Holiday Hiatus and Another Recommendation!

Happy Winter Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, New Years, and Holiday Season! We’ll be travelling during the upcoming couple weeks, so it’s time for another quick hiatus to close out the year. Escape Room Adventurer will return January 7th with new reviews.

In the mean time, if you took our recommendation during the Thanksgiving break, you might have finished the astounding Barrow Hill. If not, I highly recommend checking that game out; fans of adventure and immersive puzzling will surely love it. If you have played Barrow Hill, perhaps you’ll like another Adventure Game favorite of mine, also available from Shadow Tor and Darkling Room, The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure. The Lost Crown is not only an incredible adventure game, filled with exploration, puzzles, and a complex supernatural mystery, but a work of stylistically brilliant art. Set in a mostly black and white world, Jonathan Boakes uses pops of color, excellent sound design, and photographically imaged backgrounds to truly transport the player into the town of Saxton. This independently produced game has provided me with many hours of entertainment, and I think puzzle enthusiasts will have a great time with it as well. It can be purchased DRM-free from the Shadow Tor Studios website here!

The Conundrum Box – Sleepy Hollow Box 2: The Awakening (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review comes to you from me! 😀

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $30 per box


From The Conundrum Box website:


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:

For everyone who did Part 1, the title of this one seemed pretty apropos to its interesting ending. I was excited to put my thinking cat on and see where the story would take us!


Yay Points:

And take us through an interesting story it did! I feel like this shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler, but this box involves the story of Ichabod Crane. However, The Conundrum Box has put their own interesting spin on this classic story that makes you see these characters in a new light.

As with previous boxes, this one is packed with envelopes that contain some great and varied puzzles, with a number of unique ones that I haven’t seen before. The puzzles provided great opportunities for teamwork as well as dividing and conquering. With so many types, having a team with different approaches to solving these conundrums is really helpful. It certainly made for some satisfying moments on my end!

For the most part, this box had great, intuitive clues and interactions, and I enjoyed how the story was able to couch them. Multiple puzzles were really neat and there were many obviously hidden clues that are really helpful with the deductions. One in particular was really satisfying when I finally realized what the key was to solving it!

It can sometimes be difficult when boxes refer to materials from previous boxes, but I think this one included some great references to help point the way (FYI: the website also provides downloadable versions of the items of interest for those who choose this route!).

This mystery also had some good tactile props and visual references. In particular, their map was once again very detailed and well done.

It’s a nice touch that the website provides Extras in the form of Spotify playlists and food/drink recipes. I haven’t gotten the chance to try making any of them, but they do seem delicious!

Also, in the last box, I commented how the mobile site was a little harder to navigate. Since then, they’ve added an easily accessible navigation bar for each puzzle! They also include a great “how-to” reference on the intro page to help orient you to this. 😊

Pondering Points:

In the last section, I complimented the variety of puzzles that this box included. Unfortunately, this can also be a double-edge sword in some cases, as some of the puzzles have the potential for causing roadblocks. But! The hint system does a great job in pointing you in the right direction and guiding you toward the solution. Admittedly, we’ve gotten good use with it on a couple of the puzzles, and were able to reverse engineer the solution to see what logic we were missing.

After needing to consult one of the answers though, we were still confused how one of the numbers is part of the solution, as we’re pretty confident the puzzle provides one more than the solution indicates. As the hints acknowledge, this puzzle can be tricky – perhaps a picture with the appropriate areas highlighted would be helpful here.

The hints also identify what is likely to be the hardest part of the box, and in our experience, it was indeed. It will definitely be a hit or miss with players as it is a longer and more complicated process puzzle, involving a lot of clues to put together and things to keep in mind. The logic felt a bit arduous on our end, and there was some ambiguity on how to start solving it after putting together the information we needed.

There was one puzzle that was good overall, but the colors used can sometimes be indistinguishable in certain areas, depending on the player and room lighting. I am apparently not as good at distinguishing colors as I think I am. :/


Overall, this box had a lot of great interactions and satisfying solves. It certainly was a fun sequel to Part 1, and I’ll be interested to see how it ends in Part 3! Subscribe to The Conundrum Box here! You can get $5 off your first box with our Promo Code ERA5OFF!

7/10 (Good)


Sleuth Kings – Case 027: Krampus Kidnappings (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Don’t Kramp my style!


From the Sleuth Kings website:

Asuna Yukimura has been kidnapped by Krampus the Christmas Devil. Now, being held for ransom, Asuna intends to make Krampus regret ever targeting her. She has only one option – create as much trouble as she can. Luckily, she still has her cell phone, and Sullivan is only an email away. Can you work with Sullivan to help Asuna beat Krampus at his own game and escape?

