Sleuth Kings – Case 022: The Trouble With Wizards (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Alohomora!

Theme:

From the Sleuth King’s website:

Wizard Con is supposed to be one of the best conventions of the year, but Gordon Falco might disagree – someone used it to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit. A mysterious package that showed up on his doorstep is Gordon’s only hope. The sender is missing, but their offer is clear: they can give Gordon the evidence he needs to prove his innocence. The catch? Sullivan has to find and rescue them, first. Can you help Sullivan work a little magic and find the evidence he needs in order to save two men’s lives?

First Impressions:

Time to hit up a con with Sullivan King! Not the usual kind of con Sullivan deals with, but it’ll still be a lot of fun, and hey, you get a free wand out of the deal! Joking aside, this theme is ripe for interesting game play, and we were definitely enthralled by the colorful clues  included with this box! The art design of Sleuth Kings is so unique, and easily one of the things I absolutely love about each box.

High Points:

Sleuth Kings has been on a roll with the massively creative themes lately, and The Trouble With Wizards brings the crime solving to a local convention! The story is another cool set up, with an original setting coupled with a thrilling crime to create an extremely creative mystery.  The inclusion of a new character hinted at during the epilogue of Case 021, A Book A Day, helps expand the Sleuth Kings Universe further, and presents the opportunity to get to know Sullivan a little better. Wizard Con’s awesome spell book brochure, advertising posters and alcoholic potions set up a convincing group of items for this case, as well as bring a sense of whimsy to an otherwise tense life or death mystery. The clues are laid out in a convincing way, and the game flow is incredibly smooth. Each puzzle contributes part of a meta puzzle through a really excellent online interaction, and we very much enjoyed receiving new pieces of the mystery in this way. Even a certain interaction I usually find rather tedious isn’t too bad due to the way it is gradually presented.

The clues included with this mystery are especially layered, more so than usual, which is absolutely saying something! Everything seemed somewhat separate at the beginning, with only a single mysterious thing tying each one together, but as we solved, new and cleverly hidden connections began to emerge. Bringing all the clues together in this way is very satisfying, and the build towards the meta-puzzle was a fun puzzling mountain to climb. Once we had solved the case, there was a small easter egg that allowed us to continue the experience, utilizing some enigmas that we didn’t originally use during the case, which was a cool twist. This helped optionally fill in the back story, and provided a highly satisfying denouement to the experience.

20190707_1639004902093797540984568.jpg

Yer a wizard, Sully!

Low Points:

We communicated with Sullivan very little during this case, and we really missed the little story breaks that usually accompany an email to Sullivan. They allow for a small respite from puzzling to deliver new story beats, which is a great feature of Sleuth Kings cases. This case felt as though it didn’t have as much build as other cases due to the absence of Sullivan’s jaunts around Dayton or spats with his grandfather when we fed him a new piece of information. This mystery also felt a little easier, and therefore quicker than usual, as one of the main puzzles that takes the most time to solve is a creative, but highly ubiquitous cipher. While it was broken up across the puzzles, keeping us from having to solve too much of it all at once, the cipher did come up a little too much for us at times.

Verdict:

Case 022: The Trouble With Wizards is a great new case that presents some interesting new characters to the meta-story. I’m very interested to see how Sullivan’s relationship with his brother will evolve, especially considering his current investigation into his father’s disappearance. This is definitely an easier case, so it’s a great jumping off point for new Sleuths, but veteran gumshoes will enjoy the story beats that are introduced during the course of this adventure. You can purchase it 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!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings: Case 021 – A Book A Day (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Poor Bear.

Theme:

From the Sleuth King’s website:

Jen Hunker and Sullivan’s mom spent their lives creating a non-profit organization called A Book A Day. Now, the FBI has accused Jen of using the program to smuggle drugs and is threatening to arrest her and shut it down. Sullivan and his grandfather, Samuel, have agreed to work together in order to clear Jen’s name, but even that might not be enough. Unless they’re able to find the real smuggler – and fast – A Book A Day will be destroyed. Can you help Sullivan clear Jen’s name and save the organization that his mom devoted herself to?

