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Cold Case Inc. - "Benefits and Burdens"


Photo above is property of Cold Case Inc.

Company: Cold Case Inc.

Game: Benefits and Burdens

Country: United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Language: English

Type of Game: Digital Escape Game 💻

Genre: Mystery, Detective

Date Played: May 15, 2024

Difficulty (based on 2 players): 7/10

Size of Team: Unlimited

Time: Approximately 4-6 Hours

Price: $14.99


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What happened to Liam Davis?


When his long time partner and caregiver, Zoe, arrives on the morning of disappearance, the door is wide open, and there is no sign of the longtime MS sufferer. Which makes it all the more strange - Did he take his own life, amongst a worsening illness, or was it the benefits fraud hysteria bearing down on him, or the turbulence of his renewed relationship with his formerly estranged daughter? Not to mention Zoes own disappointment of being cut out of his will. Or was it foul play? Find the current of truth under the turbulent surface, and follow the stream of clues as they lead you to discover what happened to Liam Davis.


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"Benefits and Burdens" is another stellar entry in what is becoming quite the mystery game oeuvre. It is once again a masterclass of that classic, realistic, dig through the evidence and do the hard mental plugging, genre of mystery games. This cake has layers. If you're unfamiliar with the series, and you like narrative mysteries, and love sifting through a very well crafted tangle of evidence, ala a bonified detective, then i suggest you get familiar with the Cold Case Inc. cases. I have to admit to once again finding myself completely stumped, in the middle of a dark woods at the mid point in life, wide eyed and wondering, surveying the case and my copious notes, with more questions than answers, wiser for it, but still not wise enough yet - which is all part of the experience - until you find that thread, the one you wrote on the crumpled note you through in the wastebasket, digging it out and spreading it upon the table, as the wheels start turning, and the case opens up to you again, and you are filled with the excitement and wonder of making a new beginning. It's daunting, it will put you to the test, but without this risk of information overload, and the infinite sky of possibilities, you would not be able to feel yourself fly, feel the raw power of your deductive prowess. Which is the sign of a good mystery, and a well crafted one, as this case is.


Photos above are property of Cold Case Inc.


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What makes a good mystery game? It has an interesting and tangled, but plausible, narrative. Like a story it shows without over telling. What are these games primarily about - induction and deduction, identifying the meaning of what is before you, and constructing through your powers of reason what they actually mean. This game does a really good job of forcing you to think through the evidence and make those necessary interconnections which will eventually build into a picture that will allow you to finger the right suspect. There is no smoking gun, just like in real life, in fact it wouldn't make sense if the evidence was this simple. It requires more of a kind of negative capacity, working in the absence of absolute proof. A lot of the time you are identifying what evidence may appear substantial but is in fact not, and this is the other half of what following a lead is, and there are many many leads to follow, think through, and connect within this game. And although a game lives or dies by those eureka moments, those deep proofs - and it has more than a handful of ingenious evidence puzzles to blow your mind - what working the bits of information does is that it points you in the right direction, and you will need a direction, for appearances can be deceiving. What ultimately points you to the suspect is more a mountain of lies than it is of truths.


Photos above are property of ESCAPETHEROOMers


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I love these case files, and I know how hard they are to create. It is extremely challenging to put together something that doesn't just give it away, and that remains logically consistent throughout, especially when you have nerds like me trying to think through every angle of the evidence, it's hard to anticipate all the possible interpretations, and the game does a marvelous job at countenancing all these possibilities, which is impressive. I think some people might think it's too much, but I tell you, the fun is in the chase, it's in the leg work. Tough yes, realistic yes, but it is all the more an immersive experience for it. That would be my only thought for why people might be hesitant to play this style of game. Do it with another person simultaneously so you can bounce ideas off each other, for maximal fun. I highly recommend you try the Cold Case Inc. games, and I can't wait for the next installment!

 

(If you do decide to try this experience, give us a shoutout or tag us on social media so we know you heard it from "ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)


Disclosure: We thank Cold Case Inc. for providing us with samples of the game. Although a complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.


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