Sleuth Kings – Case 033: Death of a Stuntman (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Sullest just can’t catch a break…

Theme:

From the Sleuth Kings website:

John Malvone is dead and his killer is ready to strike again. What was supposed to be a harmless murder mystery dinner has turned into a deadly party. Nobody knows what the killer wants, but one thing is clear: if they don’t play his game, Sullivan and Celest are next. Can you help Sullivan and Celest put a stop to the twisted party before they end up dead?

First Impressions:

Though this is a Sullest case, furthering the whirlwind romance of Sullivan and Celest that began with Case 011: Midnight Secrets, I’m taking back over the reigns for reviewing this one from Kara, which is a shock I’m sure! I’ve enjoyed the evolving meta story between these two, and am glad to see that they still can’t manage to stay out of trouble, even during their pending nuptials!

High Points:

We always enjoy Sullest cases, and Death of a Stuntman is no exception. While a self contained mystery on its own, it furthers the interweaving story line, and gives some interesting updates on the characters; one especially shocking! The story was great, including some fantastic characterization, as well as some new revelations on a particular, sometimes contentious relationship, and the ending presents a great twist! In fact, some veteran players will no doubt enjoy some of the subtle foreshadowing that precedes the ultimate climax. This case does a great job of “inviting” players to the murder mystery/engagement party while still presenting an interesting, high stakes case to solve. The props are great, and fit in with the theme of a murder mystery dinner party well, and the tactile nature helps players feel more involved with the story. Certain bits of the game that generally remain constant from case to case are excellently changed up in order to fit this game’s more personal theme, and touches like these are always exciting to see.

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The puzzles are fantastic, and I really enjoyed how the game started off with a somewhat easy, but supremely creative, win. The solution was elegant, and involved a little bit of thinking outside the box to determine the correct way of looking at things, leading to a great ah ha moment to get the ball rolling, from there, the game flow is mostly smooth, with one speed bump that was compounded by our overthinking, which I’ll talk about more in a minute. As we worked through the clues and uncovered new bits of information, we were able to intuitively put together the pieces as we moved through the linear game flow, and though we short circuited one part, we do see what that particular part of the game was going for. The difficulty curve is good, and directs into some really interesting challenges towards the end, and I think even the most hardened Sleuth Kings veterans will find an excellent challenge within this case.

Low Points:

One clue is a bit unclear, leading us to jump directly over a specific step. This led to us solving one of the final puzzles the hardest way possible, and while we were able to crack that particular nut, it would’ve been somewhat easier had the cluing been clearer, directing us along the game path. This is partially our fault, as we probably should’ve realized that this particular level of difficulty probably wasn’t intended, but it does give us dubious bragging rights for solving this one on an unintended hardcore mode! We went back to the puzzle we skipped in order to see what we had missed, and the set up for this logic based puzzle was somewhat confusing, which may have exacerbated things somewhat. One particular puzzle will look familiar to veteran Sleuth Kings detectives, but we haven’t seen this one in a while, and it is tweaked slightly to keep things relatively fresh, so it is a minor point.

Verdict:

The wedding bells for Sullivan and Celest are ringing louder and louder, but the mysteries don’t let up! We loved working through this case’s creative puzzles and uncovering the excellent story within. Though long time sleuths will get the most out of the meta story, this is still a great mystery for newcomers, and I recommend it fully. 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!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Case 032: Two Ring Circus (Review)

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

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Are those… bells?

Theme:

From the Sleuth Kings website:

Sullivan’s office has been ransacked and one thing is clear – the Moretti crime family is behind the break-in. The thieves were after a diamond and found one – just not the one they wanted. Instead, they stole a wedding ring that once belonged to Sullivan’s late mother. Worse, before they could sell the ring, they managed to lose it. Can you help Sullivan race against the Moretti family to get his mother’s ring back?

First Impressions:

FYI, Though I’ve attempted to be vague, there may be some potential, unintended (but hopefully harmless) meta-spoilers. Read at your own risk. 🙂

While waiting for Brandon to set up the box and email Sullivan, I decided to take a quick skim of the “Investigation Report”. I immediately noticed “ring” and “keep this from Celeste” and became SUPER excited about the not-so-subtle implications! I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but do humbly propose to all Sullest fans: do this box ASAP as this is an ultra-important case! 😊

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Brace yourselves, this is the most important case you’ll have solved to date!

High Points:

This was such a fun and light-hearted story! It’s pretty obvious that I particularly enjoy the Sullest boxes and am (perhaps unusually) very invested in their relationship, so it’s no surprise that this is one of my favorite boxes of late.

