CluedUpp Review – Manhunt Murder Mystery Game
Every now and then, my gaming group likes to do something a little bit different. Whether that is a VR experience, an Escape the Room type thing, or some kind of Expo or tournament throughout the year. Last weekend, we decided to take part in CluedUpp, an app-based experience that places a murder mystery in a town near you, only for you to explore the town and “interview the witnesses”. It’s a puzzle solving experience, where you have to, as a team, solve puzzles to unlock witness testimony at each location. Once you have unlocked the witness testimony you have to figure out how that fits into the overall narrative.
47 teams completed the CluedUpp experience we took part in. You could start the game any time after 10am, but you had to be finished by 5pm. This was the second CluedUpp experience we have taken part in, with our team The Short Sighted Private Eyes coming second in our first game. We even got sent a trophy in the post to prove it.
This year we…
Okay, so we came third this time.
As I understand it, CluedUpp is an experience that takes place around four times per year per location. It costs £35 per team, with 6 people maximum within that team. The whole thing took around 6000 steps walking (Fitbit, before you ask), which is what? Three miles? Something like that.
So, let’s get onto the actual review.
From the look of some of the other introductions for other locations, it looks like some are doing the story we did last time, so I’ll try to keep this a spoiler free review – just in case. There is one image I’ll use of a segment of the map. If you don’t want to see it, then quit here.
CluedUpp Review: Concept and Story
CluedUpp is a very simple concept. You, as players, download the CluedUpp app wherein you get told a part of a story. Once you have read that you are told to proceed to a specific location in the town you are in. From there you type a code into the app (the code is what you pay for) and the timer starts.
The app itself is (essentially) a glorified GPS. It tracks you as you walk around the town. You can see people icons on the map, and as you draw close to them your phone will buzz. A question will come up.
The first CluedUpp we did only seemed to have logic puzzles and questions about the town we were in. This time around we had proper hunting around style clues added into the mix, asking us to search for specific things. These could be specific flagstones, or words on monuments, or one incredibly well hidden metal sign that had us in awe when we found it. If you get a question wrong you get a one minute penalty, in which time the question freezes and you can’t answer it.
Once the question has been solved, there is a witness testimony that comes up on the screen. This is the “interview” and each person gives you information with which to solve the case. These range from people around the murder and suspects, to police and doctors.
There are 18 people to interview, with a total of 14 suspects who could have done it, and 5 murder weapons for each CluedUpp case. As you go through, a part of the app allows you to cross off all the suspects you believe innocent, and another place to cross the weapons off. The witness testimonies can be accessed anytime to be reread, once they have been unlocked.
Once you have interviewed everyone then you can submit your answer.
What’s It Like Playing The Game?
Leaving the direct answer of “very wet due to torrential rain”, playing CluedUpp is a highly fun experience. It’s nice being able to do a puzzle solving experience that includes playing detective as well as giving you exercise at the same time. There are essentially three basic aspects to the game –
- Navigating the town. We always try to find an optimised route, which last time was quite easy as it lead us on a circuit. This time we had to plan it out more thoroughly. Last time it meant all the groups were effectively taking the same route, but this time we didn’t have that issue.
- Solving the puzzles. Usually, this involves everyone either spreading out to look for clues or working together and picking brains to solve a solution. This can be great fun, especially when it is either a logic or “searching” style question. Personally, I am not a great fan of the “answer this question about the location you are in” style of question, but I realise some people may prefer those – who knows?
- Solving the murder. Usually, this kind of happens as you go along and you cross people off the list; however, due to the torrential rain we rushed through with the idea that we would just find a pub to hold up in afterwards to review everything. This, I hasten to add, worked really well.
All in all though, it is a highly enjoyable experience. Last time, the time before this, we had the misfortune of essentially following a really grumpy group around because it was more of a circular route. They ended up getting annoyed, thinking we were following them for the sake of it, when really we were just doing the same clues. We overtook them when we could and avoided them for the rest of the day.
This time around it was far friendlier, and when we came across another group we would smile or laugh at the ridiculousness of us running around a town in torrential rain trying to find a fictional killer. It was great fun and a really nice environment.
In regards to the story – well, to keep this spoiler free I can’t go into too much. Suffice to say that it was interesting, with new parts getting unlocked with each person we found. It wasn’t perfect, and sometimes leant so heavily on one suspect that Ockham’s Razor went completely out of the window. We knew it couldn’t be certain suspects because, at various moments, all the information pointed at them. It sounds weird but it’s a standard Murder Mystery trope.
That being said, once we had all the pieces, it felt really obvious. How had we not seen it before?
That moment of realisation is a sweet one within Murder Mystery games. It is great fun and, ultimately, why we play.
CluedUpp vs Escape Room Experiences
The obvious comparison to a game such as CluedUpp is an Escape Room, and there becomes a question about which you would do. My argument is that there is no real comparison, not because one game is better than another, but because there is no reason not to do both.
From a sheer experience perspective, if you want something themed and with highly complex puzzles, something that will get your adrenaline up, then an Escape the Room is the way to go; however, CluedUpp offers something different. It offers an environment driven experience that will have you discovering more about a local town.
The way I see it, Escape Rooms are like a Red Bull – you go in and known you will be buzzing for just under one hour, frantically trying to solve clues, and getting that adrenal hit that will make you twitch when you come out. CluedUpp, however, is more of a cup of tea. You take your time sipping it, pondering over life, and enjoying your environment. It’s a contemplative game.
So, there we have it – back to board games with the next article. I hope you have enjoyed this and, if you live in the UK, I seriously recommend looking out for CluedUpp in a town near you. You can check out the website and the events schedule here.