A body has been found in the woods. A body dressed as a clown. Who would want him dead and why? It is time to call in Detective Slaughter and Constable Butcher of the RCI “Remote Control Investigations” Department. A new initiative to bring audience interactions to the front of the case. Every great investigator has their tech support back at the office. The guys in the chair. The boys in the back. Ethan Hunt has Luther and Benji. Jack Bauer has Chloe O’Brien. Even Annika Rice had a team in the studio. And we have you.
Detective Slaughter & Co. on the case!
The last thing I expected to do on a Sunday afternoon was to solve a thrilling murder case via Zoom, livestreamed as Detective Slaughter & Constable Butcher chased down witnesses and killers through muddy parks and alleys in London… But teamed up with 8 other individuals this is exactly what we did! Play Dead London‘s latest online murder mystery is equal parts creative and very unique and themed around a rather curious case of a dead clown.
This play at home murder mystery game puts you at the heart of a mystery that isn’t at all what it seems at first glance. You join a Zoom call with a number of strangers (or friends, if you book your ticket together), and are introduced to Detective Slaughter. You’re on their taskforce and they’ve just received a call about a really unusual death in a nearby park.
Not wanting all these detectives muddying the crime scene (or more likely to do with the *cough* global panini), you join remotely from the RCI (Remote Control Investigations) HQ whilst Constable Butcher plays your eyes and ears in a real-life location. But that’s not to say you don’t get to do any detective work – quite the opposite – it’s your role to choose where Butcher goes and what Butcher does. You also have the important job of interviewing each of the suspects in turn.
It’s like Zoom was built for murder mysteries
This is where the video conference platform, Zoom, really comes into it’s own – it’s almost like it was made for murder mysteries. At key points in the game as a collective group, you all get to vote on the next action with a very handy ‘pop-up’ on screen. To be more specific, your detective will reach a crossroads:
- Stop to investigate the mysterious old tree
- Or follow the suspect on foot
How you vote will change the outcome of the whole adventure – choose to go one way and not the other and you may miss out on a clue which cracks the whole case. The decision is yours.
Further into the game the list of suspects started to grow. Play Dead London mentioned in advance that we’d be split off into breakout rooms at points in the game, but what this really meant was that we’d be able to interview suspects in a private room in real time. Very cool, and a lot more interactive than I’d expected it to get!
The Case of the Clown in the Woods
So what is the case exactly? The Case of the Clown in the Woods begins at the discover of the body and ends with around eight actors together, ready for your final verdict as you make the most important vote of the night and point a finger at the culprit. After searching the body, Constable Butcher discovers a number of objects that lead to new locations and you quickly discover that this clown is working at a nearby travelling circus. There’s mystery afoot and a tangled web of lies following the clown as you’ll meet their colleagues, love interest, business partner and so on.
When it comes to this case, you’ll get out as much as you put in…. And honestly? I struggled! But I did get the answer correct at the end, with a little bit of brain power and elbow grease. It’s all about social deduction and asking the right questions to the right witnesses – neither of which I did correctly, so lucky guess or gut feeling either way, I’ve the making of a detective within me that’s for sure.
A round of applause for the cast!
The absolute highlight of the show was interacting with the actors! Each cast member of this 8-member crew played a fantastic role in building suspense and setting the scene. I absolutely loved the extravagance of it all – from chanting at poor Constable Butcher to run faster as he sped through the open space, to the twists and turns each new person brought to the story.
In particular, I loved the actors who played the roles at Police HQ and TP Barnuts, the latter of which a commanding and slightly terrifying circus leader with excellent lipstick. But each and every character brought their own brand of hilarious, larger than life special sauce to the show. A round of applause!
Let’s face it, returning to work or big social gatherings isn’t going to immediately go back to how it was pre-lockdown for a very, very long time. So I’d recommend this game for anyone looking for something a little bit different for an office team building event, or a party with a big group of friends… From the comfort of your own home!
If you’re neither of those groups and are just really into murder mysteries *cough* like I am, you can book a single or a household ticket instead and join a group of strangers for the ‘main show’ before splitting off into your private breakout rooms to interview the suspects.
In either case, it’s a really great way to spend an evening and I can’t emphasise enough how much fun I had with Play Dead London. Did I mention they also do real-life mysteries? That’s one to watch out for when they return later in the year!
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.