Sleuth Kings is fantastic at story continuity as well as character consistency. It always gives us some chuckles to see Sullivan’s consistent character among the cases – in this case, his hilarious attempt at being mysterious, (for a detective, he’s not the best at keeping secrets – at least from us.) A seemingly small thing, but I was also happy to see that Celeste’s contribution to the case, (via her hint system,) was updated to reflect how she can still be involved while still being kept in the dark. I was also delighted to be instantly gratified with the epilogue for this case – and that’s all I’m going to say about that. ^_^

Also, it’s very amusing to me to think of the big bad crime family of the case figuring out how to code their secret messages into such family friendly material. We inadvertently guessed what the answer to the final solution of the case would be as a joke, and were pleased when that turned out to be right!

Storyline aside, the box itself was a fun and smooth experience. It was probably one of the fastest boxes we’ve solved. Overall, I really appreciated how the puzzles were set up. One puzzle in particular was structured in an extremely helpful way. When we first started solving it, I was concerned that there would be multiple possible answers, leading to a guess and check situation. However, I was happy to have worried for nothing!

The box was enhanced by its cute and well-designed props. In addition to being visually exciting, it also made it easy to find and link together props and clues. Even though some clues and solutions were exclusive to a single prop, they inter-wove with the other material as the puzzles built upon each other in pretty straightforward and linear fashion. It’s amazing how multi-purposeful everything can be.

Pondering Points:

We did end up bypassing one of the puzzle interactions by accident, and it was very clear to us that we missed something. After we solved the case, we used Celeste’s hint system to help us backtrack and figure out what was supposed to happen. It was certainly an interesting puzzle and subtle by nature. I’m not sure if this means the puzzle was hackable and/or the clues weren’t strong enough for us, (though honestly, we could’ve misinterpreted the puzzle/clues completely.) However, I suppose this can also be a good sign, (in a way,) in that clearly the solution makes sense! In retrospect, I do think we would have easily solved it the right way had we looked at the Clue Analysis or Celeste’s website though, and would highly recommend them if you’re stuck.

While we found the puzzles to be overall fairly easy, it’s very possible the clues to the final puzzle need to be stronger or contain more direct hints for newer players who don’t have a puzzling background, (I certainly would’ve never thought of it before playing these boxes with Brandon.) The method of solving this puzzle is likely either to be something you know or don’t know. Seasoned players may find the in-puzzle hints to be enough, but newer players may need to utilize the hint system more or possibly do some internet searching.

Verdict:

This box is one of my personal Sleuth Kings favorites, and I would highly recommend it. I think it’s a great introduction to puzzling for newer players, and would also be a fun adventure for veteran sleuths. I’m also super stoked to see what’s next for Sullest! 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!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

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!

Theme:

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.

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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.

Verdict:

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.

 

 

 

Sleuth Kings: Case 030 – Black Magic (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

I put a spell on you… and now you’re mine!

Theme:

From the Sleuth Kings website:

Mina Yen, a Magician’s Assistant, was murdered on stage during a performance. Although it’s clear that the illusion was sabotaged, the police aren’t sure who is responsible. Sullivan has been hired to clear the lead suspect’s name, but he’s not convinced that the man is innocent. If he can’t find evidence that will help put the real murderer away – and fast – he’s afraid it’s only a matter of time before they kill again. Can you help Sullivan cut through the smoke and mirrors to bring a killer to justice?

First Impressions:

The last magic focused Sleuth Kings box came years ago, and it was a really fun experience that wove it’s tale of betrayal and revenge well. Black Magic returns us to the world of illusion, and I was excited to compare how things have changed between these two cases!

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Good to see our old client Abraca-Debra doing well for herself!

High Points:

For the most part, Black Magic flows between its many puzzles extremely well, and there was only one major choke point we came across. Once we worked that one out, everything chugged along rather smoothly from there. The experience was highly intuitive from start to finish, and while we found it to be one of the easier boxes we’ve received recently, it still had a fair amount of challenge and provided some satisfying moments of revelation as we deduced how clues linked together with each other. Most of the puzzles involved one form of code breaking or another, but each code was cleverly implemented, and at no point did the process feel repetitive or overlong. One thing I could definitely say about this mystery is that though it is compact, it is very dense, with loads of puzzling packed into every item. The multiple layers within many of the clues continue to be a beloved hallmark of Sleuth Kings cases for us, and they are beautifully implemented for the full course of this adventure.

