Blood has been spilled across the streets of London, ‘The Eastside Strangler’ has yet to be caught, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. You must follow in the footsteps of the previous detective on the case and finally get some justice.
Find out his identity and location before he strikes again! The power is in your hands, detectives.
Ah, another game from The Panic Room’s Online collection. The Panic Room have developed a series of CSI games, and having already played CSI: Grounded and CSI: Mafia Murders, we had a pretty good idea of what we could expect from CSI: Stranglehold.
This time, as we pressed play on our briefing video, we learn that the previous detective on the case of The Eastside Strangler has died, and it’s up to us to make sense of the evidence he’s collected to identify the killer before he takes another victim. With our mission established, we entered the detective’s office to begin our manhunt.
Stranglehold is entirely browser-based and self-contained to the website that the game is built on, which means you won’t be hunting through Twitter posts to try to identify the Eastside Strangler. The game utilises the same simple setup we’ve come to expect from the digital Panic Room games, with a central hub, in this case, the Detective’s Office, that then allows you to unlock the evidence in a linear manner. However, where Stranglehold differed from its CSI predecessors was with the introduction of puzzles that made use of information found throughout the entire game, not just the information on the page in front of you for each piece of evidence you were to unlock. Where Stranglehold didn’t differ was with everything else. Like the other games from The Panic Room Online, this game allows multiple users to log into the platform (up to six), making it a decent option for teams playing across multiple households. CSI: Stranglehold also gives players an optional in-game soundtrack for added immersion, but if you want a timer, you’ll need to set one yourself.
Due to the limitations of the platform the game is built on, the password entry field is obscured, which is my biggest pet peeve with this new online style of escape games, as it makes it impossible to know if you’ve not progressed due to a typo, or a completely incorrect answer. But, fortunately, there were no ridiculously long passwords (unlike another Panic Room offering, My Dearest Emily), so typos were relatively easy to avoid.
Mechanics of how the game works aside, Stranglehold did present a stronger story than many similarly structured online games we’ve come across, with plenty of interviews with witnesses, plus some breaking news stories, in addition to the intro and conclusion videos, and presented puzzles that were generally quite thematic.
As you probably have guessed from the CSI title, Stranglehold has a strong detective theme, which unsurprisingly gives the end result of making this game one large whodunnit. I have come to expect that with any whodunnit, the vast majority of puzzles will rely heavily on observation, using deductive reasoning to either eliminate a suspect or identify the culprit, and Stranglehold was no exception.
The former detective’s notebook is essential throughout the game, and because of this, at first, it felt as though we were presented with an abundance of information, with no idea what would be useful or how to proceed. After a little while staring at the information, a lightbulb turned on and we were off. The majority of the puzzles throughout referred back to the detective’s notebook, and so it was just a matter of ensuring you were paying attention, and then figuring out what to do with it.
While the evidence we needed was generally staring us in the face, that wasn’t the entirety of the game, and there were a few surprises along the way, but for the most part, the puzzles presented were quite fair. There was one puzzle we found that the information presented could be interpreted in a different way, and becoming slightly frustrating. But minor frustrations aside, Stranglehold made use of a few clever tactics that provided a few nice “Ah-Ha!” moments for us once we put two and two together.
Like all of the previous digital games we’ve played from The Panic Room (and indeed, like many of the games we’ve played from any company), clues for Stranglehold are available for each puzzle on the page, and able to be revealed with the click of a button, culminating in the solution if you’re really stuck. I’ve yet to come across a better system for clue delivery for a game with Stranglehold’s design, and while it’s not particularly exciting, it is effective.
CSI: Stranglehold was the strongest of the games in the CSI series from The Panic Room (that we’ve played), and was reminiscent of a detective/murder mystery live escape game, making me strangely nostalgic for one.
- Device with internet connection (desktop/laptop running Chrome, Firefox or Edge provides best experience)
Pen and paper for note taking (optional)
- Final Rating:
Value for Money
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 41 mins, no clues
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.