Sleuth Kings – Case 031: Dark World

Kara’s Note: This review was brought to you by me! 😀

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Someone will die… of fun!


From the Sleuth Kings website:

Jack Hill, the owner of Dark World – an interactive sci-fi museum – has gone missing. Sullivan is afraid he’s been murdered, but Jack’s wife believes that the museum holds the key to bringing her husband back. With no other leads, Sullivan’s last hope is to search Dark World for any trace of Jack’s whereabouts. If Jack really is still alive, Sullivan is afraid he’s running out of time. Can you help Sullivan navigate Dark World’s six kingdoms and bring Jack home?

First Impressions:

Potential murder? Bringing Jack back at the museum? I did not know what to expect with this box, but I was excited to dive right in and find out!

Also, are interactive sci-fi museums actually a thing? Because that. Sounds. Awesome! 😀

High Points:

As can always be expected with Sleuth King boxes, this one included great puzzles with props that were multifunctional, layered, and well themed. For the most part, all the pieces of the box really worked well together and built on each other effectively to create good suspense for the final puzzle.

There were a couple of moments that made us appreciate how well thought out and intentioned the design was. We initially got concerned with one of the puzzles when we noticed that it did not follow the traditional way of being solved. However, we soon became impressed with how seamless the answer appeared by using the small, but highly effective, clue we were given. Additionally, I appreciated how clear it always is to figure out which clues go together, as the props tend to serve multiple purposes.

We also had some good a-ha moments brought on by the creativity of the puzzles. It is not the first time that we have appreciated their meaningful use of space. In instances like these, I find myself having fleeting thoughts of – hey, that seems weird – and then finally having that lightbulb moment. Some moments come more quickly than others. J

I usually find that the Sleuth King Boxes have their own character to them, which is in large part due to the great theming and creative prop/design choices. It is always fun to be in the Sleuth Kings universe, and we certainly appreciated the apt references to someone whose name may or may not rhyme with Mowie.


Low Points:

The penultimate puzzle was a bit confusing for us. There were multiple parts to it, and while it was not hard to figure out what you needed, it was confusing how to intuitively put together what to do with them. While we were able to stumble into the answer after pushing through with a logical leap, a little more direction would have been helpful.

While the story had an interesting premise, we were left pondering about some of the plot aspects, which made it slightly harder than normal to become fully immersed. Of course, this was not enough to detract from our enjoyment of the puzzles and it certainly helped keep the theme family-friendly, as Sleuth King’s is so great at doing. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with it.


Despite its name, the Dark World was a fun and interactive box to solve. For the most part, we found it very fluid and it seems like we blew right through it. I think that this box would be good for beginner/intermediate puzzlers, but still enjoyable for more seasoned players as well. 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!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.




Live Room Review Break for COVID-19

Hi Everyone!

We haven’t been able to visit many escape rooms in the past couple months, and we are starting to run out of content to share! We have some live rooms to review, but at the moment, we aren’t sure if posting those right now is super helpful, especially since you can’t visit, so we don’t want them to become ineffectual. Every business we’ve visited has at least one review live at the moment, so unless folks feel strongly about it, we’re going to hold off posting those for now.

In the mean time, we are starting to get a nice back log of at home games to share, and we are working on getting those reviews sorted. We’ll continue posting those one Wednesdays, and as we gather a fair amount of reviews for those sorts of games, we’ll post a couple a week or more at the usual times. Hopefully we can get back to the regular schedule for in person games once places start to go live again!

In the mean time, New England Room Escapes has teamed up to bring you a huge puzzle hunt with some great prizes! Check that out here!

Also, check out my favorite online escape rooms of all time here! Neutral’s escape games are logical, relaxing, and a good challenge for fans old and new!

Thanks, and stay safe!

Escape-topia – Enter the Nether (Review)

Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Price: $29 per person

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

The 80s, Lovecraftian horror, what’s not to love?


From the Escape-topia website:

The year is 1986 and young Billy Royce has disappeared.

His parents called the local authorities, but after learning that Billy heard things in the walls and planned to go on a quest into a life-draining dimension to save a creature called a Planetar from a monster known as an Illithid, they concluded that he was merely on this “pretend” quest and would return in a day or two.

That was over a week ago and his parents are desperate, so they hired your team of paranormal investigators to find him – and if there is any truth to what he said – then to do whatever it takes to bring their son home before he disappears into the Nether forever.

First Impressions:

The moment you step into Escape-topia, you’re transported into (your game host) Mother’s twisted domain, modeled after a spooky hotel. The staff stayed in character during our rooms, and I can definitely say that Mother and her Head of Housekeeping are incredibly hospitable and would love for you to stay as their guests forever. Which is fine with us, that means free escape games for life, right? They also have a pet Illithid you can have a picture taken with, which is a great bonus!


So friendly!

