Swamp Motel – Plymouth Point (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-6 (We recommend 2-5 players)

Price: £35.00-40.00 per team (About $45.71-52.24 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 75 minutes

How deep does this rabbit hole go?


From the Swamp Motel website:

Plymouth Point is an immersive, online detective game that takes you from the comfy confines of the Plymouth Point Residents Watch into the heart of a deeply unsettling conspiracy. Played on an internet browser, teams will need to follow clues, crack codes and hack passwords in an attempt to find out why a missing resident has vanished. Part escape room, part immersive theatre and all online, Plymouth Point relies on you to peel back the layers of the mystery to find Ivy before it’s too late.

First Impressions:

We have really enjoyed all the virtual escape rooms we’ve visited over the past few months, and it is really great to be able to visit rooms we might not have been able to otherwise, but some of the best experiences we’ve had lately have been rooms and adventures that were developed solely for the online platform. Plymouth Point is just such an experience, and we were excited to see how this more story focused game would play out!

High Points:

For players looking for something new and exciting, Plymouth Point absolutely fits the bill. An interactive detective story full of puzzling enigmas and devious twists, we had an astoundingly good time attempting to find Ivy and discover why she’d disappeared in the first place. The game integrates some marvelous videos into the experience, all of which are well acted and ensure the immersion remains intact throughout. Small tidbits of the greater mystery are solved as we worked through the clues, and some late game revelations just oozed with a barely restrained foreboding. This immersion isn’t only present within the video, as the mystery escapes into the real world as well, utilizing familiar social networking, previously existing websites as well as ones created for the game itself, and messages between the characters themselves. Truly, Plymouth Point uses the online platform to its fullest, ensuring the line between fact and fiction are completely blurred during the entire experience. The mystery has multiple paths players can take, all culminating in an explosive finale that ties up the enigmas presented, but absolutely begs for a sequel at the same time. Should Swamp Motel decide to expand the world of Plymouth Point, we are here for it, no question.

Plymouth Point’s puzzles are mostly research based, tasking players with uncovering the truth by looking into the darkest corners of Ivy’s life, and tracking down what happened to her in the days leading up to her disappearance. Every interaction makes perfect sense within the world of the game, and does an excellent job of showing, not telling by deeply integrating the storyline into every action. Gameplay is brilliantly intuitive, and the signposting is just subtle enough to come naturally to players without seeming forced or overly obvious, and every revealed secret came with a massively satisfying ah ha moment for our team. The adventure is mostly linear, with one specific goal at any point, but since there is loads to investigate at any given time, each player feels engaged with the game as they share information and piece together solutions together. For only £35.00-40.00 per team, this experience is imminently affordable and a great value for the huge amount of enjoyment we got out of the game. We were still talking about it for a few days after, and I cannot wait to see what Swamp Motel comes up with next!

Low Points:

The beginning of the experience was a bit slow, as there was a fair amount of information to go through, and only vague ideas of where the information could be applied. Just a slightly subtle clue could help move things forward a bit smoother here. Passwords were also not standardized like other games with virtual components, meaning there was a bit of guesswork in figuring out if the password included capital letters or not.


Plymouth Point is an astoundingly immersive experience, combining the best features of virtual escape rooms and interactive theatre in order to deliver an adventure that is truly captivating from start to finish. I recommend checking it out as soon as you can as the mystery behind the disappearances in Plymouth Point is not to be missed! Gather your team of online investigators and uncover the conspiracy here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Swamp Motel provided our team with a complementary game.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Catch Me If You Can: The Collector Part 2 (Review)

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

Location: Your Home!

Players: We recommend 2-4 Players

Price: $24.99 + shipping


From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The Collector has returned to finish the grisly business he began last year and the stakes are higher than ever. He’s abducted someone very close to you and has given you a deadline of 24 hours to catch him. Failure is not an option. It’s time to put an end to The Collector’s reign of terror. Difficulty Level: 8/10 Note: This is a sequel to The Collector. We do not recommend purchasing this box if you haven’t done The Collector.

First Impressions

At last – the long awaited sequel to the Collector! The first box ended on a highly mysterious note and set up an extremely interesting story, so I was curious to see how Deadbolt would follow-up and resolve this killer mystery.

