We spent a fun filled few hours last weekend taking part in the Sneaky Finders ‘CluedUpp Detective’ game around Newcastle city centre, which is a virtual ‘Cluedo’ type of crime-solving adventure game that you play using an app on your phone. CluedUpp Games studio specialises in large-scale, city-wide gaming experiences and once you’ve signed up to the game (and paid – it’s £36 per team, so is pretty reasonable if you’re playing as a group), further instructions are sent to you by email the week before your game date.
The app is downloaded onto a main phone – the person nominated to be Team Leader – and here is where you set up the Team Name, download the case notes and invite other team members to take part (who can also download the app).
Start times take place within a three hour window from 10am to 1pm, so it’s pretty flexible, although all games need to be completed by 5pm at the latest.
We played as a group of friends and family, with our young teens, but there were several different groups playing on the day, some as groups of adults only and some with younger children. There is a fair bit of walking, so it may not be suitable for very young children, I think they would tire well before you have the opportunity to solve the murder! Several groups dressed up for the day, some in costume relevant to the era and some just in silly hats.
The overall theme was Sneaky Finders, a take on the Peaky Blinders franchise. It begins with watching a short video to introduce you to the poor unfortunate who has met a grisly end with an accompanying piece of background information to start you off. From there on in, you need to locate witnesses using the map and solve clues. It takes a few witness statements and using the app for a short while to get into the way the game is played, until you feel like you know what you are doing, so hang in there!
Overall, the clues make you think but aren’t impossible to solve. Using the map, you walk to the witness locations and once you have arrived the app will display a clue, which when solved will allow you to read that witness statement and ask a question. If you can’t solve it, you are allowed to continue to the statement but you receive a 5-minute time penalty.
Part way through, we started to second guess ourselves, wondering if any of the witnesses could lie about their whereabouts or about any of the other witnesses, but we were actually starting to over think it at this point. The story unfolds quite naturally and provided you follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the correct witnesses you will solve the murder. I can’t imagine not being able to solve it, it seemed quite straightforward, I think it’s more of a time issue and playing against the clock and other teams. It’s quite good fun to see other groups walking around and stopping at the same places that you are, and hear them discuss their next moves (but no eavesdropping fellow detectives!!).
It’s quite social and several groups were keen to stop and chat briefly and say how they were enjoying the game, although these were the ones, like us, who did not take our finish time too seriously and just went out to enjoy the game and wander around our beautiful city. It was a lovely way to explore but we did walk over 8 miles that day, so comfortable footwear is a must.
Once you are happy to go ahead and guess, you do all this through the app and it will advise if you solved the case or not. If you didn’t, it’s back to the drawing board with no extra clues, although you can accrue time penalties in order to go back to a witness and ask extra questions or speak to informants, all available via the app. You can accuse as many times as you wish until you get it right, unless time has run out; the game stops at 5pm. Luckily, we got it right first time, but we were nowhere near a fast time. Just as well we decided to do it for fun and not as a test of our elimination powers, Sherlock Holmes would not have been impressed!
It’s a a fun and interesting way to have some good quality family time or to just enjoy something different out with friends, so make sure you check out the CluedUpp events schedule to find out when the murder mystery game will be back, and be sure to polish up your sleuthing skills in the meantime.