Hunt a Killer produces great murder mystery games you can play from your own home. With over 3.5 million episodes shipped, they are arguably the largest murder mystery subscription box company.
Components from Box #1 of Hunt a Killer's Mallory Rock
Because of their popularity, we often get asked if Puzzling Pursuits games are similar to Hunt a Killer games. In many ways, Puzzling Pursuits games are like Hunt a Killer's mystery boxes with a few key differences. So, if you're looking for games like Hunt a Killer but with some tweaks, read on!
First, how are Puzzling Pursuits games like Hunt a Killer subscription boxes?
Before diving into differences, let's first talk about how Puzzling Pursuits and Hunt a Killer are similar.
Games from both companies come in a game box with many interactive components.
Each company creates collaborative games that you can play solo or in a group. Players must crack a case through solving puzzles and investigating materials left at a crime scene.
In a Hunt a Killer mystery subscription box, you might find a wide variety of clues. You'll need to look through flyers, personal letters, police reports, tabloid articles, and more in order to solve the monthly mystery.
Some materials from Hunt a Killer (Source: Game Night Gods)
Similarly, Puzzling Pursuits games come with a wide variety of materials to work through. In Blackbrim: 1876, you are a private detective who needs to find and save six hostages. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you'll be in for a treat. As you progress through the storyline, you'll need to look through a restaurant bill of fare, letters, photos, paintings, and more.
Some of the materials from BLACKBRIM: 1876
They can both be thought of as an escape room experience delivered to your home.
Like an escape room, both companies create collaborative games that require piecing together clues and solving puzzles. Of course, these games can be played from the comfort of your home instead of at an escape room establishment, which might be considered an advantage.
Family at home playing LA FAMIGLIA
Further, they both tend to take longer than the one hour limit at most escape rooms. As a result, games from both companies also have a rich storyline that isn't often the case in most escape rooms. These are just two of eight major reasons why you should try an escape room you can play from home.
Now that we've covered the similarities between Puzzling Pursuits and Hunt a Killer, let's talk about some differences.
Do you want to solve a murder mystery or are you open to other storylines?
Depending on how you answer this question, you may prefer Hunt a Killer over Puzzling Pursuits.
Hunt a Killer's games are based around solving a crime, often a murder or disappearance.
If you are a true crime aficionado who loves listening to a true crime podcast about murder mysteries, you'll likely greatly enjoy the storylines of Hunt a Killer's games. This is because all of their games are centered around a criminal situation, such as a cold case murder of Viola Vane in Hunt a Killer's subscription box set Curtain Call.
In the six subscription boxes that comprise Curtain Call, you must determine who killed Viola Vane, a famed actress who disappeared in 1934. Her mummified corpse was recently found, and she was brutally murdered. Through the six boxes, you'll sort through clues to slowly piece together what happened to her.
Source: Hunt a Killer's Curtain Call
Puzzling Pursuits games require helping solve a mystery but not necessarily a murder.
As a result, they are great for players that are open to venturing beyond a murder mystery storyline.
For example, La Famiglia is based in the 1920s in Chicago when Al Capone was alive. The FBI needs your knack for decrypting codes and solving puzzles in order to stop a rival gang from pulling off a big, dangerous stunt. If you enjoy solving a mystery based in the Roaring Twenties historical time period, this game should be worth a try.
Some of the materials in LA FAMIGLIA
Which do you enjoy more in mystery boxes: detective work or escape room puzzle solving?
Both Hunt a Killer and Puzzling Pursuits games require players to solve different puzzles. This may involve decoding cryptic messages, finding hidden clues, and going through newspaper clippings to solve the mystery. However, there are differences in the main types of puzzles within the games.
Hunt a Killer games have much more "detective work."
In many Hunt a Killer games, you'll be looking for who lied in their alibis and who had a motive to commit the crime. This may involve reading many pages of police reports or coroner's findings to extract a key nugget of information to solve the objective of the box.
One of the clues in Hunt a Killer's Death at the Dive Bar
As an example, Death at the Dive Bar requires you to determine who killed the owner of Old Scratch Tavern. While there are several suspects, only one had both the means and the motive to commit the crime. By shuffling through all of the materials, you'll be able to slowly whittle down the suspect list to one person, mostly through logical deduction ("detective work").
On the other hand, Puzzling Pursuits games have many more varied puzzles.
In Puzzling Pursuits games, most of what the players must solve are not deductive detective work. In many cases, there are puzzles to solve that are more akin to what you would find in an escape room than a mystery box. However, all of the puzzles are still within the storyline framework.
To give an example puzzle a try, you can look at the fun Pet Rock Puzzle we shared with our community in honor of Pet Rock Day (the first Sunday in September).
In this playful puzzle, you'll uncover how pet rocks are named
So, if you are open to solving varied puzzles more than poring over evidence, you may want to give Puzzling Pursuits games a try.
Do you prefer a mystery subscription box or a one-off box?
Some players like a monthly subscription box that allows them to have a pre-determined date or activity a month. Others prefer not to commit to a long-term subscription before absolutely knowing they'll enjoy the entire subscription line.
