Hunt A Killer Death at the Dive Bar Review (True Crime at Home)
If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know I love a good dive bar. There’s nothing quite like wandering in, picking a spot at the bar, and taking in the ambiance of a place with no frills and no expectations. But can you imagine your favorite dive bar as the scene of a crime?
That’s the premise of the Hunt A Killer Death at the Dive Bar case. It’s not quite a board game but is meant to be played at home on your own or with a group.
I recently purchased Death at the Dive Bar after seeing it at my local Target store. I had already tried a few of Hunt A Killer’s subscription boxes – Moon Summit and Curtain Call – and was (im)patiently waiting for the start of my next subscription, Mallory Rock.
In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know about Death at the Dive Bar in order to decide if it’s right for you. There are no spoilers here, but by the end, you’ll know whether or not this game will be fun – and how likely you are to get hooked on the Hunt A Killer cases. Read on for my Hunt A Killer Death at the Dive Bar review
The Basics of Hunt A Killer Boxes
If you’re not familiar, I want to start with an introduction to how Hunt A Killer works. In short, the two most common ways to receive a Hunt A Killer case are:
- Box Sets – You get all six case files in the case at once.
- Subscription – You get one case file at a time for roughly six months.
However, there’s a third type, which HAK has been expanding: Retail Boxes. These are boxes you can buy from third-party retailers, and Death at the Dive Bar is their first and most popular retail box.
Retail boxes work a little bit differently than box sets and subscriptions. Here’s what you get in this one:
- A letter from the head investigator, Michelle Gray, who’s subcontracting this work to you.
- A letter from the client, which changes from case to case. In Death at the Dive Bar, that’s Carmen Lopez, an employee and friend of the deceased.
- Paper files and documents.
- Other physical evidence.
- An envelope that reads “Solution” and includes the final solution for the case.
Death at the Dive Bar doesn’t include an inventory like some other HAK cases, so I’ve included lists below of what evidence you get in the box. Before you start each case file, it’s super important: always check off each item to ensure you’ve received all of the documents and evidence you need.
Okay, now that you’re oriented, let’s get into my specific review of the Death at the Dive Bar case from Hunt A Killer.
A murder at the local dive bar. A mysterious, masked figure. A small town full of suspects. When owner Nick Webster falls from a cliff behind his roadside tavern, his death is ruled an accident, but one of his employees suspects foul play and she needs your help to prove it.
So reads the description of Death at the Dive Bar on the Hunt A Killer website. In short, your objective with this case is to identify the killer, choosing among a shortlist of four persons of interest identified by the client. All of the information you need is provided in the case – it’s your job to sift through it and come up with a single name for the person who had means, motive, and opportunity. (Just like a real case!)
Interested? Read on to learn more about what’s included in Death at the Dive Bar and my final review of the box.
Files & Documents
Death at the Dive Bar is a document-rich case – there are a lot of paper documents in the box, and you need basically all of them to sort out the truth of who killed Nick Webster.
Unlike other HAK boxes, there’s no inventory in this box, so here are the documents you receive in Death at the Dive Bar:
- Three photographs
- A newspaper clipping
- Two pages of notes from Nick
- A page of notes from the town deputy
- An empty but addressed envelope
- A menu for Old Scratch Tavern
- A printed screenshot from surveillance cameras
- A stapled set of dossiers on the four main people of interest
- Two pages of posts from a community forum
- A citation for a car violation
- A poster for a local community event
- A photocopy of a note written in ransom-letters
- Several pages of boot photos and imprints
(You can use this list to double-check your own box once you buy it, but I’ve never heard of anyone missing documents in Death at the Dive Bar, unlike other HAK boxes which occasionally do have missing items.)
Death at the Dive Bar isn’t one of Hunt A Killer’s normal premium boxes; it was the first one sold directly in Target and doesn’t fit into the rest of the HAK universe. As such, it’s a little different – one such way is with regard to digital evidence.
There actually isn’t any digital evidence for Death at the Diver Bar. In some ways, that makes the case easier, since you only have to look at the evidence provided in the box.