First Impressions:

I’m a big fan of everyone’s favorite Christmas demon, Krampus, so it was great to see that Sullivan would be taking on a case themed after this holiday hoodlum! Even better, one of our favorite supporting characters, Asuna, would be joining the cast for this particular mystery. We couldn’t wait to dig into this holiday themed mystery and got cracking as soon as we had a free night!


You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Krampus will throw you in a sack and drag you away.

High Points:

I said it while we were solving the case, and we immediately thought it was an appropriate quote to sum up a lot of the Sleuth Kings experience, so I share it here. If any subscription box can make a story that centers around child abduction light-hearted, it is Sleuth Kings. I mean this in the absolute best possible way. In almost any other light, the kidnapping of high schoolers by Krampus would likely be horrifying, but in this case, Asuna’s empowerment and the excellent writing and tone employed keep spirits light. The props and clues included are appropriately mysterious and sinister, and absolutely layered to the brim with puzzles, including a few points of meta-puzzling that really tie things together well. All tie excellently into the theme as well, and bring a Christmassy vibe to the proceedings that we enjoyed.

The game flow for Krampus Kidnappings is pretty great, providing an excellent flow and providing intuitive, yet subtle hints. There is a very specific point at which things become somewhat non-linear, allowing us to pick our favorite puzzle types and work on them in tandem. The puzzles build on one another even more than usual, and we loved the twisted web of clues that we had to unravel in order to uncover the secret behind Krampus and his motivations, and as the puzzles were solved, the narrative evolved nicely as well. There was a particular side story that lent some fantastic comic relief to the experience, and working with Asuna, even when she has been kidnapped, is always a joy. The climax was excellent, and the twist and epilogue deliver a satisfying end to the machinations of the kidnapper.

There were a couple moments in which some of the puzzles were fairly familiar through having been a long time Sleuth Kings subscriber, but luckily, these puzzles had evolved from their basic forms, and were utilized in a way that allowed us to discover the deeper meanings and hidden additions through some superb sleuthing. This was definitely a great box to close out the year and enjoy some great holiday themed puzzling.

Low Points:

This one was somewhat of a lighter mystery overall; once we overcame the first hurdle, we were surprised to see that we blew through it pretty quickly, so veteran solvers might find it somewhat easier than usual. The hurdle in question had to do with a couple interactions that provided less clear solutions than usual, but as we moved on, we were able to solve certain clues in an unintended way. The logic still makes sense once we reverse engineered everything, but one particular layer of this mystery isn’t quite as well signposted as we are used to. We were slightly disappointed that we only got to interact directly with Asuna once during the experience, we love how she’s written and always look forward to those interactions.


Krampus Kidnappings was a lot of fun to work through, and once we were able to untangle some initial hiccups, the game flow worked smoothly and revealed an awesome holiday mystery! Though it may be a quicker solve for veterans, I still recommend trying it out, as it provides many great moments of revelation, and newcomers will find this one accessible yet challenging. You can purchase this and other previous cases from the Sleuth King’s archives here, and if you’d like to subscribe to upcoming adventures, you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Escape Room Arlington – Super Villains (Review)

Location: Arlington, VA

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 2-4)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Gotham City needs its heroes.


From the Escape Room Arlington website:

Slip on your spandex and strap on your utility belt! The super villains have escaped the comics! Using your wit and wiles, you must break into the very heart of darkness; transport yourself into the comic lairs of four of the city’s most notorious super villains, discover the clues they’ve left behind and save the city… if it’s not too late.

First Impressions:

Escape Room Arlington had already shown us some impressive rooms, so we were absolutely hyped for their take on the rare Superhero genre, at least in regards to escape rooms! Side note, as much as we love being the super heroes, the title of this room made me pine for a room where you get to be the super villains, which I think would be enormously fun! Perhaps a sequel is called for?

High Points:

Super Villains begins with an intense opening in an expansive, varied, and beautiful set. Initially placed in the center of a completely open space, players travel between the lairs of Catwoman, Joker, The Penguin, and The Riddler, and each room is wonderfully decorated to reflect the personality of their owners. This openness is great for larger parties, allowing the group to split up and take on their favorite villain, while crossing over between each room as pertinent clues reveal themselves. This is exactly what our group of five did, as from the word go, I took the Catwoman room, one friend took on The Joker, and my wife and other two friends split time between The Penguin and Riddler’s lairs. At no point during the game were any of us not fully involved with puzzling, and we all found puzzles to suit our tastes and solving styles. The rooms weave together beautifully, and the game flow’s entirely non-linear threads tie together perfectly at the climax, giving us tangible feedback on our progression and making for enormously satisfying solves. Wrapping everything into the theme of the room are a cavalcade of fantastic props, including some tactile items that encourage some great mechanical puzzling.

