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Stab in the Dark: An Interactive Murder Mystery - mystery and suspense DVD / DVD party game review
Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Jim Leach, Connor Smith, Ken Smith, Tina Zoganas
Director: David Landau   Studio: Lifesize Entertainment
DVD release: 09 December 2008   Runtime: 68 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0)

Stab in the Dark is, at it says on its cover, "an interactive murder mystery party game." While designed to be a party game (and it probably would work better with a group than with one player), I played it alone for review purposes yet still quite enjoyed it.

The plot: a reporter, following a lead on a famous unsolved murder case involving a high ranking political official, discovers a body in a sleazy hotel fittingly known as the Dew Drop Inn. The victim, suspected mob "exterminator" Ronnie Pollack, had connections to the previous unsolved murder. Who exterminated the exterminator? Was it a vengeful federal prosecutor? A disgruntled FBI agent? A mysterious hitchhiker? An ambitious defense attorney? A gun-happy trooper? Even the chief of police? It's up to you to figure it out.

Game players are instructed to first read the witness testimony from the reporter, which is presented in the DVD booklet. After reading the testimony, the DVD can be started, and each player's detective skills are put to the test.

The main strength of the game is its simplicity. The main menu is very easy to navigate, and information can be reviewed at any time. Players can examine evidence, review an autopsy report, see a video recap of the crime scene and, most importantly, interrogate six key suspects in the case (listen carefully - each suspect gives a rather lengthy, detailed testimony, yet vital information is hidden within each testimony).

The case itself is also a strength of the game. Fortunately, it is not an easy case to solve. It challenges the players with a wealth of information, subtle hints and a conclusion that surprised me yet still made sense (much to my chagrin, but to the game's credit, I guessed wrong the first time).

If there is a weakness, it's that there is only one case (I would have loved trying my hand at another one). However, the game can be played among various groups of people, even perhaps pre-teens (although the game is about solving a murder, there is minimal blood and no onscreen violence, as well as no language or nudity; nothing in this game is as violent or grim as what players are likely see any day on prime-time TV).

In short, Stab in the Dark is a lot of fun for fans of whodunits and would work as an entertaining, unique activity at a party or family gathering. See if you can pay attention and get it right the first time.
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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