The Conundrum Box – The Great Explorer’s Society and The Orient Express (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $30 per box

Theme:

From The Conundrum Box website:

All Aboard the Orient Express! The extravagantly wealthy J. D. Pritchard has the find of a lifetime for any adventurer, the original copy of the 1001 Arabian Nights. He has decided that he will auction off this prize, but first all potential bidders must join him on an elaborate ride on the Orient Express. On which he plans to wine, dine, and determine a party worthy of having his prized possession. You are sent to impress Pritchard for your client, but something goes terribly wrong and now it is up to you to solve a mystery, save the train, and get that book, all before the end of the line!

First Impressions:

Sleepy Hollow was an interesting start to the Conundrum Box’s series of games, though it felt a bit overly expository and uneven at times. However, it was also an overall fun experience, with clever challenges and a well crafted storyline, so I was interested to see what a new series would bring to the table. As I’ve professed many times, I really enjoy the mysteries of Agatha Christie, so The Orient Express is certainly an exciting theme for me!

High Points:

I really thought that The Orient Express was a step up from the previous Sleepy Hollow boxes, as the game flow felt much smoother, and the overall text was not overly long. (However, I do think a voiced version of the text would be fantastic, allowing teams to listen to the exposition together.) One of the things that I thought held other boxes back were the large scale process puzzles that bogged us down until we could muddle through the very long logical pathfinding, and for this box this has been streamlined to the point that I found myself enjoying this particular Conundrum Box hallmark. The initial set up for the game was intriguing, and we found ourselves enjoying the timed component of an at home adventure for the first time, which is really saying something, as we usually ignore timers since we find they take away from the fun. The puzzles included were all very clever, and well designed, and we found at the end that it was difficult to select just one favorite puzzle, opting to choose a few instead. The enigmas weave well through the experience, and each point presents a semi-non-linear method of play, allowing for multiple players to engage with differing puzzles or alternate as they become stuck, should they so desire. We really enjoyed the props included, and one in particular intuitively used a couple of items we didn’t think we’d originally need to great effect.

There are several fantastic surprises included within the story and gameplay of The Orient Express, all of which add excellently to the experience. As the game literally and metaphorically reaches the final station, two of my favorite twists occur, and I definitely did not see them coming. The story mostly builds organically via the gameplay, and builds towards the exciting climax in an immersive fashion. One particular logic puzzle conveys the personality of the cast of suspects well, and shows rather than tells by integrating the story bits into the puzzle. At the end, the story segues extremely smoothly into the realm of the next box, and I’m immensely excited to tackle the adventure that comes next!

Low Points:

There was one item that ended up in the wrong spot for us, but it was part of a fairly commonplace code, so we didn’t have trouble with the solve. One particular puzzle was a toned down version of some of the previous pathfinding problems we have seen in previous boxes, and though those weren’t my favorite, this one was fun for me, but a couple of tries were needed as I initially found an answer that worked, given the rules, but was not the one the website accepted. There were a few typos I came across on the website, but they weren’t egregious, however they were definitely noticeable. The only typo that tripped us up was part of the “dinner menu” clue, but we were still able to make out the code after a bit of confusion.

Verdict:

So far, The Orient Express is easily my favorite Conundrum Box to date. Coupling an Agatha Christie style mystery with loads of clever problems to solve, I’m very excited to see where future boxes take us! This is definitely a good starting point for new players, and the experience is very intuitive overall, but veteran puzzlers will still find plenty of challenge within. Subscribe to The Conundrum Box here! You can get $5 off your first box with our Promo Code ERA5OFF!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Conundrum Box provided a complementary review copy.

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