The core Hunt a Killer game offerings are subscription boxes.
Hunt a Killer began as a subscription box, requiring a large time and financial commitment to play through an entire mystery. They have since launched one-off boxes with self-contained storylines such as Death at the Dive Bar. However, these one-off boxes tend to be very short adventures totaling less than 1 hour of playtime.
Their core products are still their subscription boxes, which run over $100 or even $200 to get through the entire mystery subscription box line.
Puzzling Pursuits games are purchased without a subscription.
Each Puzzling Pursuits boxed game costs $34.95 plus free shipping. In addition, each game actually contains two parts to it, with each part being similar in length to one episode of Hunt a Killer. So, it only costs $104.85 ($34.95 x 3) instead of $165.00 to get the same amount of playtime.
Further, each game across two parts solves one mystery, so that end the game satisfied with its conclusion. That way, you won't constantly need to wait a month for the next box to resume the mystery, a positive over a monthly subscription.
Two parts come in one game
However, Puzzling Pursuits games have sequels so that the storyline continues, like books in a series. This provides players the best of both worlds: they can purchase a one off box that contains a new mystery each time, but they can get the depth of story that a subscription box can deliver.
Do you want scary details or a game for the whole family?
Hunt a Killer games tend to have more scary details in their evidence to solve crimes.
While both games are great for a date night in, players may have preferences on whether they want more murder mystery details in their materials. Some Hunt a Killer games may be less appropriate for younger players or those who do not like to think about murders. Hunt a Killer also has a horror storyline which again will appeal to a subset of players.
Overall, their storylines will be better suited for true crime aficionados. For those with an interest in serial killers or cold case murders, their storylines will have a strong appeal.
On the other hand, Puzzling Pursuits storylines and materials are as great for a family game night as for an adult get-together.
There is still suspense built into the game through referenced kidnappings or gang shootouts, but there are no graphic images, inappropriate language, or sexual themes. Below is a recent review of BLACKBRIM: 1876 from a player, Kevin H.
We want to thank you for such a wonderful puzzle! We played Blackbrim 1876 over two days with a family of 5, ages 10 to (well let’s just say above middle aged). We had a great time, challenging it is, but everyone got involved and help solve the puzzles. Highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a bit of adventure without traveling far! Awesome job folks, well done!
Do you want challenging mystery boxes?
Like all of the other questions, there is no right or wrong answer. Some players prefer easier, shorter games consistently. Others may want to be challenged one night but take it easier the next. Wherever you may fall on this spectrum, you'll be able to find a game for you between Hunt a Killer and Puzzling Pursuits.
The best game for you will be neither boring nor frustrating
On the whole, Hunt a Killer games are generally easier than Puzzling Pursuits games.
Hunt a Killer games do have difficulty ratings associated with them from 1-5. Using this scale, Puzzling Pursuits games are a 4-5 while most Hunt a Killer games are rated 1-3.
Having easier games has its advantages and disadvantages. If you're looking for a shorter game with fewer puzzles and steps involved, then you may want to go with a Hunt a Killer game. As an example, Curtain Call reviewers have mentioned that the objective for each box can typically be solved in less than an hour and in some cases 15 minutes (see reviews here). Compare this to a Puzzling Pursuits box which requires 2-4+ hours (and many players take much longer if they decide not to use hints).
Puzzling Pursuits games are more challenging.
Therefore, if you've found Hunt a Killer a bit too easy and are looking for a harder, longer game with better value, then you should give Puzzling Pursuits games a try.
The majority of players who love Puzzling Pursuits games tend to like challenges, which makes finishing the game much more satisfying. Playing in a group instead of solo can also be more helpful, since different people will approach puzzles differently.
Summary of Hunt a Killer versus Puzzling Pursuits
|Hunt a Killer||Puzzling Pursuits|
✓ Mostly subscription boxes
✓ No monthly box subscription but there are sequels
✓ Mostly murder mysteries
✓ Varied storylines
✓ Mostly detective work
✓ A variety of puzzles
✓ More mature content
✓ More family-friendly
✓ Tend to be easier with less playtime versus cost
✓ Tend to be more challenging with more playtime versus cost
The reality is that there are times for both types of games. Sometimes you want an adult date night that's on the easier side to solve. Death at the Dive Bar is a fantastic game that checks those boxes.
Other times, you want to dive deeply into a detective deductive phase and don't mind spending more money. Then, getting Hunt a Killer's mystery subscription boxes such as Mallory Rock will be an exciting way to spend six evenings over half a year as you figure out the murder mystery.
There will also be other evenings where you're in the mood for something different. You may want to be challenged further and solve puzzles that are more varied and difficult, while still being immersed in a mystery box game. If that's the case, you may want to play Blackbrim: 1876 or La Famiglia mystery boxes and then play their sequels afterwards.
In short, you may want to give Puzzling Pursuits games a try if:
- You are open to solving mysteries beyond murders
- You like to solve puzzles and want to try a game with a greater emphasis on puzzle-solving
- You want a game that has more gameplay relative to its cost
- You would rather purchase just one box than commit to a subscription box service
- You are up for a challenge!