Online, Jun 2020
It’s a nice ego-stroke to be told you’re a brilliant puzzle solver before a game even begins – and that’s the initial premise of this game. The Dead Man of the title is a recently deceased billionaire who left his fortune to whoever could solve his riddles; in our briefing we were told that we were the genuises who’d been first to solve his puzzle, and having done so, we now just needed to investigate his chambers to find his hidden riches.
The setting is essentially a gentleman’s study, and it’s an attractively appointed one – the room is based around furniture with plenty of locked drawers and suchlike, but it didn’t feel like they’d scrimped on the build.
Dead Man’s Secret uses both padlocks and hidden electronics in places, but what stood out was the many ways it used purely mechanical ways of hiding things. For whatever reason I find it reliably more satisfying to release a hidden physical catch than to trigger an electronic switch, and this is a room which contains plenty of secrets to uncover.
While much of the game involved hands-on physical manipulation (via proxy, of course), it also used some paper-based puzzles, the kind of brain teasers that would work equally well on a screen or as a printed puzzle. This sort of puzzle can work fairly well in real life, with one or two people peering over it while the others explore the room further; and that would also be possible if it were available in an inventory system. As it was, it became a bottleneck – a perfectly reasonable puzzle, but not one that needed five people all working on it in parallel.
A couple of times I felt we were rather at the mercy of where our avatar chose to point his camera, missing important details that we would have definitely (probably) spotted quickly as an in-person team. He was also very methodical, and I thought he didn’t need to wait for quite so much step-by-step detail from us to carry out what we were asking him to do.
That notwithstanding, it was a good looking game with a pleasing variety of little surprises and some nice paraphernalia later on, and while it would be better in person than over a livestream it worked well enough remotely. Due to the lack of a separate inventory screen I’d recommend it for smaller groups.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.