Yay Points

I am very happy to report that the story did not disappoint! Instantly, details of Part One rushed back to me as the premise of this new case was revealed. The introduction was a nice segue from the first box and set up this mystery well. As we advanced through the plot, it was clear how well-crafted the story was as well. The conclusion to this two-part saga was very fulfilling, as the Collector’s motivations and actions culminated into a climactic ending that left me satisfied.

I am always impressed by just the sheer amount of items that are packed into each Deadbolt box, and this one did not disappoint. Once we laid everything out, it was pretty easy to match the various pieces of evidence together so that things quickly become manageable. We had a clear starting point due to the physical set-up of certain evidence. Though this involved some initial non-linear solves, the rest of the box quickly led down an intuitive path.

The puzzles themselves were extremely well-developed. They were multilayered, multifunctional, and included a lot of good twists. It was really clear where to apply the solutions, and some of solutions themselves had an additional benefit of helping to establish a pattern for solving a subset of puzzles. Also, the design of the puzzles was well thought out, as crucial parts for solving later puzzles were hidden until the story was ready for them. (As someone who accidentally jumps ahead to puzzles, I was pleasantly surprised at this aspect since it prevented me from solving parts too early.)

As usual, we enjoyed a diverse amount of puzzles in this box, and appreciated the easier wins at the beginning before the game ramped up the challenge. There were also some nice tactile interactions that I thought were clever ideas, and as always the puzzles were well integrated into the storyline and were just plain fun to solve. Overall, we felt like this box was ever so slightly easier than Part 1, boasting a moderate to higher range of difficulty.

Pondering Points

There was one puzzle early on though that was a bit of a leap for us. To be fair, it’s possible we were overthinking things. Perhaps a smaller additional clue would have been helpful to guide us to the right path.

There was also one puzzle that we felt was a little misleading, as the process for solve this conundrum depends on the accuracy of interpreting certain pieces. However, one part is misrepresented in guiding us to the solution. While we were able to figure out relatively easily what we were meant to do, we feel like this part could be clarified so that there is no question.

Final Verdict

I would highly recommend The Collector Part 2 (and of course, Part 1, which we recommend doing first in order to ensure you get the full story experience). The plot is intriguing and the puzzles are a fun set of challenges. These boxes would definitely be better suited to those who are more familiar with puzzling though, as they might be slightly overwhelming to beginner sleuths. 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!

9/10 (Excellent)

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

The Panic Room – CSI: Stranglehold (Review)

Location: Your home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-6 (from the same or different locations) – we suggest 2-3

Price: £20 ($26.73 at the time of this writing.)



From the Panic Room website:

Blood has been spilled across the streets of London, ‘The Eastside Strangler’ has yet to be caught, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. You must follow in the footsteps of the previous detective on the case and finally get some justice. Find out his identity and location before he strikes again! The power is in your hands detectives.

CSI: Stranglehold is a web-based escape game you can play at home, solo, or with a group. Includes audio, video, and visual files that are gradually unlocked as you solve your way through the exciting and fiendish puzzles to find the identity of the ‘Eastside Strangler’ before he chooses another victim.

First Impressions:

After finishing up The Panic Room’s Sherlock Holmes game, I was more than ready to jump forward a bit in time, and take on a new mystery! CSI: Stronghold’s somewhat flashier presentation, and inclusion of video and a grittier story line appealed to me immediately, and I couldn’t wait to see how the adventure would unfold!

High Points:

CSI: Stranglehold is a more complex mystery than Sherlock Holmes, ramping up the difficulty and the deductions needed to solve the puzzles, which appeals to the puzzling enthusiast in me. I also enjoyed the whole production of this game, with it’s snazzy videos and slick presentation. The videos themselves did a great job of upping the interactive feel of the game, and definitely helped pull us into the world of the mystery, for the most part. I also noticed that many of the locks and files we needed to interact with were shown from the start, giving this game more of an escape room feel overall. Inputs are clear, and the challenge remains in solving the puzzle, rather than figuring out what goes where, with clues subtly hidden in order to signpost what is important for progression. There are ongoing clues that come from a particular item, and it is always satisfying when a puzzle presents itself, and a connection is made, revealing the importance of something we previously thought to be innocuous. The game flowed very well from place to place, and while the experience is linear on the whole, this works in the game’s favor by ensuring that the story can progress smoothly. While some of the puzzles were real thinkers, we never came across a point where the logic became obtuse, so the adventure continued to move at a nice clip.

