🗺️ Based In United States
⏲️ 45-90 Minutes ▪ 💪 Medium Difficulty ▪ 🔢 N/A
📚 A grisly double-murder shocks Fairy Tale Land! Lady Tremaine and one of her two daughters are found stabbed at the manor. The prime suspect is the mistreated stepdaughter Cinderella--she had motive and opportunity. Could it be that simple?
The Cinderella Murders | The Fairy Tale Files By Society Of Curiosities
THE (QUICK) GUIDE
THIS, IN A NUTSHELL, IS...
▪ Classified As: Play At Home » Puzzle Game In A Box (Package) / By-Mail Puzzle Hybrid
▪ A fairy tale-themed escape puzzle narrative adventure that will have you rethink the classic story time characters as you know them. This ain't your regular Disney princess happily-ever-after in the making--it's every (wo)man for themselves to create the perfect ending, and murder is certainly NOT off the table. Game play and contents will spread evenly between on-hand, paper-based clues and online portal; players will enjoy roughly 1 to 2 hours of novice-to-medium-level, family-friendly puzzling fun.
YOU'LL ENJOY THIS, IF...
▪ If you're a youngster who loves prince/princess tales, and are ready for your first escape game(s) featuring this exact theme.
▪ If you're an adult that enjoys fairy tales like "Cinderella", but think, "Hmmm, what would a darker, modernized version be like?"
▪ If you love games that have you embark on an magical journey in an enchanted land, but also solve a grim murder on the side.
▪ If you appreciate riddles, language play, and other brainteasers that are less traditional escape room-ish and more kids-friendly.
▪ If you want to share your love for Society Of Curiosities with friends who like a more straightforward (and less ARG-style) play.
OVERALL VERDICT: 😃
▪ Advice: Based on everything discussed below in the review, with my team of 1, the difficulty subjectively feels like a 6/10, (which may differ from the company's official rating). As such, I recommend a team of 1 to 2. I do honestly think this game may be disproportionately more difficult for me than most, since I am rubbish at these puzzle types. You may find it much easier.
📖 CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW BELOW!
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THE (FULL) REVIEW
GLASS SLIPPER MURDERS! | The Fairy Tale Files By Society Of Curiosities
INTRODUCTION & THEME
▪ Inspired by classic fairy tales told for ages, now reimagined with a moderately darker twists, "The Fairy Tale Files" puzzle series is the latest project brought to life from the creative masters behind Society Of Curiosities. First of four in the series to report trouble--troubles, plural, in fact--in Fairy Tale land, "The Cinderella Murders" is the creators' first stab in the murder mystery category. In fact, it's a fatal stab with the sharply pointed, glassy high heel of Cinderella's slipper, ending in a double homicide--now the question is, who did the deed? (Society Of Curiosities doesn't mess around. Historically, they haven't incorporated any malicious killing in their previous narratives, but when they do, bam! A two-for-one special, madam.)
▪ "Fairy Tale Files" is a departure from Society's usual route and an artistic endeavor in different creative direction. While cases from the Society Of Curiosities are of alternate-reality or augmented-reality games style, specifically aiming to blur the lines between reality with fabricated strange happenings, "Fairy" pledges full devotion to absolute fantasy, in which prescription spells help heal ailments, and vermin are your besties for life. The juxtaposition of something as heavy and permanent as murder is an interesting distortion in a seemingly sugary utopia, and it will be intriguing to see how the rest of the collection plays out.
▪ Despite the above, the overall adventure format is familiar enough for returning fans to just pick up and go, while easy enough for new players to learn swiftly. What's essentially the same is you will receive a package of puzzle goodies, some you can examine right away, others concealed and to be unpacked later. The main narrative will similarly be told through the eyes of your correspondent, Maximillian Lepoof from the Magical Mishaps Agency, whom you'll chat with via a web messaging system. This game is strictly online through pixie dust magic, so no SMS involved--such technology does not exist in Fairy Tale Land!
▪ Geared towards a more affordable price point, "Fairy Tales" has a reasonable price tag of around $20 USD, and will feature mostly paper-based materials. While I most certainly appreciate the various trinkets from my previous Society Of Curiosities titles, the thinner and lighter materials are easier to ship, carry around, and store, and they still look fantastic in its own right. My personal favorites include the official newspaper from Prince Charming's homeland, and the colorful and sparkling evidence collection. Thoughtful production value remains a signature M.O. for the company, no matter what the cost tier may be.
