Are you looking for fun things to do by yourself or as a small group of people? And perhaps better yet, from the comfort of your own home? If you’re the type of person that likes putting your brain to work to crack a mystery, then a mystery box game may be right for you!

What is a mystery box

But first, what is a mystery box game? A mystery box game is an at-home game that contains an objective to crack a case. As an example, the case could be figuring out who the perpetrator is for a murder or a kidnapping. The game provides all of the materials you need to explain the objective and give you the clues required to connect the dots.

Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as it might sound. You’ll need to comb through the evidence and even solve some puzzles or riddles. This might mean translating encoded messages or figuring out through logic that someone has a real alibi. Or, the perpetrator may have left some very perplexing clues that require even more out-of-the-box thinking to unravel the truth.

Two people playing Blackbrim: 1876

If that sounds fun, then you’re in luck! There are many mystery box games you can try, all with a slightly different feel to them. Some have much richer storylines with less detective work. Others have lots of puzzles, which some players love, but less of a storyline. There are many flavors of mystery boxes for practically anyone, so let’s dive in and look at some of the best mystery box games out there.

Categories of Mystery Box Games

Here are 10 mystery box game companies grouped by common factors. Be sure to keep reading since there are in-depth reviews on each of them below!

Are you a fan of “true crime” shows or podcasts? You’ll enjoy:

  • Hunt a Killer
  • A Killing Affair

Love stretching your mind and solving unique puzzles? Check out:

  • Deadbolt Mystery Society
  • Puzzling Pursuits
  • Bluefish Games

Want a game you can play with the kids? You’ll probably like:

  • Finders Seekers
  • The Conundrum Box

Want a premium experience? Then you should look into:

  • Society of Curiosities
  • DarkPark Games
  • Crack-a-Nut Mysteries

Hunt a Killer

Hunt a Killer is one of the best-known companies in the mystery box game space. With over two million boxes sold to date, their main mystery games are in the form of a monthly subscription. Each mystery or storyline takes place over six months. Each month, they send you additional clues and information so that you can continue to narrow down the list of suspects. By the sixth month, you get your final box where you can figure out who the murderer is.

Playing Hunt a Killer

Source: Game Night Gods

The six month-long mystery has its pros and cons. On the one hand, the storyline is much richer since all of the characters can be fleshed out in great detail. However, for those that are considering giving it a try, it can be a large commitment upfront. Some players also don’t like the fact that the mystery is drawn out over six months - they’d rather play out the entire game sooner. Luckily, there are some options if that sounds like you.

First, you can try their one-off mystery box game, Death at a Dive Bar. This game can be bought at Target or on Amazon. The entire mystery can be solved within an hour or two, and the single purchase of $30 gives you all of the items you need to crack the case.

Second, you can buy an entire “season” (i.e. all six episodes of one mystery) at once second-hand for a discount. Many players are careful not to write on or modify any of the components, and then they re-sell the entire set afterwards, often for a steep discount. If this sounds interesting, you can check out ebay or groups such as the Mystery Subscription Discussion group on Facebook.

Hunt a Killer Summary

Price: $$$

They are more expensive because playing through an entire mystery in their core subscription line is $30 x 6 = $180. However, they have high production quality. They have extremely realistic custom artwork and high-quality materials.

Subscription? Yes

They mainly are a subscription but have a one-off game as well.

Storyline: Strong

They showcase many characters with different relationships. They do a good job capturing a wide range of human backgrounds, emotions, and potential motives.

Types of Clues: Largely detective work

Most of the work involves reading through large quantities of evidence and making logical deductions from there. 

Difficulty Rating: Easy to medium

Hunt a Killer is on the easier side of mystery box games. They are great for those who are new to mystery box games. They also have a rich storyline which can keep players entertained who are more used to this type of gameplay. However, there have been some complaints that some of their boxes are too easy (for instance, figuring out a box only took the players 5-10 minutes to solve… and then they have to wait an entire month for the next one).

 

A Killing Affair

A Killing Affair is similar to Hunt a Killer in that each mystery spans multiple boxes. In A Killing Affair’s case, each “season” (or mystery) spans 5 “episodes” (or boxes). Each episode will help you narrow down the suspects, and the final episode allows you to convict the killer.

A Killing Affair

Source: Etsy

The games have strong storylines, high-quality props, and unique puzzles. It is definitely worth checking out if you like Hunt a Killer and want to play a version that tries to raise the bar even further.

Summary of A Killing Affair

Price: $$$

Their games are $32.50/month. Players tend to take a few hours to solve each box, and the total spend for a 5 episode mystery is $162.50.

Subscription? Yes

They will ship your first episode usually within 24 hours and then your next episode is shipped in the middle of every month afterward.

Storyline: Strong

Because the storyline is developed over 5 boxes, there are many characters that can be fleshed out.