All interactions within the game are intuitive, and though some are particularly challenging, a good amount of brain power and some team work always ensured we’d be able to suss out the answers in due time. One early game favorite hid its solution well, and as we slowly determined what was important and how to apply these pieces, the ah ha moment slowly came into view. We continued to solve, working through this fast paced mystery; eventually making our way to the fantastic ending. We really liked the overall deduction of the who dunnit, (or the “who has done this,” for fans of Captain Raymond Holt,) as it comes together in an engagingly fun way. The climax was excellent as well, presenting us with a congratulations and denouement via another well produced video.

Low Points:

Some of the puzzles in this game are a bit “escape-roomy” in that they don’t quite tie into the theme overly well, taking us out of the immersion somewhat. The puzzles were interesting however, so it is entirely forgivable, but those looking for complete immersion throughout will find these moments a little jarring. We liked the audio soundtrack included as an optional immersion aid, but unfortunately, due to the amount of videos, it didn’t play nicely with hearing the actors as well, so it was paused and unfortunately forgotten about. Some of the portrayals within the game were somewhat hit or miss, but get the point across as needed.

Final Verdict:

CSI: Stranglehold is a great hour or two of mystery solving fun, and I definitely recommend checking it out. Though the difficulty is somewhat higher than that of Sherlock Holmes, it is a great next step for beginners who have completed that game or enthusiasts looking for a bigger challenge! The mystery presented was engaging, and I had a brilliant time working to uncover the identity of The Eastside Strangler! Book your time going toe to toe with a vicious killer here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Panic Room provided our team with a complementary game.

The Panic Room – Sherlock Holmes (Review)

Location: Your home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-6 (from the same or different locations) – we suggest 2-3

Price: £15 ($19.77 at the time of this writing.)



From the Panic Room website:

The year is 1912, the location: London town.

You and your group think yourself to be a top-notch group of detectives and are raring to take on your first big case. What better than a case that Sherlock himself has been trying to solve?

You’ll need your wits about you, a keen eye for detail and don’t forget to take notes!

During your investigation, you will come across quite a few individuals who will hopefully help connect the dots and lead you on the right path. Perhaps you will even be able to catch up with Sherlock and solve the case yourself?

Think fast, look closely, and of course just remember…Don’t Panic!

First Impressions:

It’s been so long since I’ve done a Sherlock-themed puzzle/escape anything! (Or has it? 2020 has been a long decade so far – what is even time?) Not that I haven’t enjoyed the various horror-themed rooms we’ve been playing recently, but I found the return to a classic a breath of relief and was excited to see what the Panic Room had to offer.


Yay Points:

Sherlock Holmes is a great beginner-friendly introduction to the world of puzzling. The style, I think, was very apropos for a Sherlock-themed game. The puzzles were woven well into the storyline, and I really enjoyed how the case unfolded with each step of the way, with each win unlocking the next destination and a new piece of the mystery. I particularly enjoyed that we were able to use different pieces of evidence via embedded materials in the webpages. The interaction with these materials were thankfully smooth to both use and navigate (always appreciate the zoom-in feature and links to images!), and they seemed to have some nice, thoughtful details to them.

Additionally, the overall mechanics of the game play were intuitive and well set-up. It was easy to navigate back and forth between the pages, and we were happy to find that the site saves your progress so that we didn’t have to enter passwords to order to check back with previous pages. We were also pleasantly surprised when we happened upon a secondary way to get you to where you needed to go. A thoughtful use of materials! Optional audio narratives were also available for each story element, which (as it has been documented) we definitely appreciated.

The flow of puzzles we navigated contained a nice progression. Starting off with an easy win, your deductive skills are increasingly called upon as you strive to catch up to Sherlock and solve the case. The game makes it very clear what questions you need to answer and, for the most part, it’s straightforward as to what you need to use and do to solve each conundrum that appears. There were a couple of a-ha moments on my part when I realized what I may have been overthinking though, but then it was smooth sailing from there.


Pondering Points:

Now that I know the answer for the climactic puzzle, I understand how we were supposed to arrive at the correct solution. However, we seemed to get tripped up by a clue that pointed us to different resources and thus a different conclusion than what was intended. I’m not sure if the evidence we focused on was unintentional or a red herring, but it seemed to be a more noticeable signal (to us at least) than what we were supposed to latch onto. Thus, the correct solve ended up being slightly anticlimactic for us, perhaps in large part due to our previous efforts on the erroneous rabbit trail.

