The Conundrum Box – Sleepy Hollow Box 1: Washington’s Spies (Review)

Editor’s Note: This review comes to you courtesy of my lovely wife, Kara. Thank you Kara for this excellent review!

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $30 per box

 

Theme:

From The Conundrum Box’s Website:

SAVE THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND SAVE YOURSELF FROM THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN

This three part series takes place during American Revolution and afterwards. General Washington’s life is in danger! He has tasked you to help stop the most recent assassination plot. Your leads have led you to the small village of Sleepy Hollow where you meet the townsfolk, and soon discover their dark secrets. The second and third adventures in this season get weirder and darker.

First Impressions:

Though I have enjoyed our latest run of “spooky” themed boxes, I was not sad our Halloween run would soon be over with the completion of this one. However, I have always enjoyed the film/TV adaptations of the classic story of Sleepy Hollow! After our first taste of The Conundrum Box’s Boxes, Anastasia: The Lost Princess, I was excited to see what their take on the legend would be.

(Note: Brandon has excitedly informed me that the spooky themes are apparently not over…I do this for you, readers. Though I do have to admit that these themes do make for great mystery boxes!)

High Points:

This is only the second of The Conundrum Boxes that we have done, but it is very clear how thoughtful they are in concocting and immersing you into the story they have created for you to enjoy. This box included a “choose your own adventure” element, which was an enjoyable update to the adventure mode that we saw in the Anastasia box. I would certainly be curious to know the percentage of people who choose each path!

For the most part, the puzzles were really fun to solve, with a couple in particular being very satisfying to complete. The story wove well into the puzzles, which were multilayered, diverse, and non-linear. I always appreciate when there’s a range of difficulty, which was evident here. The clues were pretty intuitive and it was easy to put the associated ones together, which is always helpful in identifying if you have the right parts to solve the puzzle. And, if you’re ever not sure, The Conundrum Box website has a great, incremental hint system that will put you on the right path.

The box contained a neat meta-story, and we really liked the way the clues allowed us to move forward with it. There was a reference that was used multiple times, and though this may seem like a minor detail, I just wanted to say THANK GOODNESS for its organization. This made it extremely easy to use, and saved us from a lot of potential headache.

Actually, there were a couple of items that were used multiple times, and they were always pretty intuitive. In particular, there were some mini-figures that were a great visual aid with a couple of the puzzles. Also, while this is neither a pro nor a con, I was surprised that one of the more tactile clues wasn’t used more (though I did like the way it was used!).

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Low Points:

As alluded to above, there were a couple of puzzles that could use improvement. One of them involved a great visual component, but the last part of it is confusing as the method used to solve it seems inconsistent/contradictory with the internal logic of the puzzle.

The other puzzle we had trouble with is one that I think players will either love or hate in its current form. I really like the thought behind the puzzle, but there were a lot of things to keep in mind and a high potential for human error, without a clear indication of what mistake was made. That being said, some sort of automation in this puzzle would be very helpful in allowing players to make choices and be able to accurately see the results of those choices. Additionally, while I am all for saving paper, this puzzle in particular would have benefited from being printed single-sided.

As mentioned previously, this box contained mini-figures that were very helpful in completing the puzzles. It’s possible we may have missed it, but one more representing us players would’ve been helpful. Though, we did enjoy being represented by a little plastic cat that we just happened to have nearby. 😊

As a minor point, we were using our phones to navigate the website (which is great in general). I probably would recommend players to use a computer rather than a phone, as the mobile site didn’t seem to have the navigational structure of the desktop version, which makes it easier to go back and forth between puzzle pages. This sometimes made it slightly harder for us to figure out which page we needed to return to in order to find the puzzle page we wanted to work on next.

The box would also benefit from some audio options. Though I enjoyed the detailed story line, it can sometimes be a lot to read out loud to your partner/group.

Speaking of story, the ending of the box was certainly unexpected. This is not a bad thing, and was clearly a transition to the next box, but I definitely did not expect it to go where it did.

Verdict:

Though there were certainly some places for improvement, this was a solid start to the 3-box series. I think the range of puzzles will keep it interesting for both newer and experienced players. With an intriguing ending and a couple of neat items that I’m pretty confident will be used for the next box, we look forward to seeing them again in Part 2! Subscribe to The Conundrum Box here! You can get $5 off your first box with our Promo Code ERA5OFF!

7/10 (Good)

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