welcome to our Review of The Detective Society is going to be a bit different than our typical review. We aren’t focusing on a single game in this review. Instead, we wanted to dig into something we’ve been playing in our spare time and loving it!
We’ve been playing The Detective Society Season 1, 2, and currently working through season 3. There won’t be any spoilers in this review as this game is about being a detective and solving a mystery. This game is for ages 14 & up due to the nature of the case and the complexity of the puzzles. It’s a great date night game that has potential for a group of 3 -4 to play as well.
Have you ever wanted to play a detective, and no, I don’t mean Sherlock Holmes – There is a game for that, but a Modern Detective — yes, there is a game for that too. Well, this game is, in our opinion, much better.
If you decide to dive into The Detective Society, you must determine what season you want to play. The Detective Society mails each episode to you over six months, and you get a box a month. You can buy a single episode, and those are good in their own right. However, to get the whole experience, you need to commit to an entire season.
If you want to purchase a past season, you can get each of the first two seasons mailed to you in one shipment of all six boxes. Currently, Season 1 – The Disappearance of Clare Makova and Season 2 – The Sudden Silence of Timothy Lee have finished. However, season 3, The Cursed Exhibition, is ongoing and can be received monthly as of this writing.
Each of the three seasons is unique and has you and your friends trying to solve a mystery. You do this in three ways:
- Interacting with physical items in the box
- Interacting with Characters via SMS and email
- Looking through website’s created for the game
Each box contains a letter from The Detective Society and usually a letter from your point of contact. That point of contact can change throughout the six episodes as characters appear and then disappear under mysterious circumstances. In each box, your point of contact will detail what happened since your last package. They end it by needing an answer to something related to the case, asking you to email them the answer.
Also, in the box, you will receive a lot of physical material. It is your job to figure out what pieces of that stuff are currently relevant. All items in the box are needed to solve the current episode. However, each part of the episode may only need one or two of those items.
Initially, you and your fellow players can not immediately solve the initial question your point of contact asks. Usually, you will need to work through 3-4 other puzzles and find those solutions to figure out the answer. The physical material can include letters on official letterhead from “government institutions,” or it can consist of branded pencils or even building schematics. Each box’s components are unique to the current episode box and are only used in the current episode. We love this because you never know what you’re going to get in a box, and it’s fun to piece together how it is essential to solving the episode’s mystery.
If you come across a phone number or email address during a case, you can contact that person – often, it’s encouraged. The majority of the characters you interact with have something to add to your case. If a character isn’t important, you’ll get an out-of-office email and nothing more. However, you may get a response that is specific to the case. Always make sure you mention the case in some way when you email or SMS with a character. The Detective Society system detects keywords in your messages. Their system will provide either a positive response and further information or a negative response that it doesn’t quite understand. This latter one can get a bit frustrating, especially if you know you have the correct answer.
One thing to watch out for is if you are playing in a group, Always make sure only one person is sending the emails. You can have a separate person sending the SMS texts, but again only one person. We got into a situation where I was emailing our main point of contact. Someone else in our group had emailed a secondary character in the case. The system kept responding to my email that our answer was wrong. We had to email customer support in the end, and they asked us if someone was emailing another character. Once we figured that out, we resent the secondary character email from the correct email account, and it worked! It would be nice to add authorized email addresses to the online account. Then whenever someone sends an email from any account, it will be treated as the same underlying story.
Also, you will see a phone number on a website or piece of physical material you received in the box from time to time. It will say to either send an SMS or Whatsapp message… do it! Chances are, it will solve a puzzle or at least put you on the correct path to doing so. As with the emails, The Detective Society system is looking for keywords, so make sure you mention the case and make a specific request.
Yes, the internet is part of this game, but don’t go hog-wild searching Google for the answers. Sometimes, you may need to search Google Maps or look for a historical solution on Wikipedia. Beyond that, the game will mention all other websites you’ll need to visit in emails, SMS, or different in-game websites or physical clues. You will not be searching Google for a website. Instead, you will be given it.
The websites are, in our opinion, a great addition to the game. The writing is funny, and it’s incredible the variety of puzzles they use that utilize the internet.
This series of games is one of our favorites because of its puzzle variety o and how they fit into the story. Without revealing any specifics from the cases, our jaws have dropped a few times at how a puzzle gets solved.
Some of the puzzles don’t even seem like puzzles. The best is when the game directs the players to “do something illegal” in the context of the game. An example is to break into a bank account. You don’t break into a bank account, of course, but it certainly feels like you are doing it for real.
We’ve talked here at length about what could make this game even better. One thing we discussed would have puzzles done in real-time. For instance, We’ve seen another puzzle package make the players wait to the top of the hour to contact a character or even come back the next day “when the coast is clear.” We see the limitations on this idea as most groups get together for a single night of gameplay a month. This delay would make a group unable to finish an episode in one sitting. Making this work would be to add a setting in a player’s online account that asks if they are playing with people who live in the same household. If they say yes, the character interactions would happen slowly and over time. If they answer no, The Detective Society would speed up the character interactions.
In the package, you are provided with a business card with a QR code, leading to the website’s help with a Case section. If you ever become stumped with the way forward, find the episode you are working on and enter the password provided. The following screen will introduce you to Lucy Montgomery. Lucy is the in-game help. There are a series of headlines about your case, each with clues that you can reveal along with the answer if you get very stuck.
For us, this has been helpful. We don’t want the answers when we play, but we appreciate the push in the right direction. If we get stuck, I’ll log in and look at a clue, determine if we’ve solved it, before looking at the next clue until we find the hint with the nudge. Then we’ll log out, and usually, that’s enough, and we can move on.
The Detective Society is a great game to play with a group because you can get everyone involved. The teamwork aspect is a lot of fun. We enjoy looking through all the content that gets sent each month. It feels like you are solving a profound mystery. The puzzles never feel like puzzles and feel very much like you are solving the crime. We have noticed a few minor photoshopping issues with photos that should be cleaned up, but these don’t detract from the game in the slightest. They do pull you out of the game’s reality ever so slightly.
So far, we have played the entirety of season 2 and half of season 1 and the first episode of season 3. We have noticed that some puzzles get repeated slightly, but there is enough variation to keep you interested.
Contacting characters is one of the best parts of this experience, and it feels like there is a bit of conversation which is amazing. One of our recommendations in the future would be to have those characters have branching dialogue chains so that it feels like an even more immersive experience with them. Overall this game is a lot of fun and very well done! The team at the Detective Society has done a fantastic job at putting this all together.
When taking a look at the cost of this game, you’ll notice a few pricing models. They offer a price per episode, a price per completed season, and a subscribe and save. The prices are all in British pounds and will run you from approximately $39 – $49 per box.
This price can seem steep but consider this. Suppose you are playing this game with multiple people. In that case, the cost is still the same, and ultimately it works out to be less expensive than a night at the movie theater for a much more involved experience. It’s also cheaper than doing any traditional escape room experience. An entire season (6 continuous episodes) may seem expensive. Still, it is a guaranteed night once a month of a fun night solving mysteries. We can’t wait to finish the first season and get our next box of season 3!
If you found this review helpful, check out The Detective Society today! They are currently offering a 15% off coupon with the code welcome15!If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our blog for more reviews and overviews!