▪ The other half of the game, the online messaging portal, is equally visually pleasing. A watercolor painting of what looks be a fairy tale book interface, placed in front of the contrasting bloody red background, coupled with a mesmerizing soundtrack, this sets the stage--and the mood--just right for some make-believe sleuthing. From a technical standpoint, this communication and hint system runs without any bug, and makes the overall gaming experiencing as smooth as Libelle Treville's (stepsister's) supple skin. (Oh no, was that creepy? If so, replace comparison with butter. As smooth as butter.)
▪ What perhaps will go on to become the most defining aesthetics for this series is the stunning artwork. The specifically commissioned and tailor-made illustrations give an unquestionable unique look for this new project, and what's even more satisfying is, the artist is able to capture the darker and more mature tone of the storyline without completely sacrificing customary vibe of classic children bedtime story. Think of it like Detective Pikachu going live action. It's the same character basis, but just more authentic. More edgy. And a little more slaying royalty.
▪ And the font! Both online and offline, font choice is dead-on (deader than Lady Tremaine) immaculate. Love. It.
▪ One noticeable difference is that there is a lot more illustrations of sceneries employed in this puzzle series when compared to the main line from Society Of Curiosities. More specifically, there is relatively less usage of "real-life" prop such as maps, articles, and charts, though they still can be found in some capacity, just to a lesser extent. Subbing for the reality-blurring approach to immersion is an invite for the players to metaphorically step inside a fairy tale book. You now journey through the plot through a series of text (with Max) and many, many pages of elucidating artwork--so in this sense, it's really like flipping through storybook!
A literal fairy tale book messaging portal | The Fairy Tale Files By Society Of Curiosities
▪ The overall puzzle contents can be divided into two main aspects: an exploration side in which you travel all over Fairy Tale Land to investigate, to do interviews, and to gather intel and more evidence; and a case-solving side, in which you have to ultimately decide who's the killer out of four possible suspects. A good ol' whodunit as your finale task. Choose wisely!
▪ Majority of your time will be spent directing your detective partner Max on where to go, who to speak with, and what to do with certain inventory items and information. While on the surface, it first appears like a choose-your-adventure sort of journey, and there is indeed some freedom in choosing your own task-to-do order, the game is still dominantly linear. You will be prodded along a predetermined path to encounter story and puzzle segments as they are arranged to play out. Once you hit a puzzle step, you MUST solve it before moving on. For the younger or beginners crowd, there is solid structure and great guidance for easy gaming. For the more experienced, however, this feels a bit rigid and I prefer events to unfold more organically.
▪ Designed to be an experience playable by beginners, families, and even younger kids, the puzzle selection deviates from traditional escape games and leans towards more intuitive challenges. Riddles are plentiful and fit into the storybook universe well; also along the same veins are word plays involving sounds and idioms. For returning customers familiar with previous Society games, there are also reading and knowledge-applying task and a bit of code deciphering. Comprehensively speaking, these brainteasers are meant to be solvable with minimal previous experience, and may actually be paradoxically more challenging for experts who are more accustomed to overused tropes. The takeaway: expect something different.
▪ Pages are flowing red, but not from the victim's blood, but with red herrings! What's perhaps the trickiest and most ingenious part of the storytelling, every single one of the four suspects all seem equally likely to be your guy/gal, and it truly is a mystery until the very end. After all... There's a killer among us, and everyone's a little sus. Now this is the type of red herring I like!
▪ Be sure to take notes dutifully. Little details are keys to solving the double murder, and the critical tidbits will slip by easily if you don't pay close attention. Organize your notes neatly, and use a systematic process of elimination to deduce down to only one possible culprit. Don't overthink. Though I've epically failed to apprehend the right gal/guy by picking literally everyone else who's innocent, (gosh, I was terrible!), I both appreciated the thought process and enjoyed the final reveal with great satisfaction.
▪ For a game aimed to expand into family demographics, this game is jam-packed with more adult humors (not the dirty kind) that only the more devious minds will get. There are portions that reek Housewives drama, temporarily transporting me from a fairy tale to the E! network. Sweet, sweet Cinderella's got a social ladder-climbing, not-that-innocent conniving-ish side, and what's not to love? It's plausible to compare "The Cinderella's Murders" to a Disney/Pixar animation--certainly appropriate for the young ones in the family, but dig a little deeper, there are layers reserved for the grown-ups to savor.
OVERALL VERDICT: 😃
▪ "The Cinderella Murders" kicks off "The Fairy Tale Files" nicely with a well-paced fantasy adventure, a cunningly-written murder mystery, a smirk-inducing satire all in one light but compelling envelope. Not exactly a puzzle-centric contender, though dripping with just the right amount of deceit, bloodthirst, and humor (love me some hearty amount of humor), this fantastic looking at-home story/game combo is wholesome enough for the kids to play, but also just naughty enough to thrill the kids at heart.
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