First Impressions:

I didn’t quite know what to expect with this box, theme wise, but when we started retrieving the evidence from our Case envelope, I could tell we were in for another awesomely quirky Sleuth Kings case! We received what looked to be some pages from a cute pet themed children’s book (that involved the world’s most put-upon teddy bear,) an adorable bookmark, and some notes and flyers from A Book A Day, all of which peaked our interest. It certainly looked like a great time on the surface, but how did it play? Spoiler alert: It played fantastically.

High Points:

This might just be the cutest Sleuth Kings mystery ever, but it certainly does not skimp on the mystery and puzzles! The difficulty curve is one of the smoothest I’ve seen for the series, starting off with an easy win to start things off, and culminating in some of the most original and exciting puzzles we’ve solved with this subscription yet! The props are used in intuitive and creative ways, and parts of the game we figured were finished came back with even more layered puzzling to do. It was very satisfying to dig so many clues out of these items, and most of them were extremely well hidden until we had uncovered a piece of information that tied everything together. Though we ran through this one a little quicker than usual, it definitely wasn’t because this game was overly simplistic, rather, it just clicked for us through the game flow.

Speaking of the game flow, it kept a great pace throughout, leaving no real lulls or moments where we were at a loss for what to do next. One particular puzzle required a bit more pondering than the others, but the investigation didn’t feel stalled, rather, there was just a bit more sleuthing to do! The storyline for this case is a lot of fun, and Samuel, Sullivan’s grandfather, returns for more crotchety old man antics. Sullivan and Samuel’s interactions are great, and a light hearted way to progress the mystery. There are excellent easter eggs hearkening back to previous cases, as well as some literary ones as well during the Kings’ trip to the library. The climax of the adventure is fantastic, and reveals some information that might expand the Sleuth Kings Universe in the future, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next!

20190621_0913272572042143268117805.jpg

This case is the inspiration for the new book, Luna and Friends Take Down the Drug Smuggling Ring.

Low Points:

One clue requires a passing familiarity with a certain type of cipher in order to complete without the Clue Analysis, I feel. Luckily, we busted that one without the clues since we enjoy the slightly more difficult version, but some players may need to pop over to the Analysis just for this one if they don’t have this familiarity. It’s mostly obvious, but for newer players, it might present a bigger logical leap.

Verdict:

We loved working through Case 021 – A Book A Day, and always enjoy the quirky and splendidly put together themes that Sleuth Kings delivers! I think this one would especially be a great start for new players, as well as a solid entry for veteran Sleuths. I can certainly say you can’t go wrong with this case. You can purchase it 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!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings: Case 020 – Blood PI (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Crime and Crucifixes

Theme:

Rosalyn Neal, star of the hit vampire detective show, Blood PI, is being hounded by a mysterious and sinister stalker, and she’s reached out to Sullivan King to help discover who is behind the increasingly threatening letters she’s been receiving. Before Sullivan can make much headway, Rosalyn is shot during the filming of a new episode and police are working to keep him away from the crime scene! Sure that their prime suspect is being set up, Sullivan enlists the help of Celest St. Clair in order to gain access to the scene and the evidence within. Use the scattered clues to piece together who is behind the shooting before they can strike again!

First Impressions:

Sleuth Kings is always at it’s best when exploring more outlandish themes, and an obsessed fan/wannabe vampire and a vampire detective show, (that I desperately want Netflix to pick up,) are excellent ideas for this case. I absolutely could not wait to see how everything unraveled, so as soon as we had a chance, we jumped on the case!

