CSI Experience: CluedUpp Games Review

Have you any clue what we’ve been up to? If you’ve ever heard of CluedUpp, the immersive games app, then you’re onto something. Recently, my family participated in the CSI experience with CluedUpp. I’m sharing all you need to know for this experience. Is it worth your time? Is it fun? How does it work? Is it as immersive as they say? Let’s find out!

What is CluedUpp? 

Clued up is an app that provides “immersive outdoor experiences” (CluedUpp Games – Outdoor Experiences And Team Building Activities). It’s an event company for geogaming. You interact with an app while traveling within a specified area to solve clues. CluedUpp is great for family, friends, and professional team building. 

What is the CSI Event? 

CluedUpp currently provides two types of events – “CSI” and “Alice in Wonderland”. My family attended the CSI event close to us. We were given a case to solve. In the CSI event, you are given a case, clues, witness statements, persons of interest, and various challenges to help you investigate a crime. All of the work is done through the CluedUpp app on your phone, but you have to move within the map radius to unlock the features in the game. 

Where are the events located? 

CluedUpp provides geogaming events all across the globe. You can enter your zip code on their website and they will provide a list of events close to your area. My family attended the CSI event in Long Branch, NJ. The event was held at Pier Village. The location of this event was interesting, to say the least. Pier Village is a popular tourist spot in the Summer. It is located on the beach and has tons of businesses for shopping and dining. It also rests between multiple oceanfront hotels. You can imagine just how crowded it can get, and on the day of our event it was extremely crowded. 

Are there prizes for completing the game? 

Yes, for each event there are prizes to be won. They have categories for various things like best team picture, best costume, best team name, best time (whichever team finished first), best little detective (under age 16), and best pet detective. Unfortunately, our team didn’t win any prizes, but I’m biased, and I believe we should have won best costumes… Can you guess who we were from the picture below? 

How does the experience work? 

On the day of our event, we drove into Long Branch and tried to find parking. It was really crowded, so eventually we parked in a store lot opposite Pier Village. Once we pressed start, the timer began, and we were on our way. In the app, you get a briefing from an inspector, and your task is to investigate the murder of 4 people. You have to find out how these people are connected, if there is a serial killer on the loose, and who the killer is. 

Using your phone, you walk to different points on the map, and when you reach a certain point a witness or piece of evidence will unlock. Each time this happens, you have the opportunity to ask the witnesses questions or to analyze the clues. Your team members will get to vote on which questions to ask and when, whether they think the witness/poi is a suspect or not, and whether you want to use informants or hints during questioning. Each person of interest and clue helps build the storyline and gets you one step closer to identifying the killer. 

What do you need to prepare for the event? 

You will need to do a few minor things to prepare for the event. First, identify your team members. CluedUpp allowed teams to consist of 6 official members. Children under age 16 and pets can also play. Second, create your team’s name and make it as original as you can. Our team’s name was “Get a CLUE Investigations” because we were dressed as CLUE characters. Third, you will need to put together your team costumes. On the day of the event, we saw many teams with matching shirts and some teams with additional props. Fourth, you should designate a team leader for the game. At any point during the game, someone else can take over leadership, but the team leader will be able to see different things and have special permissions in the app. Finally, you will need to register your team about a week before the event date so that you have enough time to be verified by the game officials. 

Is there any additional information you need to know? 

Yes, there is definitely some information you should know that was not officially touched on by the informative emails sent from CluedUpp. I am going to be as honest as I can so you will be prepared. 

First, there is a lot of walking involved. We knew the event was outdoors, but our location was a large area to search, and you could not drive around the heart of Pier Village without holding up traffic. Be prepared to walk around for at least an hour and a half, in many different directions. If you have team members who are unable to do a lot of walking, I suggest you have them sit at a central location and stay connected to you via a phone call. You will need those team members to complete the challenges in the app. Keep in mind, the team leader will need to do the most walking because your clues and persons of interest do not unlock unless the team leader has reached the specific spot where they are located. 

Second, you can pause the game but at a cost. You will be able to pause the game for food and bathroom breaks, but in order to continue the game, the team leader has to go back to your original starting point. This will not affect your official game time, but unofficially it will take up your time during this event. 

Third, you will need to be prepared for the weather. It was very hot on the day of our event. Check the weather reports before the day of your event so you know what you will be up against. In our case, the temperature was very high, and we were walking around in the sun for a few hours. You can prepare by wearing light clothing, carrying water bottles, and resting in shaded areas. Unfortunately for us, there was not a lot of shade around Pier Village, especially on the boardwalk and in open fields. The heat really affected our time and our moods. 

Fourth, you will need fully charged phone batteries. Like any other app on your phone, the CluedUpp app does use a lot of battery. In addition, the heat and data/location usage helped to drain some of our phones’ batteries. 

Fifth, there are time penalties within the game. Each team member must complete the challenges in the game. If you get something wrong, if the challenge isn’t completed by all team members, or you take too long then you will incur time penalties. You should keep these in mind when playing the game. The time passes very quickly, but your official game time will increase due to penalties. 

Sixth, you will see other teams. Be prepared to see other teams playing the game and crossing paths with them multiple times. Even though the other teams are your “competition”, it’s actually fun to see other people running around trying to solve this game just like you. They know exactly what you are dealing with, and you won’t feel weird for being dressed up in costume and following an app!

Finally, this game is immersive in the basic sense but still very fun. Interacting through an app can be very boring, but the creators make the experience seem more alive by having you travel within the boundaries of the game map. As you hit different locations, you get to see what is actually in the area, and you can imagine those spots as being the different crime scene/clue locations. In the real world, you would have to travel to different locations and track down witnesses and persons of interest if you were an investigator. CluedUpp did their best to treat you like a real detective. 

If I could suggest one thing, it would be to make the game more immersive by having actors or community members act as live props. I think it would have been interesting for us to have to find actual people and then question them using scripted information from the app. 

Can You Really Solve the Game?

Yes, you absolutely can solve the game. Once our team finished finding clues and questioning persons of interest we sat in the car to debrief. We went over all of the information that was given to us. As we pieced together odd comments, physical evidence, and more we were able to make sense of who committed the murders. 

In the game, you are able to vote on each person of interest. You can select whether they are guilty, innocent, or undecided. Each team member votes, and then the team leader can only submit one person. You also get to vote on the motive. Did this person carry out the murders for love, money, business, revenge, family protection, etc? It was really fun trying to guess what we thought might have happened and then putting it all together. 

Our team did solve the game correctly!

Is the CluedUpp CSI Experience worth it? 

Yes, this experience is worth it. It was a really fun summer activity. If you’re like me, then you like scavenger hunts and puzzles and mysteries. This is the perfect game for you! Even if you aren’t a big fan of these things, you will still like this event because it is a challenging and active experience to get you out into the community. It’s also a great way to spend time with friends or family and to do something you don’t do often. I suggest looking into the CluedUpp games and purchasing a team ticket for the CSI experience. You will have a blast! 

Check out how I made some of our DIY costume props on my youtube channel. Click here for the video!

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