Three treacherous thieves have been apprehended for thefts at the art exhibition in Cliffrock Villa, but our evidence is a mess, and we can’t quite pin the right crime to the right culprit. That’s where you come in, investigators. We need to figure out who stole what, when, and how they tried to escape so that we can put them away for good. Hurry – there’s no time to waste!

What Is It?

A competitive deduction game where players simultaneously grab investigation cards pertaining to the case they’re trying to solve (there are 9 available, determined by different colored keys). Cards may have information about the time of the crime, the criminal, the stolen item, the getaway method, or even fingerprints or items left at the scene. Each card also has a number of investigative points which will determine each player’s score at the end of the game, if they correctly solved the crime that is. The winner is not necessarily who finished first (though they do gain a small bonus), but whoever was the most efficient – ergo, has the least investigative points.

Who Is It For?

  • 1 – 4 Players (I prefer multiplayer to solo)
  • Ages 10+
  • Fans of deduction games
  • Players who don’t mind a little pressure (not super important to finish first, but you do get a rush from trying to solve it the quickest)


  • Plays quickly, makes for a good deduction filler
  • Simple set up / clean up
  • 9 scenarios in one, with minimal components
  • Each scenario is “one time,” but nothing gets destroyed so you can reply or pass them on
  • Appealing to a wide range – accessible to younger/inexperienced players, but also gives a challenge to more experienced players
  • I love that it’s more important to be efficient and correct than to be fast, but still extra satisfying if you finish first
  • Rules – Well written / good detail
  • Components – Wooden keys are neat, and the mechanic of sticking them in the solution board to see if you’re right; dry erase screens are unique; nice quality cards
  • Aesthetics – art is simple but nice, box art is enticing; clues are clear (not confusing)


  • Components – The holes in the solution board were really tight, so while punching them, a lot of the paper on the back side peeled off as the punches came out, even when we tried to be careful with them. Not a big deal, a few peeled edges around the holes, but still completely playable with no problems, just something to be aware of if you also have a tricky board
  • Each scenario has a set solution, so they’re “one time” plays in that you couldn’t play them again right after you solved them. So don’t buy this for immediate replay ability, but do hang on to it to revisit once you forget the solution, or to share with friends


Solo – You can play the game alone, just trying to solve the case in the least amount of investigative points, and then you can compare your score to a chart to see how well you did. It’s a fine option if you are looking for a solid solo logic puzzle, for sure. But personally, I prefer it as a competitive deduction experience with 1-3 others, so if you have others to try it with, go for it!

Final Thoughts

I’ve been impressed with The Key series since game 1. I really enjoyed The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land, so I was beyond excited to take a look at this one. There are a lot of different deduction games out there, but I feel like this one provides a unique and fresh experience.

I like the pressure of grabbing at the clue cards and trying to get just the ones you need before your opponents can grab them. You want to deduce as much as you can with the least information to have the best score, but you still have to make sure you’re correct or it won’t matter. I’m a big fan of those logic puzzles where you’re trying to narrow down the grid and match people to other things; I used to do them in school a lot. This game brings me back to those but elevates them into much more of a game. I’m really excited to see what else this series has in store!

Additional Information:
My Final Rating: 8/10
Designer – Thomas Sing
Artist – Timo Grubing
Publisher – HABA
MSRP – $29.99

*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*

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