I love the art style of Sleuth Kings cases, and this one is no different. There are several drawings depicting rather brutal accidents, and yet everything remains amusingly cute, keeping what is a fairly dark theme from feeling overwhelming, and providing a lightheartedness that you don’t regularly find in murder mysteries. Props were high quality, and for fun, I did a comparison from the early days of Case 004, Abraca-Debra and it’s great to see how Sleuth Kings has improved and upped the quality of their props. I enjoyed how many of the props tied into the theme and story very well, and really loved how some of the major props came together during one particular puzzle. The story is good, and the characters really help flesh out the narrative as it develops. We loved how interesting Magus was as a client, and the twist that came at the climax of the box was excellent.

Low Points:

One of the clues to the meta puzzle is worded somewhat vaguely, allowing for a couple possible answers to feel valid. One tweak to specify more directly what is being discussed would help a lot to ensure that the true answer is the only one that makes sense. This was also a somewhat easier box, so veteran sleuths may run through it a bit quicker. The whole experience was solid, but it didn’t really stand out quite as much as previous cases, but we may have just been getting used to crazed mascot killers and kidnappers who dress up like Krampus.

Verdict:

Black Magic is a solid adventure, and a great introduction to the Sleuth Kings universe for new detectives. It may trend towards the easier side for veteran solvers, but the story and clever puzzling are still very much worth checking out! I definitely recommend picking this one up, and subscribing today. 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!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

 

Sleuth Kings – Case 029: Love Hurts (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

…but hear me out, maybe we just let her kill our main competitor?

Theme:

From the Sleuth Kings website:

John Malvone broke his ex-girlfriend’s heart, and now she intends to break him. The problem is, he’s not sure which ex is coming after him. John has survived three attempts on his life so far, but his luck won’t hold out forever. If he doesn’t figure out who wants him dead – and soon – he won’t survive his spiteful lover’s next attack. Can you help John stop his ex before she decides he can’t live without her?

First Impressions:

Last year’s Valentine’s case, The Cupid Killer, was one of the most exciting games of the year, and finally gave us some long desired movement on the Sullest St. King relationship front! This year, we’re travelling a parallel and reversed road as we try to determine which of John Malvone’s many, many, (many, many, many, etc.,) exes is trying to kill him. Sounds fun, and if it’s as quirky as the usual Sleuth King’s case, I’m absolutely here for it.

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High Points:

As I suspected, Love Hurts is a funny and immediately engaging case to solve. All the tidbits about John Malvone’s tumultuous love life and weird reasons for breaking up with the poor women unlucky enough to date him keep things light hearted and fun. I swear, Sleuth Kings is great at ensuring even attempted murder can stay light and hilarious while still delivering a great story and fully realized characters. Speaking of characters, the return of the gruff, rough edged John Malvone is excellent, and his character is somehow both endearing and annoyingly unaware of his own faults, making for some great interactions. I love how this character, who was originally our nemesis in Fashionably Late, has grown (a little, let’s not give him too much credit,) and become a some time collaborator with us and (begrudgingly,) Sullivan. The whole theme ties well into Valentine’s and the climax of the story is fantastic, with an appropriate epilogue to tie all the loose ends together.

On the puzzle front, things are very tightly woven together, placed into a game flow that works smoothly over several layers of puzzling, and brings the threads together into a fantastic meta puzzle or two that we really enjoyed. The method for use of the initial meta puzzle provides extremely good feedback on whether the answer is correct, and is a great way to mark progress within the mystery. Once solved, it becomes part of the even larger meta, tying all the puzzling threads together in an extremely satisfying way. Though the game mostly consists of code breaking, it never becomes tiresome, as there are no endless lines of codes to decipher, and things remain varied enough to keep the focus on the fast paced flow of puzzling. The adventure is incredibly intuitive, with subtle sign posting that ensures that players remain on the right track as long as they are aware of where to look. This consistency coupled with the quality clues delivers one of the best Sleuth Kings experiences to date!

Low Points:

The only thing I’d say is a low point for this box is that it was an easy, very quick solve for us, taking about an hour total for an experienced couple. However, the story is a lot of fun, and even experienced players are going to enjoy the storyline.

Verdict:

Love Hurts is a fantastic case, and though it is a little on the easier side, it was a blast to work through, and an awesome introduction to the Sleuth Kings universe for new detectives! Veteran players may speed through the experience, but the clever puzzling and story are absolutely worth it! I whole heartedly recommend checking this Valentine’s themed case out with your loved one as soon as possible. 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!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.