Awkward Guests and an Awkward Solo Deduction Experience
Gather clues and piece together the murder of Mr. Walton to find the suspect, weapon, and motive in Awkward Guests.
Solo deduction games aren’t too common, so I’ve always had a soft spot for Awkward Guests. However, the required use of an app has made me steer clear for years… Time to take on the role of an amateur detective! I was curious to see how this one has aged while in my collection for a long time, particularly since it wasn’t originally designed for solo.
Game Name: Awkward Guests
Publication Year: 2016
Designer: Ron Gonzalo García
Artists: Samuel Gonzalo García & Laura Medina Solera
Publisher: Megacorpin Games
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game (App Required)
Through deductive reasoning, clues provide the basis to reach the correct solution. Although the case is always the same, there are various difficulty levels and all sorts of possibilities. Pointing the finger is easy… Getting the right combination of the suspect, weapon, and motive is not!
September 22, 2019
October 29, 2023
28" x 16"
Tracking All the Clues
A big piece of this puzzle is the layout of the mansion, which actually helps track suspects. Servants provide reliable information about where everyone was…
But those same guests can’t always be trusted! One of them is the murderer whose path can be traced from their location to the study, where Mr. Walton was murdered.
The weapon might come from any of the rooms along the way, and finding the right motive is quite the challenge.
I love picking up the cards and marking the sheet, yet I will say that the app isn’t as great as I remembered.
Finding My Own Clues
Clues come in different values, and the solo mode is about starting with a set number of points to spend. Not the greatest, yet certainly serviceable and a bit enjoyable.
In the multiplayer game, a lot of focus is on controlling the information handed to the other players. Duplicate clues get passed, adding to the competitive atmosphere.
For the solo mode, the same clue cards will be listed, but it’s quite annoying to search for them with new clues.
I was most distressed when I had all of the sound settings off and my volume muted… Still got app sounds. Yikes!
The Right Solution
I managed to piece together this mystery and discovered that Mortimer was the culprit! The experience was fun, but I was also reminded of the questionable artwork.
There is one character, Claudette Cazelar, who seems to be depicted rather poorly. Maybe I’m just not understanding the direction, yet it seems like a problematic caricature.
Note, too, that there is a prominent autopsy diagram on a lot of clue cards that includes full nudity out of nowhere.
Still, I could see some of the fun with this system and decided to play a few more times to explore the variety.
Perhaps one of the most innovative elements of this system is the fact that guests have starting locations and may move along specific paths to reach the crime scene.
As I mentioned, servants provide reliable information that can be compared to the guests, hopefully to find the liar!
However, I ran into situations where I had part of the solution, yet didn’t get enough information by the end.
Weapons and motives required me to guess with a 50 / 50 chance of getting it right. I was wrong each time, purely down to not getting lucky with the clue cards. Frustrating.
Defining Luck vs. Deduction in a Solo Game
Although I’m not opposed to a bit of luck when it comes to gathering clues, there is a sort of secondary piece of work at play here. For the combinations of rooms and suspects being searched, it comes down to making sure there isn’t too much overlap. Yet when I’ve narrowed down the clues to the most prominent rooms and suspects… I want those clues!
I was frustrated that the app didn’t do more to support the solo mode. There was no point in making me look for the same clue card I already had in front of me. It didn’t seem ridiculous to keep track of that somehow and only show the new clue cards. To expect me to keep track of what I already searched was also a lot more than I bargained for.
Additionally, I later learned that the easy difficulty level is actually the hardest one! The points available to spend are about half of those available at the medium difficulty level. The difference is the introduction of an accomplice, but the severe lack of clue cards definitely hampered me. It came down to a pure guess at the end, and I was so close! Too bad.
Play Number: 6-8
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game (App Required)
Play Details: Very Easy & Easy Difficulty Levels
Outcome: 1 Win & 2 Losses
It was neat to piece together everything, but the fun sort of fell apart when it just came down to not getting the right clue cards. Not being able to specify the type of information I needed was kind of frustrating, as was looking for clue cards I already had in front of me. There is an interesting deduction game here, yet I’m ready to say the case is closed on this solo mode… Moving on!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Adjusting the difficulty level is very easy during the start, and can introduce a challenging accomplice element.
- Tracking movement and paths through rooms with certain weapons adds to the layers behind solving the case.
- Points may be spent in different ways to get a variety of clues, and even the low-value cards can be very helpful.
- Most of the clue cards include a helpful visual reminder about how to mark up the solution sheet correctly.
- Although the color scheme is very muted, it’s rather unique and helps set the stage for a vintage murder mystery.
- Narrowing down the suspects is an interesting puzzle where everyone is often suspicious up until the end.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Every play is very similar with the same murder case and just a difference in the correct solution, with no variety.
- Some of the artwork is a bit unsettling and seems to make caricatures of the characters in disrespectful ways.
- The app doesn’t keep track of the clue cards that have been seen, and can make sounds even when muted.
- A lot of the solo mode involves getting lucky with the right clue cards, rather than being an excellent detective.
Solve the Case
- Overall Goal Progress 67% 67%
Goals and Milestones
Win at least 1 game at the beginner difficulty level.
Win at least 1 game at the very easy difficulty level.
Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Awkward Guests solo? Was there a particularly interesting solution you reached at some point? I can see this one working better with a larger group, where controlling the information flow is part of the fun. Alas, I think I’ve solved this case enough! Almost feels like Murder on the Orient Express, if you’re familiar with that solution… Ha ha!