Unlike some other HAK cases (*cough cough* Moon Summit), Death at the Dive Bar doesn’t have a ton of physical evidence – the three items shown are the only pieces of physical evidence in the box:
- A matchbox from Old Scratch Tavern
- A double-ended bottle opener
- A black fabric security envelope
As with all Hunt A Killer cases, be sure to review the physical evidence as closely as you do the documents – and from every angle. Every piece of physical evidence all relevant for solving the case, so you’ll need to keep it all within reach while working to solve the murder.
Ciphers & Codes
The ciphers and codes are my favorite part of Hunt A Killer cases!
Though Death at the Dive Bar is marked as “Easy” on the box, I think it has pretty solid ciphers and codes that will challenge most people. Like in all HAK boxes, you need to pay attention to every detail if you want to crack the codes and ciphers. And sometimes, you’ll need to put together pieces of evidence to come up with the keyword or code to crack them.
Death at the Dive Bar is marked as 14+ and I think that’s a good age for both the material of the case and the ability to solve the ciphers.
Hunt A Killer Death at the Dive Bar Review: Overall Thoughts
I’ll be honest: Death at the Dive Bar wasn’t my favorite Hunt A Killer box so far – and that’s in part because I got it “wrong.” (What I mean is that I identified the wrong suspect.) I thought the evidence was a bit shaky on its own for the final conclusion – but maybe I just spend too much time listening to true crime podcasts and can’t handle shaky evidence. 😂
The only other negative thing about my experience with Death at the Dive Bar is that my sealed security envelope (the black fabric envelope) actually arrived A) unlocked – which I fixed by locking it myself – and B) with the correct combination already set – which I found out after solving that part of the case. That attention to detail can be a real bummer for a truly dedicated person who wants it to be perfect.
Besides that, Death at the Dive Bar is great for a number of reasons:
- It introduces you to the Hunt A Killer concept, and allows you to work a case from a single box. (Rather than a the subscription, which I also love and you can read reviews of for Moon Summit!)
- It’s reasonably priced – which makes it even better as an introduction to HAK.
- Death at the Dive Bar is available to purchase at Target (so you can go buy it today), or on Amazon and the Hunt A Killer site if you’re willing to wait for it to ship.
So are you ready to try and solve this case?
You can buy Death at the Dive Bar from Target, Amazon, or Hunt A Killer:
If you love this case and want even more, you can also save 10% off your Hunt A Killer Subscription by using TRUECRIMEPODS at checkout!
Have any other questions about Death at the Dive Bar? Let me know in the comments!
Mary Anne McCartney
Is this a game that is played only once and once you know the solution you can’t play it again?
You are correct, Mary Anne! Thanks for checking (and reading my review!).
Without getting into spoilers, I’m interested in what you thought about the picture crime scene evidence. When we did it, the evidence clearly established motive and we know certain people were involved. The thing that bugged me was that the boot print at the crime scene clearly mapped back to one person, but while that person was involved, they were exonerated by the solution. One person in our group thought that the boots may have been shared, but that seems less likely to me, if you’ve ever tried to hike in boots that are 4 sizes too big.
Great question, Tom. With no spoilers, I agree that the crime scene photos were not as helpful… I actually got it “wrong” because of them, and was really confused why I couldn’t figure out the solution… Anyway, agreed that they could be clearer to help people not have multiple suspects or the wrong suspect at the end.
How do you suggest playing the game with a group of people (we will have 7 people). In 2 teams? 3teams? In order to have a great game experience can you suggest any specific ways to split up the evidence or rounds of play to enable the game to be played over several courses of a meal?
I feel as though it’s straight forward with 2 people…..but not with a group of people. Unless this group is supposed to all work together?
Great questions, Char. Honestly, I agree – it’s hard(er) to play with a group. I did it with my family (5 of us), and what we did was split up the evidence, everyone would read/review what they had, then share their findings – then people could swap evidence if they wanted to review it themselves. One person (me) was the designated team lead and I helped move us through the puzzles/clues as they came up. I hope that helps!