Types of Clues: Varied

They have a good mix of puzzles, websites to visit for more information, and actual physical evidence to examine for hidden clues.

Difficulty Rating: Medium


Deadbolt Mystery Society

Deadbolt Mystery Society is another well-known company in the mystery box space. While they have a monthly subscription, each of their games are entirely self-contained. That means that one box lets you solve the complete mystery, which some players like over Hunt a Killer. The trade-off is that their storyline has less time to flesh out in comparison.

Deadbolt Mystery Society: The Cabin

Source: Room Escape Artist

There are also a number of other differences between them. Deadbolt Mystery Society has many puzzles that are more unique than detective sleuthing. While the puzzles don’t always fit into the narrative as neatly, they tend to offer a lot more variety. For instance, rather than encoded messages which Hunt a Killer has a lot of, Deadbolt Mystery Society contains some unique puzzles such as using a CD and a grid of numbers to reveal a message.

Deadbolt Mystery Society Summary

Price: $

At $25 per game plus ~$5 shipping, they are well-priced for the several hours of entertainment most people will get.

Subscription? Yes

They have a monthly subscription, or you can buy one-off games.

Storyline: Medium

They showcase many characters with different relationships.

Types of Clues: Varied

Their clues consist of a variety of different puzzles and pieces of detective work a player will have to do.

Difficulty Rating: Medium to Hard

Deadbolt Mystery Society rates their boxes by difficulty from 1 to 10, based on player feedback. Their easiest box starts at 5/10 and their hardest boxes are 9/10. See their list of games with difficulty ratings here.


Puzzling Pursuits

We would be remiss to not mention our company, Puzzling Pursuits. Different from many of the other offerings out there including the ones already mentioned, Puzzling Pursuits games are sold as a one-off box as opposed to a subscription. Further, they are a little different in that each of their games contains two parts. Many players split up a box into two or more play sessions, allowing a game to be enjoyed for multiple hours.

Some of the components in Puzzling Pursuit's La Famiglia

There are currently two games being offered, BLACKBRIM: 1876 and LA FAMIGLIA. Each of the games is set in different historical periods (e.g. Victorian England, the Roaring Twenties) and packed full of a variety of puzzles to work through.

Puzzling Pursuits Summary

Price: $

At $30 per (2 part) game, they are well-priced.

Subscription? No

Their games are one-time purchases.

Storyline: Medium

Each game has a unique storyline, but also includes a wide variety of puzzles and clues to solve.

Types of Clues: Varied

Their clues consist of a variety of different puzzles and pieces of detective work a player will have to do.

Difficulty Rating: Medium to Hard

While many players new to mystery boxes have enjoyed Puzzling Pursuits games, they tend to be a bit harder than other options on the market. Check them out if you’re up for a challenge or don’t mind spending a few hours on a mystery box game.


Bluefish Games

Bluefish Games began as a Kickstarter and now has two main games out, The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks and The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks. New players should start with the Elevator, which is easier, longer, and their main game offering. For a challenge, players can pick up Stairs and go up against a few very tricky puzzles!

Bluefish Games are known for a light storyline that is quirky and fun. Most importantly, Bluefish Games are perfect for players who love solving unique puzzles above all else.

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks

Source: The Escape Room-er

They also offer monthly Gazettes, which have a few puzzles within a newspaper format. The gazettes can be a great way to try out Bluefish Games since they are much cheaper (see below on pricing).

Summary of Bluefish Games

Price: $

Their main game, The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, is $37. Their next game which is about half the size, The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks, is $18, and there is a discount if you buy both together. The Gazette is $7 for one and $10 for two.

Subscription? No

Storyline: Light

While there is a light-hearted, quirky premise, the main core of Bluefish Games are the unique puzzles.

Types of Clues: Varied

You won’t get bored with the wide variety of clues and puzzles they have in their games.

Difficulty Rating: Medium to Hard


Finders Seekers

Finders Seekers is a family-friendly mystery box game. While there is an objective to complete for each box, rather than a murder it tends to be something more appropriate for any age. However, there is a mystery to solve every box, and you’ll need to work through all of the clues provided to crack the case.

Finders Seekers

Source: Geek Dad

Similar to Deadbolt Mystery Society, Finders Seekers has a monthly subscription, but each of the games they send out is fully encapsulated. Uniquely, each month also represents a particular location. Some past boxes are based in Toronto, San Francisco, and Athens. 

Finders Seekers Summary

Price: $

At $30 per month, they are well-priced.

Subscription? Yes

They have a monthly subscription.

Storyline: Light

This game will likely be more enjoyable to players who prefer solving puzzles over a deep storyline. Each game does delve into a variety of aspects of the month’s country, however. 

Types of Clues: Varied

Their clues consist of a variety of different puzzles and pieces of detective work a player will have to do.

Difficulty Rating: Easy to Medium

Finders Seekers tend to be on the easier side of games out there. This makes them even more family friendly so that younger players can also contribute.


