Location: Your Home!
Players: We recommend 1-4
Price: $30 per box
Long Live the Romanovs!
From the Conundrum Box website:
In 1918 the world believed that Czar Nicholas II and his whole family, including his youngest daughter Anastasia, were murdered by the Bolsheviks in Russia, but you have recently found that that isn’t the whole truth. Now you must race against the Soviets as they try to find the Grand Duchess Anastasia that got away! Find her first and save her from the same grisly fate that befell the rest of her family!
A new escape room subscription box is always exciting to hear about, but when it comes from an experienced design team who previously ran an escape room business, it becomes a must play! The unique theme of Anastasia captured my attention, as did the promise of longer stories told over multiple boxes in future installments. The day the box hit our doorstep, we couldn’t wait to begin puzzling!
One of the first things we noticed about The Conundrum Box is that they successfully portray a historical story through puzzles and an excellent online component that delivers a level of interactivity we really enjoyed. The historical basis for puzzling delivers an experience that we had hoped for from Finders Seekers, but was not found within that particular subscription, so it is awesome to see this gap in the market finally filled! The experience is presented in a non-intimidating fashion, with only a small amount of puzzles and evidence to work through, with several envelopes containing new interactions and props that are opened as the story progresses. This keeps the game well directed, as well as providing an excellent mechanic for traversal though the game’s world.
From start to finish, there is a dense amount of puzzles, and the game remains highly varied throughout, ensuring different puzzling styles are well represented. There is a point in the story where everything starts to kick off in earnest, and this stage of the game delivers some of the most exciting story beats, as well as some of the best, most tactile puzzles. Things become very non-linear at this point, and our team was incredibly engaged with the experience throughout this stage of the adventure. This isn’t to say that the initial stage of the game isn’t fun, but once the initial expository beats have been completed, the adventure becomes extremely immersive! For the most part the game flow is brilliantly smooth, delivering new story revelations, puzzles, and props at a good clip, ensuring the game has fresh new content at every turn. Cluing is extremely well done, especially with particular puzzles, some of which hide their secrets in plain sight, only becoming clear once certain pieces of evidence have fallen into place. This results in some really brilliant moments of revelation, and it is always satisfying.
A selection of the many, many items to be found within this box!
There was an error in the initial “practice round” puzzle, which we found was a manufacturing problem, luckily this one is solvable otherwise. One particular puzzle caused some confusion as the solution bucked the trend of passwords generally being a word when they include letters, so we were unsure of our answer until we finally tried it. Usually, having an actual word to enter is a great way to ensure players have an immediate check against whether the code is valid, but it’s a small problem since passwords are entered online. Another puzzle requires a lot of guess and check to initially work out, but there is another work around we found that skipped most of this frustration. The adventure gets off to a somewhat slow start, picking up story and puzzle wise about a third of the way through. If you’re a player that doesn’t enjoy reading exposition, this will be a bit of a slog for you. We enjoyed the storyline for the most part, but were definitely more engaged when the non linear puzzling and really exciting moments started to kick off. Though the Adventure mode shows promise, we were somewhat disappointed in the lack of a payoff for the mode itself. A bit of expansion on this could add a whole new layer to the experience, affecting the story depending on how well players do.
Anastasia: The Lost Princess is an good start for The Conundrum Box. While there are a few kinks to work out, this is definitely a new escape room subscription box that I am excited for! With their new three box adventure, Escape from Sleepy Hollow kicking off soon, we cannot wait to see what comes next! I recommend giving this box a shot, as the games are developed by experienced puzzle developers, and The Conundrum Box shows great promise! Subscribe to The Conundrum Box here! You can get $5 off your first box with our Promo Code ERA5OFF!
Full Disclosure: The Conundrum Box provided a complementary box.