High Points:

Aside from the immediate immersion, there are some great hidden easter eggs throughout Mother’s dimension, referencing other spooky entertainment, and one easter egg in particular is more than worth tracking down! I won’t spoil what they are here, but if you are able to give Escape-topia a visit, make sure to have a look around the lobby for some hidden clues! The set of Escape the Nether is just as well designed as the lobby, and being in the room really feels like stepping back into the 80s. With some awesome nostalgia sprinkled in, as well as a cool Stranger Things vibe that stays a small homage, rather than a rip-off, this room is awesome from the word go. As we delved further into the Nether, we found that there was an amazing dichotomy between each level of the game, and the sets and puzzles showed this off beautifully. Props within the room are highly tactile, and one particular puzzle I was immediately enamored with, then slightly frustrated by, but ultimately loved, is an awesome little puzzle that requires making some great connections, and receiving enormous amounts of satisfaction as it slowly begins to slide into the correct places. Tying all these excellent touches together is a wonderful soundtrack and a couple cool lighting and practical effects that elevate the experience from an escape room to a full blown adventure!

The game flow within the room is fantastic as well, and we never felt completely stuck on any one thing. Connections between clues and puzzles were well implemented, and every puzzle we came across felt as though it belonged within the universe of the room. There are a good mix of interactions within, and different types of puzzlers will all find something to love during their adventure. My wife and I took on this room as a two person team, and our differing skill sets worked well as this room is very challenging and requires excellent teamwork throughout! The challenge is very fair, but will put even the most experienced groups to the test. Strangely enough, though I’m fairly certain there is a timer within the room, (somehow I forgot to notate this, but I’m pretty sure,) I didn’t feel myself checking the clock like usual due to the enrapturing nature of the puzzles! Most of the interactions require some form of teamwork, and when there are ones that can be solved solo, the game takes a somewhat non-linear branch to ensure everyone remains engaged. I cannot wait to see where Escape-topia takes their story line next, as the narrative within this room evolved excellently, and seemed to end on a cliffhanger, leaving us wanting more in the best way possible!

Low Points:

There were a few unclued hidden objects, and we got into the groove of looking high and low for them, but it’s always more fun when hidden objects are clued by an enigma in the room. The ultimate puzzle was really cool, but we had some mechanical issues that made it harder to keep in place and unlock what we needed. The set piece for this puzzle was also really beautiful, but it did feel fairly finicky on the dials we needed to set, and there was a bit of fiddling we had to do once we had everything otherwise in place.


Enter the Nether is a fantastic game, and we enjoyed every second of this challenging experience. The immersion here is second to none, and I can tell that the staff really loves what they do, from the performances of Mother and her staff, to the beautifully designed rooms and lobby, everything is absolutely wonderful. Their most challenging game is great for escape veterans, and though I’d recommend getting a room or two under your belt before taking this one on, I believe that new players will still love the experience, especially if they aren’t too proud to take a clue here and there. I highly recommend making a trip out to Escape-topia, where you can Enter the Nether yourself here! Give our regards to Mother!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full disclosure: Escape-topia provided media discounted tickets for our group.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Duel (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Now you have another reason to stay indoors.


From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

One city. Two killers in competition. A twisted game that can only end in bloodshed.

First Impressions:

The Deadbolt Mystery Society continues to cement its place as one of the most creative subscription boxes out there, theme wise, with this game. I love the idea of a couple of crazed killers competing with each other this way, with codified rules just barely keeping the entire thing falling into complete chaos. From the time this game was announced, I was looking forward to it!

High Points:

In addition to the wildly original theme, this box ties together many of the previous boxes into the shadowy organization that’s putting on this murderous event. It’s always lovely to see some nice call backs to other mysteries while each box remains its own, self contained case. Deadbolt has definitely struck an excellent balance between interconnected storytelling while still ensuring that each entry remains its own separate thing. As new boxes include further revelations, I become ever more immersed in the world of Valley Falls. The story line for Duel is great, and the box is slightly more linear in places, allowing for the narrative to evolve more naturally and in a way that evolves over the course of the full duel between the Serpent and the Red Bishop. (#TeamSerpent all day.) Props are great, and everything feels high quality, especially the super cool buttons you can wear to show your support for your favorite killer! My wife and I both liked Team Serpent’s aesthetic more, so we just sort of displayed it on the table as we puzzled. There are several QR codes to work through, but as most are sequential, there’s no need to keep up with multiple tabs, ensuring nothing becomes too chaotic.

The game flow is great for the most part, and allows for smooth transition from spot to spot in the majority of cases. There are a few points of non-linearity, and as there are a couple different threads, those moments can pop up at any point you’re feeling stuck. The main twist on the usual formula is fantastic, with sleuths attempting to discover new victims, determine the point tally for the duel, and trying to catch the murderers before they can wreak more havoc! The game truly makes you feel as if you’re squaring up against a monolithic entity of killers, trying to stop them before they can enact their master plans. The puzzles included are full of great code breaking tasks and creative hidden messages to find, all culminating with a fantastic, in theme meta puzzle that works well as a progress tracker as well. There are a lot of connections to be made, and each step provides a nice revelatory moment of satisfaction. The climax is wonderful, continuing to set up a cool Holmes/Moriarty vibe to the proceedings, and in a new development, the ending/epilogue is fully voice acted!


