Hunt A Killer is a subscription-based murder mystery game. Every month for 6 months, you receive a new box full of evidence and it’s up to you to progress the case! In this Hunt A Killer review, I take a look at the Hunt A Killer season Curtain Call and ask, is it worth it?
Full Disclosure: Hunt A Killer sent me a copy of a full season to try without any obligation to create a review.
What is Hunt A Killer?
Hunt A Killer is a murder mystery in a box subscription game. In the game, you take on the role of a detective. You use your skills of deduction, code-cracking and attention to detail to identify the killer and solve the case!
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You subscribe to the game a season at a time. Each season is six episodes long.
Every month for six months, you’ll be sent a box of clues and an objective to complete. That might be to find the murder weapon or remove a suspect from your investigation.
If you’ve completed an episode and don’t want to wait a month for the next one to arrive, you can request that it is sent ASAP instead. Perfect for when you’re really into a case and just can’t wait to continue!
When you subscribe, you start on episode 1 of whatever the current season is.
If you want to play through previous seasons of Hunt A Killer, you can buy all the episodes as a complete box set that are sent at once.
There are standalone murder mystery games too, called Premiums. Premiums can be completed in one sitting.
What do you get in the box?
I played the season Curtain Call. The case is set around a murder in 1934 in New York in a theatre called the Cadence Theatre.
In Curtain Call, each box contained:
- A mixture of clues and evidence
- A letter from your contact
- Virtual desktop details
- A collectable enamel pin
- Inventory Card
Mixture of clues
As you’d expect, most of the box is taken up with clues and evidence!
Everything for the episode is contained in a sealed, large letter-sized envelope. Opening that envelope feels like you’re opening an evidence envelope like the ones you see on detective shows!
Inside the box, there might be the odd small physical clue like a keychain or a cufflink along with plenty of paper-based clues.
There are a lot of paper based clues, but that doesn’t mean most of the clues are the same. Far from it.
Each piece is amazingly crafted, with super-high attention to detail. In Curtain Call, they do an amazing job at creating the feel of the 1930s. Posters are on thick paper with subdued colours as though the ink has faded over the years, forensic reports look like authentic photocopies and letters written on a typewriter have created indentations on the page where the keys have hit the paper.
These little details make all the difference. It really does feel like you’re getting a box of evidence. Each item is unique and valuable.
Letter from your contact
In each episode for Curtain Call, there was a letter from our contact with an update on the case. They shared information on the new clues they had found and how to access the virtual desktop with additional clues. The password for the desktop changed every episode so you can only see the files for where you’re up to in the season. Smart!
Because the client in Curtain Call works for the theatre, the letter is printed on theatre letter-headed paper. It looks and feels very authentic.
I hugely enjoyed reading the contact’s letter in each episode. Story-wise it provided wonderful insights into what was happening in the current time as you were working on solving a case from the 1930s. Having the two stories play out alongside each other added an extra depth to the experience that I wasn’t expecting to get.
The client also became another character. One with their own relationships to the suspects in the case and with her own fears and concerns in the present day.
In Episode 1 you’re given a website address and a password which you can use to log into a virtual desktop. You don’t need to be a technical wiz-kid to understand it.
You just go to the web address and type your password in. Then you’ll see a few folders that look just like the folders you’d see on your computer. Inside each one is some useful stuff.
One really useful document gives some examples of cyphers and codes and how they work. When you’re faced with your first coded message to decipher, you might find this helpful for ideas on how to figure it out!
Another cool thing in the folders for Curtain Call was some cocktail recipes! You can have a beverage right out of the 1930s as you play!
Oh, and there was a playlist too! Full of songs from the 1930s. We put it on while we played and it created the perfect ambience for transporting us back to another decade!
There was also a folder with additional evidence related to the case. Don’t forget about this digital evidence as you play. It is just as important as the physical clues in the box.
You’ll use the email section of the virtual desktop to submit your answer to each episode. There’s an email button on the desktop. When you click it, you’re taken through to a simple email inbox.
You write your answer in an email following the instructions on the Inventory Card and hit Send. You get a reply immediately that lets you know whether you’re right or wrong. You can always submit another answer if you get it wrong.
Collectable enamel pin
Each episode comes with a collectable enamel pin.
In my boxes, each of the pins were different designs all related to murder mystery theme. Some looked more gruesome than others!
One small, but mighty thing in each episode is the Inventory Card.
It tells you the:
- Episode number
- Item checklist
- What you need to do in this episode
- How to submit your answer
- Any additional resources to check out like websites, etc
- Where to get hints
Before you dive into each episode, the Inventory Card lets you know that you’ve got the right episode and all the things you need to play. If there’s anything missing, you can just send a message to Hunt A Killer and they’ll get it sent right out to you!