High Points:

I feel like it isn’t just a coincidence that this case has a fun call back to a previous favorite, Case 013: The Beast Within. Not only does this mystery feel like a spiritual sequel to that case, it is just as extremely well put together and fun to complete! The story is as out of the box and engaging as the blurb promised, and weaves spectacularly through the game flow, with new narrative threads popping up throughout to keep things exciting. Though the case could end up being rather dark based on the theme, the subject matter is handled excellently, keeping things light hearted enough while still presenting the urgency of the matter as you make your way through the clues. The included props are great, and the Blood PI promotional material feels just camp enough to make me wish this show actually existed. The ending was delivered via a nail biter of a climax, and I could not wait to see how things resolved via the epilogue letter.

The game flow itself is superb, with several interlocking puzzles winding through the experience. The difficulty curve works well, building from more up front enigmas and towards more layered and involved interactions as the case evolves. Each step of the way feels significant, and the myriad moments of revelation and clever solutions rewarded our engagement throughout. The way each clue builds upon one another is a hallmark of Sleuth Kings cases, but this one in particular feels especially natural to me, as this adventure felt extra rewarding! My favorite puzzle was a joy to solve, combining tactile interaction with another clue we had uncovered to deliver the reveal of yet another hidden piece of evidence. Overall, this case is really something special.

20190508_1012293540923363100196237.jpg

Low Points:

Unfortunately, there aren’t any actual vampires in the Sleuth Kings Universe and Blood PI isn’t a real show. Woe!

Verdict:

Blood PI is easily the best case Sleuth Kings has created yet! Once again taking a fantastically original premise and melding it with an astoundingly great game flow and colorful cast of characters, this mystery absolutely knocks it out of the park! We recommend this adventure one hundred percent. You can purchase it when it arrives on 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!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Case 019: My Brother’s Reaper (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Always bet on King.

Theme:

Rival Private Investigator John Malvone returns, but this time, instead of seeking to beat Sullivan to the punch, he’s asking for our help. Well, perhaps not “asking” as much as “breaking and entering” and “telling,” but being the altruistic and ultimately curious PI he is, Sullivan is willing to assist. Malvone’s brother was killed in the line of duty during his work as a cop, but he suspects it wasn’t the accident the police department has chalked it up to be. He suspects this goes all the way to the local Moretti Crime Family, and he’s determined to take them down in retribution. There’s a small window to do so, however, as the Morettis aren’t known for their inattention to detail or gentle hand when it comes to outsiders meddling in their business!

First Impressions:

After our latest showdown with the mysterious organization responsible for Sullivan’s father’s disappearance, it was time to get back to the day to day business of Sleuth Kings. Only this time, we were greeted with a letter from one of our known rivals, John Malvone! An excellent twist to get things going, the adventure only becomes more exciting from there!

High Points:

After an receiving our briefing from Malvone, we began to unravel the meaning of the many excellent Moretti Gaming props that were the centerpiece of this experience. From the start, the mystery really fires on all cylinders, and doesn’t let up until the conclusion. The initial puzzle is ingenious in it’s elegance, and I really enjoyed the hugely satisfying ah ha moment it delivered. This led smoothly in to the next clue, and each subsequent puzzle built upon the next with a extremely rewarding difficulty curve that kept things challenging without becoming vague or poorly clued. The layouts of each prop and puzzle present themselves superbly, and look convincing without giving away their secrets willingly. The layers of puzzling packed into each bit is amazing, and I really think this is one of the most tightly layered experiences that Sleuth Kings has come up with yet!

The story is fantastic, and the mystery is full of easter eggs and callbacks to previous cases, tying in to the overall universe nicely. Veterans of the series will love how this case pulls from older capers, bringing back interesting characters and delivering an experience that is wholly grounded in the Sleuth Kings Universe, while still being a fresh adventure to engage with. Everything is still accessible, however, so new players need not worry about getting their hands on older boxes before they can fully enjoy this one. Sullivan’s interactions with Malvone are humorously written, and provide great levity to the overarching revenge story being told. By the end, the sometimes rival becomes yet another great, and multifaceted character that we look forward to seeing more from in future Sleuth Kings cases!

