Death by Chef’s Knife from University Games is a Murder Mystery Party Case Files game that gives players the chance to dig into a fictional murder to uncover the answer others have overlooked. The game box, shaped like an accordion file, signals the aesthetic that continues with a case file folder packed with documents. The cover letter explains to the “rookie” that all of the suspects are in the file. The department just needs the players to deduce who had the motive, means, and opportunity to perform the crime.
A Chilling Murder
The case file in Death by Chef’s Knife is packed with information, much of it useful, some of it red herrings. Much of the evidence consists of police reports and witness statements, giving a portrait of the crime from the perspectives of the people involved. From the medical examiner’s report, Chef Lorenzo Ritelli, a tough character who makes Enzo’s a well-reviewed restaurant even if it is a hard place to work, is discovered in the produce refrigerator with a deep stab-wound to the chest. Further evidence such as a heavily marked menu, a postcard, a lost cat poster, and more paint a complex picture of the murder.
Players in Death by Chef’s Knife must carefully read – and read between the lines of – each document. Plenty of characters may have a motive, but only one had the proper means and opportunity for the stabbing. Could it be the murder-mystery-loving fermentation specialist who knows all about how to pull off a murder? Or could it be Lorenzo’s weary executive chef, finally having enough of Lorenzo’s bullying? Or could it be a crime of passion by a spurned food critic? What could Lorenzo’s hastily modified will have to do with it? It’s up to the players to decide.
If would-be detectives are stumped, the University Games website offers hints about different suspects. Different folders point out details that may have been missed, or dry up false leads. Once players have determined motive, means, and opportunity, they can check another link on the website for a list of the suspects. Name the accusation and click the proper folder, and the verdict shows guilty! Guess wrong, and the players will have to review their notes to make another charge.
Death by Chef’s Knife is a mystery game for players aged 14 and older. It works well as both a single-player game for those who want to do some sleuthing on their own and a game for a group wanting to work as a team. Both ways make for a great time, whether reading quietly and taking notes on your own or working with several people to compare thoughts and debate. The cover letter even recommends having detectives with different theories write their own solutions to the murder on pieces of paper before checking. The winner should “celebrate with a meal at a nearby fine restaurant.”