Due to our frantic divide and conquer puzzling, we made pretty good time in this room, (and capstoned our years long quest for a golden gnome, a Ravenchase staple,) but that isn’t to say that the adventure isn’t densely packed with puzzles, quite the opposite! So many of these interactions are part of the set design, and figuring out their secrets is immensely enjoyable. There are some neat twists on standard designs, helping the entire game feel fresh, even for folks on a 23 room mega-marathon, and working through this highly intuitive yet entertainingly challenging experience was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the highlights of my escape career so far!


Our quest for a golden gnome is finally complete!

Low Points:

There was one particular puzzle that involved a fair bit of squinting to make out, which is somewhat by design, but even with tools to figure this one out, it’s a bit of a seek and find that was mostly underwhelming. That being said, we enjoyed every other puzzle in the room, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. The only other thing is, as may be obvious, this room could be a bit easy for long time enthusiasts, however, I feel it was still a reasonable challenge, and we had a glorious time in this room.


Escape Room Arlington’s Super Villains is a novel room, with an interestingly open layout that still manages to hide many secrets within its walls! Original puzzling, some beautiful set designs, and an intense storyline that had us battling it out with some of our favorite villains all wove together into one of the most exciting games we have played in Virginia or beyond! Without a doubt, I recommend checking out this room, and look forward to what the designers come up with next! Book your time in Escape Room Arlington’s manic comic book here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room Arlington provided media discounted tickets for this room.


Chapel Thrill Escapes – The Belltower (Review)

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Players: 3-6 (We Recommend at least 4, as this guarantees a private experience)

Price: $20 per person (Discounts for UNC Students and Faculty)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

For Whom the Bell Tolls


From the Chapel Thrill Escapes website:

Dr. Venable, a famous chemistry professor, was last seen in 1934 at the top of the belltower. He pronounced he had made the world’s next greatest discovery. But soon after, he vanished. Now, you’ve been contacted by his distant relative to enter his secret study and find out what great, or sinister, discovery he made. If you so dare.

First Impressions:

Chapel Thrill Escapes hit our radar as something of a novel concept. This non-profit, student built and operated escape room is housed on campus at the University of North Carolina! We really dug this idea, and reached out to book a room as soon as we heard. We also appreciated them working with us when we needed to move the booking, and their customer service was great!

High Points:

First, I’d like to thank Parker, our game master, for being a great host and adjusting on the fly when something went wrong with one of the puzzles. I’ve been in professional escape rooms that aren’t nearly as responsive when something goes wrong, so the quick action is appreciated! Speaking of, I’ve also been in professional escape rooms that aren’t as well designed as this one. This student led effort showed some real promise, and is honestly better than some for profit rooms in the Triangle area. The set design is appropriate, and well done for their budget, with some fantastic hand crafted puzzles and props peppering the room. There were also some cool twists, subverting expectations in a couple areas, and delivering some cool surprises, especially in the second act. All the puzzles and set dressings remain on theme, and we really enjoyed how The Belltower invokes it’s namesake, allowing for a nice sense of integrated progression.

The game flow itself was great, with only one choke point we came across during our game. With enough non-linearity to keep four veteran escape room enthusiasts happily puzzling the entire game, and a density of puzzles that ensured we didn’t escape too quickly, I was impressed with how well designed the actual game was. Bereft of any red herrings or logical leaps, the experience remained satisfyingly intuitive from start to finish. Even those puzzles that included some very common escape room tropes did so in original new ways. One particular puzzle that I loved was a multi-step interaction that ended with us using a prop previously thought to be set dressing in a really cool way. In fact, there were several points at which we came across puzzles we’d never seen before, and that’s quite the feat for our group! The latter part of the adventure was densely packed with these sorts of puzzles, and we ooohed and ahhhed our way through them all. On the whole, we were pleasantly surprised with how masterfully this room was done!

Low Points:

The one choke point we came across could use a bit of iteration to ensure groups don’t get stuck on it, and from our conversation with our GM, this one is still being tweaked to ensure that it becomes as intuitive as the rest of the room. We came across a couple hiccups during our game, but our GM was very attentive and fixed these as soon as they came up, and I’m sure these growing pains will be worked out soon. Finally, there are a few points where the inner workings of some of the more technical puzzles are visible. With a bit of masking to hide some wires and that sort of thing, the immersion factor would be even better.


Chapel Thrill Escapes is a great new escape room in the area, and the fact that it is a non-profit, student led effort makes it even more of an achievement! Boasting puzzles and a game flow that puts some professional rooms to shame, I absolutely recommend giving this room a shot. It kept a group of enthusiasts well entertained for the entire experience, and is approachable and intuitive enough that new players will have an excellent time as well. Book your time puzzling through The Belltower here!

8/10 (Great)

Full disclosure: Chapel Thrill Escapes provided media discounted tickets for our group.