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Hunt A Killer Empty Faces The Mine Main

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Hunt A Killer: Empty Faces: The Mine Game Review

Written by Kat Albrecht/p>

Released by Hunt A Killer

I always thought Hunt A Killer wasn’t for me since I’m more of a paranormal investigation fan than a traditional sleuth. Admittedly, most of my Hunt A Killer knowledge came from YouTube video sponsorships rather than actually seeing for myself. So, when I recently found out that Hunt A Killer has a series of paranormal-themed cases, I had to check it out.

I chose Empty Faces: The Mine because the premise sounded cool – spooky occurrences at a history museum related to a past tragedy and an impending supernatural disaster. It was only as I was preparing to actually play that I noticed it has a five-diamond difficulty level. The perfect starter kit.

The website will inform you about some key features of your chosen case. Empty Faces: The Mine listed five such features:

  • Back Track: Requires referencing evidence found in earlier episodes.
  • Eye for Detail: Especially close reading of the evidence.
  • Red Herrings: Information meant to muddy the case.
  • Challenging Ciphers: At least one challenging code or cipher.
  • Self-Guided: Explore the story without being directed.

I found all of these things to be overwhelmingly true, but more on that later.

I received Empty Faces: The Mine as a boxed set, containing all five episodes. Ever the intrepid detective, I decided to complete them all in one sitting. I opted to play this game with a friend, partially for clue-spotting reasons but also because I wanted to see how amenable the game would be to multiple players.

Upon unboxing the set, there was a moment of ‘now what?’ as all five ‘episode’ boxes came stacked together and unlabeled. Using our powers of deduction and combined eight college degrees, we decided to open them in the order they were packed and hope for the best. Happily, opening the boxes in the wrong order doesn’t spoil anything since the case materials all come concealed in a labeled envelope.

The premise of Empty Faces: The Mine is you are part of a volunteer program as a shield for gathering information about some potential paranormal happenings. This means you’ll have tasks/documents directly related to the other-worldly situation, but also objectives related to the curator program that unlock information.

By far the coolest thing about the game is the lore and associated props. There are a lot of fun materials here, giving you the opportunity to interact with physical documents and work with well-developed digital materials. They spend a considerable amount of effort and time on the world creation and actual items, which really gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the story. The props feel high quality and are deliberate in their design. You also get some fun merch, which can serve as a secret signal that you play Hunt A Killer (or just as a good tote bag to take your lunch in).

We did not encounter a lot of problems with materials, only having one item that seemed slightly defective. This defect didn’t ruin anything, but the code that was supposed to be ‘hidden’ was just printed on the back of the paper such that we didn’t realize for a while that it was supposed to be hard to find.

This game has a lot of reading. This is a good time for a confession: I am a college professor, but I don’t particularly like reading. Playing with a friend solved this problem, as we enthusiastically took on the task of dramatically reading various memos and journal entries out loud to each other. The speed at which you read will definitely determine the playtime in each box, so I recommend folks not in a hurry take their time enjoying the lore.

Empty Faces: The Mine is, as it claims, very self-directed. We found this to be a little bit challenging at times because we didn’t know if we had done everything we were supposed to do in a given episode. Since the game includes backtracks across episodes, some things did not have any obvious utility until much later. This sometimes made us a little impatient or confused. Luckily, the game comes with a code to a hints website that will help you confirm you’ve covered the essentials in each episode. We definitely needed it to verify that we had in fact, ‘done the thing.’

The box is also fairly cipher-heavy, so if you’re not a fan of those types of puzzles, I’d make a different choice from the Hunt A Killer catalogue. Figuring out the ciphers was fun and satisfying, but we got a little frustrated with how long it took to physically translate many, many messages that were more spooky than substantive.

Puzzles range in difficulty, with the final one being excellent and challenging. Sometimes we were uncertain about what things we should research online vs. relying on the provided materials, but we got the hang of it by about the second episode. There are some objectives in the game that are, to put it bluntly, trivia homework. I let out an audible groan when one task was to read an academic article and answer some questions, but maybe that’s just a little too close to what I do at work.

We managed to complete most of the story in one eight-hour session, though an interesting feature of this particular game is that your experience can be enriched by going down more rabbit holes and really investigating details. The self-directed nature of the game might make it challenging to play an episode here or there over a period of time since you’d have to remember essentially everything you did before. My recommendation would be to take notes, write your cipher solutions neatly, and use a pencil. Did we do any of those things? No.

Players interested in a self-led journey, who particularly enjoy ciphers and don’t mind multiple-choice quizzes, will have a good time with this case. Playing with a friend definitely helped the ‘search the text’ type tasks go a lot faster, which is good or bad depending on how you want to play. The lore and game materials alone make this well worth checking out. One caveat is I don’t know how accessible this case would be for potential players who require accommodations for visual or audio materials. In particular, the design of some documents is intentionally slightly difficult to read. I would recommend that anyone concerned about accessibility issues reach out to Hunt A Killer before purchasing this.

Overall, Empty Faces: The Mine is a really inventive and creative way to spend an evening (even though they made us do homework). I’m definitely looking forward to checking out other cases in the series and seeing how different types of difficulty and structure compare to each other.

Grades:

Overall: 4 Star Rating Cover
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