Dispatch: On The Run by Breakout Games Review + Coupon – August 2017
This is a review of the first series called On The Run:
“Murder, romance, scandal—this story has it all. Once you open your delivery, you’ll find yourself entangled in the strange disappearance of your closest childhood friend, who also happens to be suspected of killing his wife, a well-known heiress. With the aid of physical clues and details embedded online, you’ll follow each thread to deduce what is fact, what is fiction—and finally the truth—in this new experience from the creators of Breakout escape rooms.”
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: Dispatch
The Cost: $24.99 per month; shipping is free.
COUPON: Use code dispatchsignup10 to save $10 off your first box!
The Products: Physical clues to help solve a mystery.
Ships to: USA
Check out all of the Geek + Nerd Subscription Box Directory for more mystery and crime-themed boxes!
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
I’ve never tried a mystery story subscription like this before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was reassured to see this welcome card that introduces the story.
Note: I will show all items in the box, but I am purposely leaving out some of the information I discovered. I don’t want to spoil the surprise completely!
The back of the card contains a checklist for all the items in the box. I didn’t tick the boxes, but everything was present.
First clues: a couple of folded magazine covers. Just the covers – I guess I never will learn those yoga tips from page 32.
So here’s the situation: Your best friend (James Smith) is suspected of strangling his wife (Victoria Van Kress) in their honeymoon suite in Maui. Since Victoria was heiress to the Van Kress family mining fortune, the story is all over the tabloids. Now James has vanished and no one has any idea where to find him.
The next item came in this lovely envelope marked ‘V + J’ for ‘Victoria + James’. (See, I figured that part out – I’m off to a good start!)
It’s the invitation to their wedding, decorated with fancy metallic leaves. The invitation includes a RSVP card with a code to access content on the wedding website.
Here we have the program from the wedding, which took place at the Royal Club in the fancy White Towers Hotel in Breakout City.
Hey, whose fingerprint is that?
The inside of the program introduces Victoria’s family and friends. Note the inclusion of ‘Lydia Van Kress, beloved cousin, wherever you are.’ It turns out that Lydia ran away from home and was never seen again, prompting Victoria to found a charity for runaways called For the Love of Lydia.
This long messy letter is the wedding toast you gave at the reception. You talked about your long friendship with James and his childhood love of Sherlock Holmes. It mentions how the two of you would use ‘those junior detective kits that they used to sell and you covered everything with that black powder looking for fingerprints.’
Here’s your journal, with a printed cover that looks like stitched leather – but what’s that sticking out of it?
And what does this symbol mean on the back? Kind of looks like a map, doesn’t it?
“Founder of For Love of Lydia charity. On the board of Copper Kress Mining. Proud member of the Van Kress family.”
If you follow the online clues, you’ll discover that there was a deadly accident at one of the copper mines. As a member of the board, what did Victoria know about it?
Another newspaper clipping, and the last communication you received from James, written on a cocktail napkin. (If I lived in Hawaii, I’d leave this at a bar somewhere just to confuse people.)
The 29-page journal goes through the history of James’s relationship with Victoria and his increasingly erratic behavior since he started working for the Van Kress family. There was something James had resolved to tell Victoria the day of the wedding, something he knew that she would not like – but what was it?
And isn’t the underlined part of the napkin’s message strange? ‘Don’t try to fine me. Calm’ – don’t try to find me calm? Is ‘calm’ some clue to his location?
The journal also contained this business card for Bailey Detective Co.
‘Please contact me if you need any help’ – well, ok. I visited the website and there was a form to fill out…
I will admit that this is entirely made up and none of these specific details were mentioned in the materials. My expectation was that I’d fill out the form and that no matter what I wrote, I’d get some kind of form letter from the detective, which might have a clue…
So imagine my surprise when I got a personal response! I think this is a great way for them to help you with the mystery without breaking the feel of the story. Also, I love that somebody’s real-life job involves working for a fictional detective agency.
Verdict: I’ve enjoyed this first box from Dispatch. I liked the combination of physical and online clues, and I look forward to getting more help from Detective Bailey. I haven’t solved the mystery yet, but I never felt confused at any point because the information all ties together and leads you along to further clues. This would be fun to solve with a friend, although the time it takes to read the long journal could put a damper on momentum if you have several people working on it at the same time. I do think it would make a fun gift for a family who enjoys murder mysteries – there weren’t any gory details, at least thus far, so I think most families with older kids would find it appropriate.
Dispatch says that each series will last less than a year. If, for example, the story lasts six months, that would cost $150 in the end. It could be a challenge for them to ensure that the mystery stays fresh and exciting over the months so that the entertainment value justifies the expense. However, they’re off to a good start and I’m curious to see how the story unfolds.
What do you think of this first installment of Dispatch? What do you think James told Victoria at the wedding?