This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Number of Players: 6-12
Time: 60-90 minutes
Game Type: Murder Mystery
Gamer Type: Casual
With the rise in the popularity of escape rooms, and the rise in the price of gas, some people want to have the “mystery” element of gaming brought into their own house. The old “How to Host a Murder” games are hum-drum and you can only play through them once. People want a fun game they can play multiple times and still have to guess who is the murderer. Enter Darkridge Reunion from Starlux Games. This game brings out all the elements we love from the murder mystery with a recursive methodology that allows each game to be different and exciting.
When you are looking at a murder mystery, you want the environment to be creepy. For most people, one of the creepiest environments that you can enter into is a high school reunion. You have the elitists who are trying to show they did better than everyone else, whether they have or not. Some have the jocks that are still living their glory days from 20 years ago. There are the nerds who are afraid to live up to the livesthey have made for themselves, and there are those creepy guys and gals that are just looking to score with the people who thought that “they were too good for them” when they were in school. Starlux captures the creepiness of the high school reunion and places a slasher into the mix. To make things more fun, if you die, you become a ghost so you can keep playing. 9 of 10 for story.
The card art has that “prom night” feel that many reunion committees want to capture in their reunion, even though the thought of going to a chaperoned dance in your 30s-40s adds to the creepy vibe of the reunion. This really feeds into the environment of the game raising the suspense. The box is a standard mid-sized box, so it fits on your shelf. The graphics are good enough that they grab your attention, but not too over the top that they move away from the theme. The star of the game, however, is the glowing dagger that the slasher gets to use to stab the other players (it is foam). This is not only a beautiful addition to the game that fits Starlux’s glow in the dark brand, it also has functionality as the slasher has to keep it hidden during the course of the game. 8 of 10 for artwork.
This is a large group party game, so the mechanics are directed towards the gateway environment. Some reviewers would have a problem with this, but since this is the market the game is geared for, I see it as a bonus. Players receive roles for the game, each with their own missions. One player is the slasher and his goal is to kill people. The game encourages people to be assigned roles before they come; this allows them to dress up for the game (making it more fun). Whoever is the slasher needs to have room to hide the dagger, so every one needs to dress with somewhere to hide things. Once the game starts, the play area needs at least three “rooms” for people to go into (these can be outdoor areas). The goal is to separate people so everyone can accomplish their goals. This adds to the suspense, because who wants to be cornered by someone they did not like in high school? The game is broken into three phases; in each of the phases, the time keeper will bring people back together at the end. During the phases, each person needs to try to accomplish his goals. 6 of 10.
This game is very cool in the way it deals with offense and defense – it is just like a reunion. Some people will do what they want, some will sit back, and some will work all night to get to a point that they just never reach. There is a little rush to the game – the killer can go hog wild (but this usually will get him caught). There is no engine building, so that area is not represented. How aggressive you are really depends on your personality – once again, like a high school reunion. 7 of 10.
This game brings the “mystery” game back to the forefront. As I alluded to earlier, the “How to Host a Murder” games from the 90’s were one-offs, which made them an expensive hobby. Realistically, you could play this game about 6 times with the same people before you see all the cards and everyone gets to be every role. That is 6x as much bang for your buck as the other types of games. The added slasher element really makes the game exciting. 7 of 10.
I cannot think of a better location for a modern murder mystery. Trains are worn out. Victorian mansions are so 1950s. A reunion is creepy and the people there are fake, so it is the perfect environment. With a score of 37 this is a killer game to play when you hang out with your friends. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to stab their friends with a foam knife? This game has the potential to revolutionize the genre and return mystery (and thinking) to the mainstream gaming world.