“Extraordinary Weekly”, 10/30/1956: “The death of Janice Ward, a young mother of two and a waitress at Stanley’s Diner, is being investigated in connection to similar cases in the state…” This time, Game Master assigns you to work as a cop in the fifties. Bring justice to the victims of a serial killer who clearly has a thing for junk food! Expect case files, coroner’s reports, & footage of suspects’ interrogations.
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 1st May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Armchair detectives and amateur sleuths!
📢 ANNOUNCEMENT 📢
You can win a copy of Breakfast for a Serial Killer from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!
TW: This game contains themes of murder and domestic violence. It is non graphic and I think suitable for players aged 13+ with parental supervision.
Breakfast for a Serial Killer is the 4th chapter in the Scarlet Envelope series and this time we’re in 1950s Canada complete with cute hairstyles, diners and- of course- murder! In all sense of the word, this game is a classic murder mystery. 5 suspects, 2 victims, and you the detective. You’ve been sent back in time to catch a serial killer before they go on to kill again. Exciting? Heck yeah! I love murder mystery games.
Breakfast for a Serial Killer takes a linear format. What this means is you interview each suspect one after the other and as each new testimony becomes available you gain access to new pieces of evidence. The game holds your hand through the mystery slightly: you only know what you need to know. Each reveal is a new “aha!” moment revealing just enough to keep you guessing!
The final whodunnit is entirely up to you however. Even after following the game diligently and listening to everything twice, I still needed to pause before I made my guess. “Is this too obvious a guess?”, “But what about this character”, “This person is definitely lying”.
Thankfully, I guessed correctly! *flex* but more on that later!
A body is found at Stanley’s Diner a little after 2am – it is the head waitress, Janice! With only 5 people in the diner at the time of death, there aren’t a lot of suspects. But the most curious thing is that this murder bears a striking resemblance to another, only a week earlier. Do we have a serial killer on the loose? Gather the evidence, interview the suspects, and make an arrest.
Like all of the Scarlet Envelope games, the experience begins when you receive a mysterious red envelope through your letterbox! Breakfast for a Serial Killer is packed! It contains a lot of material for such a small envelope – especially when compared to Distress Call from Outer Space which is largely online.
You receive a menu, an autopsy report, instructions, suspect profiles, and a few mysterious items found on the body. Elsewhere are three pieces of ‘further evidence’ that you mustn’t open until prompted. To get started, you head online and begin your investigation – ergo, interviewing the suspects!
This game is a little like the videogame “L.A. Noire” (set later and not in L.A. of course). One of the key mechanics in L.A. Noire is the facial mapping of actors telling the truth and lying. Players must literally look for subtle clues as to who is telling the truth. Breakfast for a Serial Killer does a similar thing in it’s video interviews!
I really, really enjoyed the watching the interviews and spent wayy too long rewinding parts to be like “oh this character touched their face when they said this! They must be lying“. It makes you feel like a real detective! People, after all, are the greatest puzzle to be solved!
At the time of writing, only two suspects have video performances. The other three are audio-only. I don’t know if the creators have plans to add more video content but it would be a super nice touch to see in the future!
At the end of each video, you also receive a sample of additional evidence – items each suspect has in their pockets: A bus ticket, some coins, a leaflet, that sort of thing. The game then prompts a question which you must answer by inputting a password before you can proceed.
For me, Breakfast for a Serial Killer errs on the side of “ok this wasn’t too hard”. I say this having found every other game in the series quite challenging! There are less puzzles per se, and the game relies more on your powers of deduction as to who is lying, what is possible in the time and who has a believable alibi.
That said, there are still quite a few fun things to solve. In particular, I enjoyed one of the first puzzles in the game which required cutting things out to reveal a hidden message. It was creative and creepy, just like the sort of message a real serial killer would leave!
Other puzzles players can expect to come across include ones involving maths, some colour-based visual puzzles, some very cool dingbats, a cipher and more! There’s a good mix, but this is definitely a game for people who enjoy the logic of solving crimes more than the nitty gritty of puzzle after puzzle.
So as mentioned, I guess correctly! Yay! To correctly ‘solve’ the murder, I’d advise really paying attention to everything. Not everything is important, but when the outro video explains it all there were quite a few “OHH!! WOW!!” moments where I’d missed some clue that made so much sense when spelled out.
Everyone has a good motive and all the suspects were acting very funny at the time of the death, but it’s important to remember the details of the crime itself too… This is me trying not to give a spoiler, but also trying to give some useful advice to budding detectives after me!
I guess the most important thing is to have fun though! The game will still let you proceed even if you guess incorrectly so don’t sweat it if you’re wrong.
In conclusion, great fun! I love murder mystery and this ticks that box in a refreshing, unique and creative way. I definitely don’t play as many murder mystery games as I’d like, but enjoying this as much as I did has given me some new found inspiration to go play more!
Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.