Choose Your Own Deadventure Review

I like Play Dead London. I’ve taken part in, and reviewed, loads of their online murder mysteries. They’re always really entertaining, and the cast are fantastic. The mysteries over the last year or so have generally followed the same structure of learn the story, interrogate suspects in groups, get clues, become Holmes and solve the murder (or not, as is often the case for me). Their latest show – Choose Your Own Deadventure – The Case of the Clown in the Woods (to give it its full title) – has them pushing things on a bit further again.

Watch this, and get excited.

Why did the scarecrow win an award?

Because he was out-standing in his field.

This comedy segue is just to highlight the biggest major change to proceedings – some of the cast are out in the field. Literally, there’s a bunch of actors running around in a field somewhere, joining in the fun and games by mobile phone camera. With the help of the evergreen Detective Slaughter at HQ, and Constable Butcher at the scene of the crime, you and the other Zoom detectives are trying to figure out why there’s a dead clown in a clearing, and most importantly – whodunnit?!

mystery in progress
Poor old Constable Butcher got drenched. I’m assured they had the British cure-all of tea and biscuits afterwards – phew!

This is where the ‘Choose Your Own’ bit of the show name comes into play. If you’re of a certain age and from the UK, you might remember the (in-desperate-need-of-reviving) TV show, Treasure Hunt. A team in the studio told Annika Rice to get in a helicopter and fly to places to solve clues. Now you get a chance to do the same, sans helicopter. At certain points a poll appears in the screen, and collectively you vote to decide where Butcher heads next, and what he investigates. It’s awesome, it really gives you a feel of agency, of flexing your little grey cells to steer the investigation.

Like a puppet on a string

This new format is great. Watching the cast have to truly adlib and brave the hideous weather was both testament to their ability to stay in character, and mildly hilarious. While I never believed there was a dead clown in a public space, there’s just something immersive about seeing someone over the shoulder of the constable and telling them to go and talk to them, or taking a first-person view of a chase.

Technology was the biggest problem, with the quality of the video and audio left to the mercy of the mobile networks, but even that added to the authenticity. As soon as the show was over I found myself thinking ‘I wish I know what would have happened if we’d investigated X instead of Y’. Whatever you do though, these clever Play Dead London folks will make sure you know enough to be able to solve the case with the clues and nuggets of evidence that come your way.

Excellence in cartography – this map is pivotal to the investigation. No, really.

Choose Your Own Deadventure is excellent. I’ve enjoyed all of the Play Dead London shows, but this one was my favourite. The chatter in the communal chat channel was new and really funny, watching Butcher running around in the rain was great, and the mystery itself was clever. Once again I headed to the vote with three suspects I was sure could have done it. Go with your gut, guys, is the only advice I can give without spoiling things.

If you like murder mysteries, I urge you to try Choose Your Own Deadventure. You’ll laugh, you’ll commiserate if the weather is bad, and you’ll not have taken part in anything else quite like it. Play Dead London are one of the masters of the Zoom murder mystery, and this latest mystery just serves to cement them in place.

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