Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Arrive at the crime scene, look for clues and evidence, interrogate witnesses, and then use your powers of deduction in order to solve the crime. It’s a well-worn formula that works. For the most part Murder Mystery Machine tries to honor this process, and the real focus of the game is on a board where all of the current information you’ve gathered is on display, with the goal being to start making associations to solve the case and help justify your conclusion. While I think the system itself is a smart one conceptually, in execution more often than not it left me feeling bewildered on what specific tidbits the game wanted me to put together, even when I felt like I had a good idea of what happened. Without pairing the precisely correct items with one another entire dialogue trees aren’t available to you, creating loops where you’ll be at a dead stop, with no actions you can take, so you’ll just inevitably begin pairing clues in the hopes that you stumble onto the magic combination that’s being sought at the time. It’s at that point where the illusion of you working though the process is shattered for the most part and the very linear nature of the underpinnings reveal themselves. It can still be a good bit of fun, but the rigidity of how you associate specific items with one another (even when it feels like other pairing with items in the same groups makes sense) can make it a frustrating experience at times.
Justin Nation, Score: