Outside the room
I’ve mentioned in a few of my reviews that I really like games which build on local history. History Mystery is very much that sort of company, and the people behind it, while definitely escape room enthusiasts, have come at it from a heritage background. That expertise means that not only do they choose interesting stories to tell in the rooms but they’re also comfortable adding colour to those stories during the intro and debrief.
Body of Evidence is a case in point: they’ve taken a minor story from the history of the city and brought it to life. Even better, they’ve managed to procure disused jail cells in the basement of Norwich’s Guildhall, which adds a certain gravitas to proceedings (as well as some genuine prisoner graffiti…).
Ghastly discoveries on the streets of Victorian Norwich spark a murder hunt. In the historic cell block under the Guildhall, where the gruesome evidence was collected, you’re under suspicion for the crime. Can you piece together the clues to identify the body, convict the murderer and find justice for the victim? This real-life murder case lay unsolved for 18 years – you have just one hour!
Note: This game takes place in real gaol cells that held real prisoners who left behind graffiti using explicit and violent language that is not for the easily offended.
Inside the room
There’s not much you can say about the decoration in a former cell. It’s pretty drab and grey, but what else could it be? In the game, you play the part of someone who’s been falsely accused of the murder of a local woman. Building the game in a basement jail worked well: while the door isn’t ever locked, there’s something very intimidating about being inside an underground cell that adds to the experience.
During the game, they make use of video segments to build on that intimidation, with a very stern character making it clear that, if you can’t solve the case, it’s your head on the chopping block. There’s plenty of story in this game, and they do well in building that up using a combination of intro, video segments, themed clues, reading and then the final debrief. It comes at you from every side, but the bitesize pieces of information make it easy to absorb. It’s not an amazingly complicated story, and much of it is provided more as colour than to help you complete the game. That worked well for me because it meant that, if you didn’t take everything in, you wouldn’t be at a great disadvantage.
For me, the real star in this game was the evidence board. The game is centred around building up a body of evidence against the central suspect. In truth, there’s very little “real” evidence that you amass about the murder, but it’s nice that they give you a mechanism for organising the information you gather in a way that fits the theme.
The puzzles, on the other hand, were the weaker part of the game for me, with relatively little brainwork required to solve them. Generally it felt that you just needed to get the hint from the clue you’d just received and convert that into a mechanism for unlocking the next stage in the game. It felt like a very linear game, with no more than one or two puzzles available to you at any given time. Strangely, that didn’t frustrate me, possibly because the direction was sufficiently good to give you a pretty clear idea of where to go next.
While there was direction as to what you were meant to do, there rarely seemed to be a reason for it in the game world. On top of that, some of the solutions were a little repetitive for my liking. That said, there were a couple of innovative parts where we had puzzles that involved a physical interaction with the props and were allegories for real world actions.
As you move through the game, there’s a very clear view of how you’re progressing, and (I believe) they give you an audio cue if you’re running behind schedule. As the time runs down and the locks start to tumble, the pressure increases and the video segments get more intense, culminating in you finding out the identity of the true murderer.
We escaped the room in 54 minutes with the help of a couple of clues and, critically, picked up our silver hourglass pins.
Body of Evidence was a strong game which took the prison backdrop and used it to good effect to tell an engaging story. While the puzzles often descended into escape room logic, the overarching story worked well, and the use of an evidence board was a fantastic mechanism for organising the clues we found. If you’re going in expecting hard puzzles, then you’ll likely be a bit disappointed but, if you want to experience a story and can take pleasure in puzzles where the difficulty is in spotting how the game is directing you, then you’ll have a great time.
It’s quite a linear room in terms of what puzzles are solvable at any given time, but there’s enough information for you to absorb as you progress that I think you can still benefit from more people in the game and they certainly wouldn’t be bored. I’d recommend three to four enthusiasts but wouldn’t worry about a couple more beginners.
Detailed Room Ratings