A Solo Session of the Awkward Guests Murder Mystery
Learn more about a beginner session of Awkward Guests, where the typical murder mystery took a few unexpected twists.
I played Awkward Guests a few times when it first arrived. To give myself a boost of confidence, I started off at the easiest difficulty level. That seemed like a good idea. Only I got the solution comically wrong time and time again. The third time was not the charm. Ha! So after putting my detective hat on the shelf for several months, I was back at it.
Technically the case number is visible in one of the app screenshots, and the solution is explained in partial detail. However, there are hundreds or even thousands of possible clue combinations. The following details should not spoil the game in general, but only this particular case number. There are many others, though, so read on with no worries!
Right off the bat, I should mention that I’m not a fan of apps. I prefer to take a break from the digital realm at my game table. Solo board games give me a chance to relax.
So I was highly skeptical of this app when it was revealed. I decided to take the chance, though!
September 22, 2019
March 9, 2020
26" x 12"
A Not-So-Awkward Box
There are some board games whose boxes can be used to hold components. In this instance, the game is literally played out of the box! Every set of cards has its own place.
The play area is also very reasonable. Since the box is actually used, the total area is less than usual. Very nice!
A stack of paper tracking sheets is included, yet I got out my trusty wet-erase marker. Nothing like a reusable sheet protector to be a little more environmentally friendly!
This is about it in terms of the play area. A lot of the other components don’t even enter into the solo experience.
Looking at the Details
The game features the typical mystery elements:
- Who did it?
- Why did he, she, or they do it?
- How did it happen?
However, there is much more! The tracking sheet includes multiple types of weapons, individual motives with unique evidence sources, and a fairly intricate map.
Suspects can travel through rooms via the arrows. A path must be traced all the way to the study. Yet it’s even more in-depth than this little description can provide.
Mapping Out the Mansion
This layout might seem vaguely familiar with the numerous rooms. However, there are some important differences. Each room features arrows indicating routes in and out. The murderer must be able to trace a path through the rooms to the scene of the crime… In the study, of course! These paths are vital and can be tricky to deduce.
Every room also has a number of guests, as reported by the staff. Because the guests are horrible people, this is balanced out by a completely honest staff. They provide information about who was present in certain rooms during the murder, plus details about the movements between rooms. A reliable source is always useful when detecting!
Finally, each room features an assortment of unique weapons. The murderer will always use one of the available weapons along the route to the study. This is why it’s so important to understand the different paths.
For example, perhaps the staff tell me that no one moved between the Library and the Living Room, nor the Library and Shed. This means that the curtain cord can be ruled out as the weapon because there was no way anyone entered or exited the room. Weapons can also be ruled out in other ways, yet this map is vital to figuring out the solution.
Starting Out in the App
There are multiple difficulty levels to choose from. At one point, a possible accomplice enters the picture! I decided to keep things simple and stick with the beginner level.
Each case begins by listing the starting cards. These are then pulled directly from the physical game box.
There might have been the possibility to have every card in the app, but where’s the fun in that?!
Examining the Clues
I began with this set of interesting cards. There were details about motives, weapons, and suspect locations. Not a bad way to begin an investigation!
To increase my chances of solving the case, I pulled out a few of the detective tokens. Poirot smiled confidently. But was that Columbo or Sam Diamond also looking on?
Previously, I put the “amateur” in amateur detective. Actually, I think I might have given detectives a bad reputation in general! So I focused. I would solve this!
The clues truly are more intricate than they might appear.
The Joy of Victory
I love apps that have no sounds, but this is a rare exception. It’s silent up until the moment when the final solution is entered in. Then, a moment of anticipation…
Time and time again, I heard the hilarious sound of defeat.
I braced myself, hopeful to encounter something different. And that I did! The sound of victory greeted me in the form of a rousing round of applause. Success!
Reexamining the Case
I was rather proud of my deductive skills this time. I didn’t go after the most expensive clues every round because I realized how useful 1-point and 2-point cards could be!
Weapon information popped up early on, so I started to whittle down the potential rooms right away. The tricky parts were the suspect and motive.
One interesting but difficult element is the evidence for every motive. Sometimes a motive can appear to be confirmed, but it isn’t actually the murder motive.
I still struggled… Amateur detective here, remember? Ha!
Following the Evidence
One subtle nuance involves repeated attempts to look at a single aspect. Every round, the app allows a pair of elements to be investigated. This could involve 1 room and 1 suspect, 2 rooms, or 2 suspects.
The secret is to know when not to over examine. One complaint I’ve read involves the repeated appearance of a single card. When this happens, it effectively means that some points were wasted. However, it makes sense! This acts as a penalty mechanism. If I already know all there is to know about Stanley Smithe, I’m a worse detective than I thought.
There were a few elements that guided my investigation:
- Limited Weapons: I quickly determined that the weapon was either the machete or saber.
- Blocked Paths: There was no way the murderer traveled between the Living Room and Vestibule.
- Minimal Motives: All sorts of general motives were rules out by the police, allowing me to narrow my focus.
- Trustworthy Staff: The wonderful housekeeper contradicted the Berwick Sisters’ account of their location.
From this information, I knew the Berwick Sisters’ path went through the Vestibule, Trophy Room, Garage, and Study. The police already eliminated 2 of their 3 motives, so I had them! It was just the weapon, and I spent another round looking for clues. It was right there, though, and I managed to solve it all with a flourish! Or possibly just normally.
Another thing that tipped me off was when I started picking up clues from the Berwick Sisters. What did they have to say? They had all the evidence that pointed to anyone else. Classic defensive murderer move. I don’t know if this is actually a mechanic built into the game, but it was funny and thematic, all the same. What a terrible, sisterly duo.
Play Number: 4
Solo Mode: Included with an App
Play Details: Beginner Difficulty Level
Required Play Space: 26″ x 12″
Setup Time: 5 Minutes
Play Time: 25 Minutes
I received a very positive expression from one of my detective tokens. I did it! After struggling for ages, I finally cracked the case. This was a very rewarding experience, particularly since I knew what I was doing from the start.
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
Solve the Case
- Overall Goal Progress 50% 50%
Goals and Milestones
Win at least 1 game at the beginner difficulty level.
Win at least 1 game at the very easy difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
What do you think of Awkward Guests? How are your deductive reasoning skills? I don’t know why I was stuck at the beginner difficulty level for a long time. You likely have a much better winning percentage! I have much more to explore, and I look forward to getting better and better. My little grey cells appear to be working. Thanks, Poirot! Ha!