PN Product Review: ThinkFun’s Cold Case: A Pinch of Murder

pinch of murder box

[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

A puzzle can leave you baffled for the longest time. You think you’ve examined it from every possible angle, and yet, you’re still left without a solution. Then a fresh pair of eyes arrives, and suddenly all of the pieces fall into place.

Maybe it’s a friend or colleague who sees something you’ve missed, or simply hasn’t been stuck running through the same paths over and over. Or maybe it’s you, having taken a break from the puzzle, stepped away, and returned, now recharged and refreshed and ready to start again.

And that’s the mindset behind ThinkFun’s new Cold Case series. In this puzzle game, you are picking up where a previous investigation left off, trying to close an unsolved murder case.

pinch of murder 2

In today’s spoiler-free review, we’re looking at A Pinch of Murder, the second of two Cold Case mysteries being released in the next few weeks.

A Pinch of Murder presents players with the story of Harold Green, a loyal churchgoer found dead late one afternoon in 1983.

You have transcripts of police interviews with suspects, witness statements, evidence, photographs, and other items collected by the police during their initial investigation. But it’s up to you to comb through the evidence and find what they missed.

There is so much material here that it’s a bit daunting at first. The dizzying array of suspects and names takes a while to get a handle on, even as you carefully read through every scrap of evidence. The presentation is very impressive, with different types of paper and full-color reproductions of photographs and other materials really adding to the immersive feel of the game.

And this case file feels totally different from the one included in the previous entry in the Cold Case series, A Story to Die For. You receive bits of evidence in unfamiliar formats, the interviews are presented differently, and it genuinely feels like a separate team of investigators put this set together.

pinch of murder 1

Harold Green’s life unfolds before you in little bits and bobs, and the glimpses you get of his town, the people around him, and his day-to-day existence feel so credible.

And once you think you’ve cracked the case and found answers for all of the questions left behind by the initial investigation, you can test your theory by going to the ThinkFun Cold Case website and submitting your answers.

If you’re on the wrong track, the replies from the website will give you clues on where to look in order to correctly solve the case. And if your detective skills are in tiptop condition, you’ll get more information and a chance to read the suspect’s confession!

But with no shortage of suspects and a wealth of material to pore over in order to track down the killer and tie up every loose end, this is hardly a cakewalk. You’ll need to pay attention, read between the lines, and make connections like a proper detective.

Solving puzzles is great fun, but to actually feel like you’re solving a murder? That’s something special. Whether you’re solving alone or with friends, the hour or two you spend eliminating suspects and narrowing down the truth in this mystery game will absolutely be worthwhile. When you have that a-ha moment and you know you’ve earned it, there’s nothing quite like it.

ThinkFun has only made two of these so far, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next ones.

[Cold Case: A Pinch of Murder is part of ThinkFun’s Cold Case series, designed for players ages 14 and up, and is available for $14.99 from ThinkFun and other associated retailers. Pre-orders start June 1st! Links coming soon!]


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