It’s really clear from the card what you’re supposed to do in the episode and how to submit your findings through the Virtual Desktop. It provides just the right amount of guidance and reassurance that you’ve got everything you need without detracting from the game experience.
The Cadence Theatre in Curtain Call is an important location in the case. So it makes sense that you’d want to visit the theatre’s website to learn more about it.
The web address for the theatre is included on an Inventory Card so you can go take a look. It actually looks like a legitimate theatre website with performance schedules and an about page with company history on it! I was really impressed and for a moment wondered if it was real!
Episode 1 Extras
As well as the regular items you’ll find in the boxes for the other episodes, in Episode 1 you’ll also find the Start Here guide. It’s a short instruction manual for how to play. You aren’t left on your own for your first rodeo, rookie.
The Start Here guide was actually really helpful when we first started playing. You can read the whole thing in about 2 minutes but it’s enough to help you along the way.
It gives welcomes you to the game, suggests what to do first, offers tips on how to play and lists the resources you might want to use to help you to solve the case – the Facebook Groups, the Forum, and episode recaps.
In Episode 1 for Curtain Call, there was also a letter from the private investigation company that’s given you the case. It contained a bit of background on the case and instructions for how to access the virtual desktop. Story-wise it’s great because it shows where the Curtain Call case and your role as detective sits within the wider world of the story.
What’s it like to play?
Opening the box
It was an exciting feeling opening our first Hunt A Killer episode. We had no idea what to expect! ‘We’ being me and my partner, Mark.
What would the case be like? Would it be easy? What if we got stuck? All these kind of questions!
As soon as the box was open, we saw the Start Here guide and read it. I’m so happy we did! One suggestion was:
“Gather your supplies. Cork board, highlighters, notepad, binder, red sting etc.”Hunt A Killer Start Here guide, page 3.
What a great idea! I scurried around the house, and gathered all the things we needed to be proper detectives! If you don’t have these things to hand, you can order a detective board kit along with your Hunt A Killer boxes!
With everything in place, we picked up a lush purple envelope with an art deco logo on the front, and tore open the seal!
Inside we found all the clues for the episode, the letters from the Private Investigation agency and our contact. I’m the kind of person that likes to do things in order and not miss any details so I read the two letters about the case first.
Mark started picking up pieces of evidence and looking at it straight away! Saying things like, “This is really good. It could actually be a theatre programme from the 1930s!”
I couldn’t wait to dive into the clues and start sleuthing! But I carried on reading the introductory letters first. I’m pleased I did, otherwise, I might have missed the details for how to log into the virtual desktop with the extra evidence!
Completing the objective
Our objective for the first episode was to identify the murder weapon. We thought this was a really exciting thing to do as our first challenge.
We each grabbed a piece of evidence and started reading. We were sitting quietly for a while. This was actually quite common and as we played through all the episodes – we started by sitting quietly and reading stuff.
As quite a competitive person, I found myself wanting to hurry up and read everything so that I could decode the messages before Mark did! In reality, there were enough messages to decode that we both had plenty to be getting on with.
Because we both like puzzles, we wanted to decode all the codes ourselves, so we didn’t show each other what the decoded messages said as we went along!
We almost forgot to check the virtual desktop for extra evidence. We only remembered when we were having a final check through everything! Thankfully, the digital evidence only confirmed our suspicions!
Creating the detective board
After we had both read through everything and decoded all the messages, we discussed what we thought the murder weapon was and created the investigation board. This was really fun!
I loved cutting out the images of the suspects, using string and notes to plot the relationships between them, and putting key events on the timeline. It was the first time I’ve ever made a detective board like the ones you see on TV! I hung it up on the wall in my office, which made it feel like I was a real part-time detective!
I didn’t actually know how to make a detective board, thankfully, Mark did. Although I wonder how knew what to do?!
If you want to create your own detective board in the same way we did, follow these steps!
- Use little sticky notes to plot a chronological timeline of events across the top of a cork board.
- Create a little profile card for each suspect and the victim. Add their photo and key facts about them.
- Put the victim in the centre and arrange the suspects around them.
- Use pins and string to connect the profiles to each other. Add little folded piece of paper to the strings detailing the relationship.
- Add sticky notes with means and motive to each profile.
- Add a sticky note with the murder weapon on it.
- Add another sticky note over a profile when you find out they are innocent with details of how you know.
- Update after each episode with new facts!
Submitting the answer
It was really easy to submit the answer to each episode through the virtual desktop email. I literally just clicked the email button and it came up with an email which already had the contact details and subject line filled in. All I had to do was write the answer and click Send.
Within a second, I had a response letting me know that we’d got the answer right!
I really liked the email reply. It was more than a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. It was from our contact and gave us insights into her thoughts and feelings on the case and what’s happening in the present day.