Low Points:

The linearity of one of the main points is overall well implemented, but we found there to be a choke point or two for one stage of the game that stalled the game’s momentum for a while. There is a bit of a logical leap that exacerbated this, but once we’d figured it out, (with a small hint,) things got back on track. (Another puzzle is very easy to overthink, so as a heads up, sometimes the simplest explanation is the best!) The flow was mostly great, as previously mentioned, but from time to time, once we’d exhausted all other threads, it can become a bit choppy. One puzzle has a ubiquitous cipher that long time puzzlers will find very familiar, though it is a nice inclusion for new players.


Easily one of the coolest themes Deadbolt has released, Duel has a fantastic run of enigmas to enjoy as well! Despite a quibble here and there, overall we found this to be a very fun mystery, and look forward to how the new organization and it’s cast of characters will pop up in the future! There’s been a lot of build up lately in some of the more recent boxes, and I cannot wait to see where the writers go with this. Duel is a more challenging box, but I think it’ll be accessible for new players, as this challenge isn’t insurmountable or unapproachable. Veteran players will enjoy the call backs to earlier boxes that go with said challenge as well, and I can easily recommend picking this one up! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code ESCAPE30! You can also see the rest of our Deadbolt Mystery Society reviews here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Deadbolt Mystery Society provided a complementary box.

Think! Escape Games – Shady Tavern (Review)

Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Price: $36 per person

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 3-5)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

How about a game of pool? Care to make it interesting?


From the Think! Escape Games website:

You are hiding out at The Shady Tavern when you get the call. Your cover has been blown. Someone snitched on you. You’ve lost that game of pool and now you have to pay! Sharky and his gang are waiting for you right outside the front door. You will need all your life skills and wit to bail out before things turn nasty…

First Impressions:

Sharky’s Tavern is pretty convincing! When we first made our way in, I instantly felt the vibe of “somewhat shady pub.” There were loads of bar games scattered about as well, and we couldn’t wait to get to solving!


Ooooh! I (usually) love mazes! Little did I know…

High Points:

The Shady Tavern was a unique room, to say the least. While some of the usual trappings of an escape room were included, a large amount of dexterity based puzzling helped this one stand out from the crowd. We enjoyed, for the most part, these unusual puzzles, and found that most of them really added to the experience. Several of these tied into the theme well by being great pub arcade games or pub tricks that had straightforward, but challenging objectives. I really enjoyed a certain puzzle we’ve seen on a large scale at a couple of our favorite rooms reduced in size and given a hidden hint to find, making things somewhat simpler. In the previous times we’ve run up against this type of puzzle, we were given no in room hints on the solving, and this inclusion really made it more of a fun, “wow” moment rather than an exercise in “do you know how this works or do you need to burn a hint?” The sense of progression is well implemented, and as players progress, they will definitely feel a great sense of satisfaction as they make their way to the ultimate goal. The set was, as previously mentioned, rather cool, and from the word go, we were immediately immersed. There are a few non-linear points, and these help alleviate the possibility of standing around syndrome, but there are several linear points that do a good job of gate keeping, though it does sacrifice the ability to keep a larger group entertained fully. We took this room on as a couple, so it was enough to keep us puzzling, but had our full 4-6 person group been here, I know some would feel left out. On the whole, this is a really well themed room with some original puzzles we’ve not seen elsewhere, though at times this could be a double edged sword.

Low Points:

We’ll start with the giant elephant, er, set piece in the room. While I usually love this type of interaction, one part of the game that I’d been looking forward to is set up in such a way as to seem to encourage teamwork, but works better with fewer players. We were urged by our GM after a long time flailing about to just take it on solo, which I feel defeats the whole purpose of an escape room. There was nothing else to work on at this point, so this became a huge choke point full of frustration, and sullied an otherwise great room. I’m not joking when I say that it took us a full 20 minutes just to finish this puzzle, and our suspicions that that is normal were confirmed when we spoke to our Game Master afterwards. While I enjoyed some of the dexterity puzzling, this could be frustrating for players looking for a more cerebral experience, so be forewarned if these sorts of puzzles aren’t in your wheelhouse. Overall, the room didn’t feel overly dense with puzzles, and I think this is due to a lot of the dexterity based puzzling taking a good bit of time to work through.


Shady Tavern, despite it’s flaws, and there is one big on in particular, is still a good time. For the most part, we had a lot of fun working through the conundrums housed inside, and one bad puzzle does not sink the experience. In order to make the game truly great, though, I’d suggest tweaking some of the long term choke points to take less time, and adding in a few more mental challenges to even things up a bit. Overall, though we did enjoy ourselves. Players should be forewarned, however, that this is certainly a different experience to your usual escape room, and a fair amount of dexterity is required. Folks who enjoy that type of puzzle will have a good bit of fun here, but those frustrated by this sort of thing should choose a different room. Book your time escaping Sharky’s Tavern here!

7/10 (Good)

Full disclosure: Think! Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for our group.