For more information about Horses for Corpses, see the accompanying news article.
A prominent member of the horseracing industry is dead. The circumstances, detectives say, are suspicious. They need some help – that’s where we come in. A Door In A Wall presents their latest murder mystery treasure hunt game, Horses for Corpses, where, as teams, we try and solve the whodunnit mystery of bumping off Dylan O’Dill, a shady horse dealer with a number of enemies in a corrupt world of drugs, falsified evidence and assassins. That’s the down and dirty business of horseracing for you.
This particular adventure takes place around Camden Markets, a hotbed of cultural activity. Our efforts are focussed on the Stables market, an apt place for an equine related mystery adventure. The beauty of the game is that it uncovers hidden treasures for newcomers and residents of Camden alike. As someone who used to live a stone’s throw from the markets, it was a joy to return and remember the delights of arguably the most unique and greatest markets in London. The remainder of my team were newcomers to the scene – A Door In A Wall cleverly highlights the best of the area for these individuals too; they are officially hooked and planning a trip back to explore further. Mission accomplished.
As for the game itself, without giving too much away, the treasure hunt is a clever combination of logic puzzles, clues and roleplay activities to keep a team entertained for over three hours. Numerous different paths all must be explored but can be done in any order, which reduces the risk of queueing behind other teams to try and get to the clues – this hunt is particularly well paced, laid out and judged to minimise interaction with other teams and spoil the surprises in store.
As a reviewer, I am conscious to try and make notes along the way and critically examine all aspects of the game, but ultimately find myself swept up in the action and my own sense of competitive spirit, a determination to solve the mystery before time runs out and we are left in the dark. There is nothing quite like a countdown to focus the mind and pile on the pressure; this is an activity that those with a fear of failure or the dreaded FOMO will find fantastically frustrating.
As a new adventure, still in its early days, there are hiccoughs and minor errors in the conception. No amount of preparation can overcome human intervention if clues are moved, lost or not properly returned and there are a couple of instances in which access to clues was blocked, or flyers needed to progress were missing. But a quick call to HQ efficiently sorts out the issue while retaining the overall show theme and style. There are an equal number of cheesy puns that cheapen the overall event, but in order to fully enjoy this kind of activity an audience must fully immerse themselves and suspend disbelief – I still maintain that this can be done without an attempt to throw in horse-related jokes at any opportunity.
The ultimate test of this sort of game is the extent to which it is talked about afterwards. Over discount pizza (thanks to A Door In A Wall), our team cannot stop debating where we went wrong, what clues we missed and why our conclusion wasn’t quite perfect. The fear of missing out is realised; we must have overlooked some tiny detail. Equally though, the final reveal is open to discussion – as we plead our case with the lead detective as to who the culprit is, there is an element of interpretation in the evidence gathered. For those that like a cut and dry ending, this will be annoying; for those that prefer the clues more realistically open to interpretation, there is a chance to test out debating skills against other teams with alternative viewpoints.
Horses for Courses is not the first in this style of game that A Door In A Wall have conceived; their attention to detail and experience in this field is obvious. Is it worth the money? Questionable. But three hours fly by, so it definitely keeps a group engaged for an evening – so hats off to the company for their efforts. The ultimate question of course is whodunnit? Why, the butler of course! (Spoiler alert – there is no butler).
Horses for Corpses plays the Camden Markets until 18 June. For more information or to book tickets, please see the website.