Although the email was obviously automated, the way it was written made it feel real. I felt like we had made a real difference, even though the case is fictional!
We were really excited to get stuck into the second episode. Even though we’d only played one episode, we felt like we’d already got to know some of the characters and we wanted to learn more about them. This feeling continued for every single episode in the season!
Every time we started a new episode, we were really excited to open the box and see what new things we could find out, get to work on the new puzzles, and move the case forward.
While some puzzles followed a similar pattern, there was variety across the episodes and the occasional difficult puzzle. With the harder ones, we would leave them and think about them overnight.
So, although the episodes took 2 to 3 hours on average to complete, we would sometimes step away from the game to think about the puzzles, update the detective board and discuss who we thought was innocent or guilty.
One thing I got really excited about for each episode was finding out what would be included as a physical clue, like the cufflink we got in the first episode. They were all small, which makes sense because they have to fit inside a box which goes through a letterbox, but they did vary quite a lot between episodes.
It was really fun having physical clues as well as the paper and digital evidence! They were so carefully chosen by the game designers in terms of style, that they could genuinely have been from the 1930s. Having something tactile, really helped with getting immersed in the game!
As the episodes progressed, and we got to know more about the characters and their individual situations, we started to feel emotionally involved in the story. So when bad things happened or we learned something sad about a character’s back story we actually had an emotional response. I genuinely wasn’t expecting that to happen!
It just goes to show the power of the storytelling in this game!
We had mixed feelings about the final episode. We were excited to finally solve the case, but we were also feeling a bit sad because it was the last time we’d engage with these characters.
It was kind of silly really because we know it’s just a story, but all the photos and anecdotes and private conversations that we’d seen between the characters made them feel real to us.
Going into the last episode, we actually quite liked two of the remaining suspects! We didn’t want them to be guilty!
The last episode contained some plot twists that we didn’t see coming and showed us that some of the assumptions we made about the characters were completely wrong!
These twists actually made us go back and revisit some of the clues from previous episodes and read different things into them.
One thing that was quite cool in the final episode is that it gave you glimpses into what the present-day lives were like for the characters and what had happened since the victim’s murder. It made it feel like a satisfying end to the story, as well as the case.
When we submitted the final answer, we were actually hoping that we’d got it wrong and that the suspect wasn’t guilty! When we got the email back saying that we were right, we felt sad for the victim and the perpetrator. Knowing what we now did about the characters, we could see how things could have turned out really differently without any lives being lost.
At the bottom of the final episode was an envelope from the private investigation agency we were working for. Inside, was a note from our client about another case they’d like us to work on. I love that Hunt A Killer introduces another season in a thematic way. It was a nice reminder of the attention to detail these guys put into their games!
Overall gameplay thoughts
Hunt A Killer is incredibly immersive. I was really impressed with the depth of story and how unique each of the characters felt. Even the handwriting and the tone of voice on the letters and notes were unique and distinct from each other.
What really surprised me was how much thought was given to the story beyond what was needed to solve the case. Little details like what people enjoyed doing, how they responded to each other, and their individual histories were really interesting and added a huge amount of realism.
I was genuinely surprised by the emotional effect the story had on me. When I opened episode one and started reading through the evidence and decoding messages, I treated it like a puzzle. And I expected to keep treating it that way. After all, when playing a detective you expect to stay objective the entire time, right?
But the insights you get into the relationships between each character and that fact that you know things about them that they don’t share with other characters makes the game much richer than just solving a puzzle. It’s like you’re playing a part in the story.
This might just be how we played, but there was more silent reading that I was expecting. I thought we’d be grabbing our pieces of evidence and frantically discussing ideas and what we thought was going on. But actually, we needed the quiet time to read everything and work on puzzles, and as someone who enjoys puzzles, I found this really fun!
It meant that when we did come together to update the detective board and discuss our ideas, we both were up to speed with the case.
The gameplay for Hunt A Killer feels like a cross between a play at home escape room, a detective series and a puzzle book with codes to crack.
Hunt A Killer Pros and Cons
|Incredible theming||Can only play once|
|Immersive gameplay||A whole season is expensive compared to a board game|
|Realistic characters||Can quickly meet the objectives if you want|
|Keeps you coming back|
Is Hunt A Killer worth the cost?
Hunt A Killer is the kind of game where you get out of it what you put in.
For every episode, we put on the 1930s playlist, grabbed our detective board, laptop, and the notebooks we’d set aside just for the game, turned off all distractions and got stuck in.
We really enjoyed diving into the story, getting to know the characters, decoding the puzzles and discussing our theories.
On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who will see the objective and just rush to complete it, then you can do. But you won’t get good value for money and you’ll kind of miss the point.
