The Curse of the Burial Dagger Review | When everyone is a suspect, and a killer is on the loose, is anybody safe? A mansion near Dundee, 1923. Susie Sato finds herself investigating a murder when her great-uncle and host Lord Hamilton is found dead in his private museum, an ancient Egyptian burial dagger protruding from his back. Could it be the curse of the dagger, an object Lord Hamilton was warned not to remove from the tomb? Or could something else have caused his death?
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 20th October 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Narrative Driven (aka easy-ish)
Fast Familiar are one of those ‘experience creators’ who I have all notifications switched on for. When they create a new game – whatever it looks like – I’m first in line in the metaphorical queue at midnight to get my hands on it. The Curse of the Burial Dagger was no different. Even though it’s not quite an escape room (technically it is a forensic science game), it’s got buckets of that light hearted comedy, fun puzzles, and rich diverse characters I come to expect of all Fast Familiar games. It’s also been developed in collaboration with the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science. Meaning, it’s also educational.
How quickly can I press play?! Will I be judged if I play twice, or even three times?
Another huge fan of the Fast Familiar series, Rebecca and I teamed up together to take on the new, murder mystery challenge on a Wednesday evening in October where the stars were out outside and murder was afoot within!
An Introduction to Forensic Science
Our main character, the lovable Suzie Sato (who I may have a slight crush on) is a forensic science student. In this adventure, she’s walked right into a murder scene – the perfect opportunity to put her skills to the test! This is where you, the players come in. Suzie talks directly to the camera in a series of graphic novel style panels and its up to you, the players, to draw conclusions from the evidence presented and the interviews she conducts.
This is what I mean when I say it’s not exactly an escape game. No, this is a visual novel game which is occasionally broken up with a puzzle or two, and at the end you must make a judgement on who you think the killer truly is. There are two things you want to watch out for when solving this game:
- What the characters say – hidden among the jokes and humorous encounters are some real nuggets of truth. Who said they were where, when, and why?
- The conclusions from the scientific and mathematical puzzles you solve with Suzie. What do they really tell you about the scene?
Science is Fun
In terms of those mathematical and scientific puzzles, these are rooted in real life forensic science techniques, and players can expect to grapple with a number of styles including mathematical puzzles, chromatography puzzles, fingerprint analysis, and so on. There are also more ‘traditional’ escape room style puzzles, including jigsaws and spot the difference and cross-referencing data.
Since The Curse of the Burial Dagger is recommended for players aged 10 and above, it’s not too difficult. Yes, we did get very hung up on the maths puzzle, but so did I when we played Bad Altitude earlier this year.
In addition to traditional puzzles, there’s a really interesting murder mystery deduction mechanic to the game which really sets this game apart from others in the genre. Along the way you as players can make deductions and assumptions by ranking different statements as “likely” or “not likely”. At any time you can go back and alter your statements if you change your mind or make a mistake. This was really cool and unlike anything else I’ve seen in a murder mystery game, but it just worked so well! It also set up the premise of what you need to be looking out for.
A Lesson in Brilliant Storytelling
If you took out all the interactivity and just made this a graphic novel book, heck I’d still buy it. If you turned it into a TV show, I’d binge it. If you did this experience in any other medium it would still be excellent – and that’s good storytelling! One of the best things about Fast Familiar is that they always get this spot on.
For starters, there’s the characters:
- Suzie, played by Ami Okumura Jones
- Syed, played by Jamie Zubairi
- Lady Hamilton, played by Rachel Donovan
- Struana, played by Sarah Waddell
- Hywel, played by Delme Thomas
Then, there’s the humour. With excellent writing from Dan Barnard, Delme Thomas and Rachel Briscoe I’d expect nothing less – but The Curse of the Burial Dagger is particularly amusing and jsut enough twists to keep us hooked right until the end.
The Curse of the Burial Dagger is a fantastic experience. Unmissable if you’re a fan of murder mysteries, and something a little outside of the box if you’re more of a traditional escape room audience. Once again Fast Familiar have nailed it and their new game is perfect for all audiences.
The Curse of the Burial Dagger can be booked on Fast Familiar’s website here.