The Conundrum Box

The Conundrum Box is similar in style to Finders Seekers. It’s a family-friendly monthly (or bimonthly) subscription box service that is part escape room, part puzzle narrative. If you don’t want to sign up for a subscription right away, they also sell individual boxed games on their online store.

The Conundrum Box

Source: ESCAPE THE ROOMers

The boxes are designed by an experienced group of escape room creators, board game makers, and puzzle enthusiasts. With 15 years of game creation experience, they’re also avid players themselves, having played through 800 escape rooms!

Summary of The Conundrum Box

Price: $

At $30 per month, they are well-priced.

Subscription? Yes

They have a monthly subscription.

Storyline: Medium

All of their boxes are grounded in an event with a very unique storyline.

Types of Clues: Varied

Their clues consist of a variety of different puzzles and pieces of detective work a player will have to do.

Difficulty Rating: Medium


Society of Curiosities

Society of Curiosities is created by award-winning escape room designers. They spent 5 years running the Kauai Escape Room before shifting their efforts to Society of Curiosities. Their main product is a subscription that provides a monthly mailing that cycles between a main game and two mini puzzles. So in total, you get one main game every three months. They also have shorter online-only games that can be purchased as a one-off.

Society of Curiosities

Source: Room Escape Artist

Their games have interesting digital elements. Many parts of the game require the players to text back and forth with a character in the storyline who is guiding the players to crack the case. Oftentimes, it feels like the character is real, even though most of the responses are actually automated.

Society of Curiosities Summary

Price: $$

While their price is $20/month, within a 3 month period, you would receive 1 full adventure, 1 mini mystery, and 1 postcard. So, you are paying $60 for the main adventure and a few small puzzles, making their price more middle of the pack.

Subscription? Yes

They have a monthly subscription, though they also have one-off shorter digital-only games.

Storyline: Medium to Strong

The interactive online elements (e.g. texting back and forth with a character) help enrich the storyline.

Types of Clues: Largely detective work

Most of the work involves reading through evidence and making logical deductions from there. There are some ciphers and puzzles as well.

Difficulty Rating: Medium

Most players should be able to make it through the entire game with perhaps only a few hints. It is enjoyable for new and more experienced players alike; the storyline and interactive elements have something to offer everyone.


DarkPark Games

DarkPark Games is another company that was founded by experienced escape room designers. Based in the Netherlands, they ship their games worldwide. They currently offer two games, Witchery Spell and Conspiracy-19.

DarkPark Games Witchery Spell

Source: Room Escape Artist

Their games can be purchased individually and are not part of a subscription. Players will receive a large box and many different types of items. Unlike many of the other companies, DarkPark games contain a huge variety of different clues. This is part of their huge appeal: they have creative props that weave nicely into a rich storyline. However, due to their materials and also because they ship from the Netherlands, their games tend to be more expensive than most.

DarkPark Games Summary

Price: $$$

Their games are $60 each plus shipping. To the US, that can be an additional $35-40. 

Subscription? No

They only sell one-time purchase games.

Storyline: Medium to Strong

Their storyline is enriched a great deal by the creative, high-quality props used. Each box contains many different items that are not usually found in mystery box games (e.g. special rocks, a container of salt, a candle, and more!).

Types of Clues: Varied

Their games have a great variety of puzzles and detective work sprinkled throughout.

Difficulty Rating: Medium to Hard

While many players new to mystery boxes have enjoyed DarkPark Games, they tend to be a bit harder than other options on the market. Check them out if you’re up for a challenge.


Crack-a-Nut Mysteries

Crack-a-Nut Mysteries is an artisanal mystery box experience, since each game is personalized to the players that ordered. Their offerings span different styles of gameplay and genres. S.O.U.P. (The Society for the Observation of Unknown Phenomena) contains humor and many puzzles throughout. Root of All Evil, on the other hand, has a darker premise with less of an emphasis on putting together clues or solving puzzles. Instead, it focuses on the narrative, taking the players along for an immersive story that unfolds through the use of items.

Crack-a-Nut Mysteries S.O.U.P.

Source: Crack-a-Nut Mysteries

If you’re looking for a more premium mystery box experience, Crack-a-Nut Mysteries should have something for you.

Crack-a-Nut Mysteries Summary

Price: $$$$

Their games are $77-135 each plus shipping. To the US, that appears to be an extra $20. This makes them the most expensive option we’ve reviewed.

Subscription? No

They only sell one-time purchase games.

Storyline: Medium to Strong

Their storyline is enriched a great deal by the props.

Types of Clues: Varied

Difficulty Rating: Easy to Medium


In Conclusion

If you’re looking for an engaging new form of entertainment, look no further than mystery boxes. With a wide variety of companies and games out there, you’re sure to find games you like.

Happy Puzzling!

Written by Puzzling Pursuits