Hunt A Killer boxes are called ‘episodes’ for a reason. A lot of the fun comes from getting to know the characters and their lives, and playing a part in the story.
A season of Hunt A Killer looks expensive when you see the total cost of a season. But so do a lot of things. If you listed the cost of six date nights or family meals in a restaurant, that would look expensive too!
Hunt A Killer makes for a perfect date night! For about $25 a month, you get something fun to do together for 2-3 hours. That’s pretty good value! It’s even better value per person if your whole family are playing!
I’m based in the UK, and Hunt A Killer is available in the UK. You’ll just have to check the delivery costs.
Conclusion – Hunt A Killer Review
Playing Hunt A Killer was a completely new experience for us. We loved getting immersed in the story and looked forward to completing each episode.
If you’re the type of person who likes to try new things and have fun, I’d definitely recommend you give Hunt A Killer a try!
Sign up for Hunt A Killer using my exclusive link and see if Hunt a Killer have a flash sale on with a discount!
Have fun, detective!
There were some questions we had before we started playing so I thought I’d write the questions and the answers here to help you!
How long is each box?
It took us between 2-3 hours to complete each box. That’s deciphering all the riddles, reading all the evidence, closely inspecting the props and submitting our answer via virtual desktop.
We also spent some time after each episode talking about the characters. Who was angry with who, which people were actually friends, what was going on in their home lives and even if there was a secret love affair or two!
How long does it take to solve?
With each episode taking us up to 3 hours to complete and there are 6 episodes in total that’s 18 hours of gameplay.
Is it hard?
It totally depends on how easy you find working out puzzles and making connections. We found some of the initial puzzles quite challenging, escpecially when we were figuring out the initial code.
When it actually came to eliminating a suspect or finding the murder weapon, in most cases we found it quite straightforward after we’d cracked all the codes. But we did find the objectives more difficult on some of the episodes.
How do you get hints?
If you get stuck, the Inventory Card in each episode contains a website address and a password which you can use to access the hints for that episode.
The clues are separated into Hints and Reveals. If you just want a nudge to help you along the way, the Hints are perfect. If you’re still stuck after using a Hint, you can use a Reveal which tells you exactly what you’re supposed to deduce from that piece of evidence.
If talking to people about the episode to figure things out is more your style, there are Facebook groups to support you. To avoid spoilers, there is a separate group for each episode of each season. The groups are overseen by a moderator from Hunt A Killer to make sure spoilers don’t creep in!
Can you solve it in one box?
No. It’s not designed that way. You don’t get all the clues and evidence you need to identify the killer in episode 1. You need to use the clues from all the boxes and make connections to figure it out.
However, if the episodic thing isn’t for you, you can buy an entire Hunt A Killer box set of a previously released season on the Hunt A Killer website. Although stock is limited.
You can also try out a Premium game. These are standalone mysteries where everything you need to solve the case is in one box. You can play these in one sitting.
Is Hunt A Killer legit?
Absolutely! They have their own website which you can go check out, loads of reviews on Trustpilot and thousands of members in the Facebook groups. You could even send a message to people on Facebook if you’re still unsure.
One thing that’s really cool about Hunt A Killer is that they donate to the Cold Case Foundation for every episode sold. The Cold Case Foundation are a charity which helps to solve previously unsolved crimes and provides hope to the victim’s loved ones.
How many players?
I played Hunt A Killer with my boyfriend, so I can say for sure that it’s a great game for date night and two players in general.
I actually think Hunt A Killer would be just as fun as a solo game for someone who really enjoys stories and puzzles. It would also work with a group of up to about 6 people. I think any more than that, you may have people waiting for puzzles to solve, or evidence to read.
Is Hunt A Killer a board game?
No. It’s a murder mystery subscription box game. You could class it as a tabletop game because you’ll play it while gathered around a table with your detective friends and family!
What is the Hunt A Killer age rating?
The Hunt A Killer website suggests PG-13 rating. I agree with this. Some of the evidence we came across was quite graphic either in the image or text descriptions.
Do you need the internet to play it?
Yeah. You’ll need the internet to submit your answer for each episode and to access the virtual desktop with additional evidence.
Any general Hunt A Killer Tips?
- Make an event of each episode! Music, notebooks, themed drinks!
- Create a detective board for suspects, motives, relationships and timeline of events. It’s fun to make and is a useful recap between episodes.
- Remember to check the virtual desktop for digital evidence!
- If you like decoding puzzles and so do other members of your group, work on them separately and don’t share your answers until you’ve done them all.
- If you’re stuck on a puzzle, check the ciphers reference file on the virtual desktop first before the hints and reveals webpage or the Facebook group.
- Refer back to the evidence from previous episodes. It might give you the missing piece you need to draw conclusions in your current episode.