The Conundrum Box – Sleight of Hand (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $30 per box

Nothing up my sleeves…

Theme:

From The Conundrum Box website:

In the early 1920s there were a few major names in magic, Houdini, Kellar, Thurston, and Professor Conundrum. Tragically, the Professor perished during one of his most famous acts in 1922. Foreseeing his own demise, he left his widow with a set of instructions so that she may communicate with him in the spirit world a year after his passing. Now, Lady Conundrum is asking for your help to solve the Professor’s last great magical mystery so that she can once again speak with her departed love. Puzzle your way through a 1920s magician themed escape room in a box to unlock the final secrets of this master of sleight of hand!

First Impressions:

Magic based themes should be more ubiquitous, but it seems like it’s a fairly rare. I have enjoyed a few of these sorts of games before, so I was excited to see The Conundrum Box was developing their own take on the genre!

High Points:

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about The Conundrum Box is how they keep the immersion high by ensuring that the props they include integrate well within the theme and story of the box. The story follows an enigmatic magician’s death and the efforts of his wife to contact him through a seance, but first, you’ll have to unravel the enigmas the dearly departed left behind! (My wife has notified me that I am not allowed to do this should I precede her to the great beyond. You can imagine my great disappointment.) The fantastic optional Spotify soundtracks that are part of the extras also contribute greatly to helping players get into the world of their games, and Sleight of Hand contains their most brilliant curation yet. The game itself flows well, and directs players though a somewhat linear run of puzzles, but some sections present a handful of puzzles that all open a particular door, or tie into a meta puzzle in order to move things forward. I really enjoyed the set that contributed to the meta puzzle, and would love to see this basic design continued in future Conundrum Boxes!

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The puzzles seem to be even more layered than usual, and each new run of challenges hide some fantastic moments of revelation within. I particularly enjoyed the wide variety of puzzling that allowed both my wife and I to contribute when connections to be made or particular puzzle types appealed to our personal puzzling proficiencies and preferences. This box also allows for most of its challenges to be solved as a team, and there was never a moment where once of us was decoding and the other just had to wait around for the solve so that we could move forward. Puzzles and solutions are concretely identified, and the requirements for solving are made known during each step of the game, ensuring there is no vagary or unintentional red herrings to throw us off. This ensures a smoothness to the difficulty curve, and that the conundrums themselves are challenging without frustration.

Low Points:

There are a few points where you can skip over puzzles if you’re somewhat good at Wheel of Fortune. While this may not be a low point for some, I mention it because we were able to make progress without solving one puzzle at all. We still went back to solve it for the review, but some may be disappointed if a puzzle gets left out this way. One particular prop did not line up like it was supposed to while we were solving. We were able to make it work, but it was unnecessarily fiddly due to the size differences. I spoke with the designers however, and this should be a non-issue going forward with re-prints of this box.  A few puzzles we were able to solve without strictly using the path intended by the designers; a tighter method of ensuring these aren’t hackable would probably lead to more satisfying solving, as we short circuited a few of the ah ha moments by accident.

Verdict:

Sleight of Hand is a great new Conundrum Box, and the touches of magic and great puzzling help elevate the experience and ensure the box oozes with mystical personality! It’s a lot of fun to see what sort of different historically based themes The Conundrum Box is able to come up with while still adding in a great amount of variety to the subscription. It’s also fantastic to see the beginnings of a meta-story growing within recent boxes, and I’m interested to see where things go from here. I absolutely recommend checking this one out, and think it’s a great game for new players and veterans alike. 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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