20190424_1049526751229667528093898.jpg

All the glitz and glamour of a Mafioso casino!

Low Points:

My only real issue with this box was the strange red herring we came across during the latter part our investigation. Usually, everything within a Sleuth Kings box is important, especially those pieces that stand out, but there was one specific item that seemed like a fairly obvious clue, but didn’t bear fruit. It was a weird side trail we got caught up in that we couldn’t muster any meaning from. Otherwise, the whole case was tightly plotted and amazing!

Verdict:

My Brother’s Reaper is one of the best cases Sleuth Kings has put out yet, and a prime example of how their product has continued to improve every month! We loved this case, and absolutely think detectives new and old will too. Absolutely give this one a try when it is added to 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!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Isaac Case 004 (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Searching through the ashes

Theme:

After figuring out the identity of the mysterious informant Sullivan has been working with for almost a year, it’s time to return to the mystery of the gang known only as Cinder. Sullivan has enlisted your help in breaking into a laptop stolen from the gang’s hideout, but you’ll need to break several codes in order to figure out how to access the information hidden on it, which will hopefully reveal something about where Isaac has gone. Work quick, though, since the gang knows their property has gone missing, and they don’t exactly take kindly to people who steal from them!

First Impressions:

It’s time for another meta-case from Sleuth Kings! Every four cases, we’ve received a bonus case that ties into the disappearance of Sullivan’s dad, Isaac, which is always exciting! We love getting another case to solve in between the standard monthly cases, and the value this adds to the subscription cannot be ignored. Either way, we were absolutely ready to find out what new mysteries were in store with this next installment to the meta-story!

20190411_1100495888759185901912620.jpg

I would highly recommend that Sleuth Kings’ open a Chik N’ Pete. They have the best mascot ever.

High Points:

This is definitely the most dense and challenging bonus case we’ve received yet! The multiple levels between code cracking and various puzzles was great, and we really enjoyed peeling back the layers of each individual clue in order to progress further into the story. Though this case mostly consisted of breaking one particular code, the code itself is actually quite fascinating, and each puzzle that leads towards it’s eventual solving is satisfying, though it does absolutely make you work for it! The difficulty isn’t strained or frustrating however, and it allows for even veteran solvers to feel a major sense of accomplishment when the final conundrum is completed! The game flows well, and each clue follows into the next well, with some of the most engaging codes we’ve come across yet, which kept us sleuthing well into the night.

After three previous cases, we are definitely engaged with this ongoing mystery, and look forward to seeing it through quarterly, and this case absolutely continues to deliver story wise. The climax truly raises the stakes, ending on the usual cliffhanger, but with a sense of urgency that will keep us on our toes until the next bonus case arrives! Sleuth Kings is nothing if not a master at making you care for the characters they’ve created, and it’s no mistake since they’ve got the most compelling cast of any subscription box. Like any good mystery, I absolutely can’t help but want to know what happens next, but for now, we’ll have to wait and see!

Low Points:

Some of the code breaking included can begin to feel like a solo job, with not much to do once the busy work of filling in the letters begins. Though the presentation of this new cipher is excellent, it may present a short bottleneck where any additional players might want to refresh their beverages. Obviously, this isn’t an issue if you prefer to take on this mystery as a lone wolf. There was also a reference to something being on the epilogue letter that wasn’t actually there, which caused us some slight confusion. One prop was really cool, but it felt like a missed opportunity due to the majority of its contents having little relevance to the case.

Verdict:

While you can’t purchase this case outright, I absolutely recommend subscribing to Sleuth Kings so that you (eventually) will receive this one! The whole run of bonus cases is an amazing value added to your subscription, and isn’t just a throwaway benefit, these stories are truly compelling! You can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! And if you’re really wanting to get to a bonus case quickly, you can order and solve past cases from the Sleuth Kings archive! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box. (Duh.)