While the passwords themselves were typically clear, they were on the longer side, so it might have been nice to be able to have the option to ‘reveal’ what answer you were typing to confirm you were entering it correctly.

Final Verdict:

I would definitely recommend Sherlock Holmes for beginners or enthusiasts who wanted to introduce their friends/family to the puzzling experience. For enthusiasts alone, it’ll definitely be on the easier side, but it’d still likely be a leisurely fun time. I think this was a great starter game before players try one of the Panic Room’s other virtual experiences, CSI: Stranglehold (review coming!) Try your hand at assisting the great Sherlock Holmes here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Panic Room provided our team with a complementary game.

Crack-A-Nut Mysteries – S.O.U.P. (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-2

Price: $87

Everyone loves SOUP!


From the S.O.U.P. Facebook page:

Is your mundane life bringing you down? Are you in a rut and looking for a way to break the monotony? Do the weird, unexplained, less than normal and downright bizarre interest you? If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, WE WANT YOU!


We travel the world over ferreting out ideal candidates to join the ranks of the most esteemed society the world has ever known (. . . well, the world would know if it wasn’t such a well-kept secret!) Aside from a dandy acronym, S.O.U.P. offers intrigue, extensive travel to exotic places, the opportunity to research lost legends, investigate the unknown, and the promise of advancement. And in addition to all that, there is something sinister afoot behind the closed doors at S.O.U.P. headquarters, and you have been nominated to unravel the mystery and bring the culprit to justice.

First Impressions:

After the more narrative based, horror filled experience that was Root of All Evil, I was interested to see how Crack-A-Nut Mysteries would approach a more puzzle focused adventure. With S.O.U.P. having just released, I would soon find out!


High Points:

S.O.U.P.’s game play is divided up into several different assignments, all of which relate to a different supernatural hot spot, and present wildly varying puzzles, all of which are creatively designed and well thought out. All tie into an overall theme, and I really enjoyed how the ending was multi-pronged, allowing for not only induction into the Society itself, but the solving of a great crime against S.O.U.P.! All the assignments were an enjoyable romp, but the first assignment really started things off with a bang! I loved the props that were included within this one, and we really liked how there were many paths you could take with this multi-layered, choose your own adventure style puzzle. The writing was humorous, and really set the stage for the rest of the experience well. The difficulty curve was smooth, and ramped up excellently, leading to some really devious conundrums near the end which took a lot of pondering and connection making, but never strayed into the realm of logical leaps or obtuse challenges. Every assignment was self contained, and it was easy to ensure we knew what items went with what solutions, but the game certainly didn’t hold our hand.

A couple of nice keepsake items, one of which is personalized, are a fantastic addition, and really got my wife excited to try out the game, especially since I had recently asked her to take a photo and wouldn’t tell her what it was for. Other props that were integrated into the puzzling were excellent, with a few that had been aged beautifully in order to capture the look and feel of an ancient artifact. S.O.U.P.’s website is well designed to provide instant feedback on whether your answers for each assignment are correct, and the set up for one of the final meta puzzles is really awesome. Overall, the experience we had with S.O.U.P. was immensely enjoyable, and the run of creative, multi-layered puzzles made for an excellent few hours of solving.

Low Points:

One particular assignment took us a very long time to get. Unfortunately, it ended up being a particular task that you’ll either get, or you won’t, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do to ensure you see what you need to see. It doesn’t help that the answer does not follow some of the previous conventions, so we were trying to find the wrong thing. Luckily, since the alternative was to stare at what we’d gathered until the answer revealed itself, we were able to look up the solution on the hint site. Definitely not as satisfying, but it did save us a lot of time, and allowed us to move on. At first, we did not realize the website was required for verification of answers and to finish up the story, as we thought it was only for hints, per our intro letter. However, as we did need to look up a few hints about halfway through, we realized the site was multi-functional. One of the finale metas was somewhat anticlimactic, resulting in doing some simple math, but luckily the other meta was much more satisfying.


S.O.U.P. was an awesome time, and we really loved the intuitive puzzling, humorous writing, and fantastic ending to the story. The assignments are well thought out, and are intuitive, yet challenging, ensuring that puzzle enthusiasts and new players alike will find a lot to love inside. Crack-A-Nut Mysteries continues to provide premium props and a story that is joy to interact with, and I definitely recommend giving this game a shot! Join the Society for the Observation of Unknown Phenomena here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Crack-A-Nut Mysteries provided a complementary copy.