Support Escape Adventurer!

Hi Everyone!

Just a quick update to thank you for your support over the past 17 months! It’s great to have connected with a lot of you and helped steer you towards a great escape room or at home experience, and we hope to continue providing quality content for a long time! I’ve had a few folks ask me how they can help out, so I’ve added a tip jar! If you feel so inclined, you can leave us a tip through ko-fi.com directly here. Obviously no tips are required, but are always highly appreciated! Content on Escape Adventurer will always be free, and I hope that you’ll continue to visit to enjoy our in-depth reviews.

Thanks again for your support,

Brandon Smith

PS: Recently, I backed the new Unstable Unicorns: Control & Chaos Kickstarter, which is a new version of the fantastic Unstable Unicorns. If you enjoy fast and furious party gameplay, you should check it out. The reason I bring this up is so that I can share the Unicorn that was drawn for me through the Kickstarter, The Escapicorn. Bask in it’s glory:

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11/10 Glorious

The Armchair Detective Company – The Kidnapped Crossworder (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 2-4

Price: $75

Game design is a highly dangerous profession.

Theme:

From The Armchair Detective Company’s website:

Mr. Alfred B. has invented a new game. Eager to show it off, he brings it to his local crossword puzzle enthusiasts’ club. However, the prototype is stolen soon afterwards, and he begins to suspect his fellow club members of foul play. He sets about gathering evidence…only to disappear himself.

This Mysterious Case contains lots of code breaking puzzles (don’t we all have a never-ending secret desire to play with decoder wheels?) and a winding plot with a cadre of secretive characters. It’s up to you to find out who stole the prototype, and the location of its inventor!

First Impressions:

When the box arrived from The Armchair Detective Company, I could already tell this was going to be a special experience! The box itself had an aged look and feel, and even gave off a not unpleasant woody smell, adding to the mystique. I could not wait to crack this one open and give it a go, and once we did, there was just so much to explore!

Mysterious boxes within mysterious boxes!

High Points:

This experience is definitely priced at a premium, but is absolutely worth every penny of the $75 asking price! The beautiful boxes and locks included lend an immersive quality to the game that cannot be beat, and the handcrafted nature of the props included is just amazing. The game is just a joy to interact with on all levels. So many puzzles and clues are included, as well as a plethora of engaging story items that really draw you into the mystery. The game is set up perfectly for multiple players, as it is completely non linear from the start, allowing you go begin puzzling wherever you like! This also allows each player to solve puzzles that play to their strengths and preferences, making this an excellent and highly unique date or board game night activity. So much of this adventure is incredible and tactile, bringing the experience of an escape room into your home in one of the most convincing ways I’ve ever seen.

Most puzzles are some form of code breaking, but the myriad ways that this is done keeps the game flow feeling fresh from start to finish. The threads of each puzzle’s path are intuitive and challenging, eliminating any ambiguity. There really aren’t any hiccups to the flow either; we were constantly working on something new or making narrative connections throughout our time with the game. Overall, the amazing attention to detail, immersive storytelling, and tight puzzling make this just one of the most mind blowing at home experiences currently available on the market!

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Pro tip: Use a big table. This is what the game looked like when we were finished. We are a highly organized people. (Some items shown aren’t part of the game. The PlayStation Vita, for instance.)

Low Points:

We noticed that we did not solve everything once we had reached the ending, so when we did finish, it was a bit of a surprise. We weren’t 100% sure where the conclusion would be, and we used some deductive reasoning since we were under the impression some of the unsolved puzzles would require further locked away items. Luckily, we didn’t have to guess at any point to come to our conclusions, and the puzzles were just as fun to solve later. In total, there were only two of the many puzzles that were left unfinished at the end, so it still absolutely felt like a full experience.

Verdict:

The Kidnapped Crossworder is easily one of the greatest home puzzling adventures money can buy. If you’re looking for a game that combines a thrilling mystery with mind bending enigmas that lead to a great meta-puzzle, you absolutely cannot go wrong with The Armchair Detective Company. I cannot wait to see what comes next from them, as the upcoming larger boxes, (The Druid’s Catacomb and The Star Crossed Scientists,) look like an amazing time! You can order your copy of The Kidnapped Crossworder here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: The Armchair Detective Company provided a complementary reviewer’s copy.

Xscape Factor – Abduction (Review)

Location: Fayetteville, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $26.50 per person

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

I want to believe.

Theme:

On the edge of town there’s a secret government lab, where many disappearances have been said to take place. Curious as to what’s going on, you and your friends have been poking around to attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing persons. Just as you find an unlocked door, one of your friends rushes ahead with reckless abandon, trapping herself and a couple more of your friends in an irradiated zone! Work to save your friends, and uncover the enigmas behind this abandoned facility before it’s too late, and you find yourselves on the back of a milk carton!

First Impressions:

After the high quality of Haunted and Circus of the Damned’s sets, we were excited to see how Xscape Factor handled a multiple room, cooperative escape. We were once again blindfolded, but half our group were taken into the deeper reaches of the lab, while my half were put in the front office. We took off our blindfolds and were disappointed to see the set was actually rather banal. I was sure the curse of the less interesting room had stuck me again as we began our search for clues.

High Points:

If you’re lucky enough to be the group that rushed ahead into the irradiated zone, your tradeoff for possibly glowing for the rest of your life is that you’ll get to do most of the puzzles. I wasn’t personally in this room, but our teammates expressed that it wasn’t much to write home about, really. However, it was more interestingly decorated, and the puzzles seemed a lot more tactile overall, which was disappointing for those of us in the other room. Some of the code breaking was entertaining, and running through alien messages can be an enjoyable past time during this room’s finer moments. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between.

Low Points:

Though the splitting of the group is a fun idea, it seems I always get locked in the less interesting room by some twist of fate. The other room, once we’d freed our teammates from the radiation, was a lot better decorated, and had loads more puzzles. We were assured that the puzzles themselves weren’t all that mind-blowing, but it would’ve been nice to have that much to do in our room as well. On our side of the door, we immediately solved the first cooperative puzzle since we had a basic knowledge of the subject, and as far as we could tell, there weren’t many other cooperative puzzles between the two rooms, or we had just been able to solve them separately. Either way, the one basic design of these types of rooms seemed mostly absent. One of the worst parts about this, was that by the time our teammates were out of their room, everything in there was solved, so there was significantly less to do for our group. At that point, why not just have everyone in the initial area? There were several points at which we needed to flip through random books to obtain clues and parts of codes, which is always underwhelming, and the set design of this experience was so far behind Haunted and The Circus of the Damned that we were really surprised by the simplistic offering. One of our most frustrating puzzles not only was based off a throwaway line in one of the files we found, but also led to our Game Master telling us the answer since the puzzle item we were supposed to use was known to lead to imprecise answers. Blacklights continue to be the cliché they’ve always been, as they are used in “search everywhere because blacklight” puzzles again, which is disappointing because blacklights were used effectively in Haunted. Though some puzzles were more quickly solved using outside knowledge, a particular one relied on it, and was once again based off a throwaway line in a file, with no connective tissue to guide us. There were also quite a few typos in said files, which we originally thought were clues, but later found were just typos when they didn’t amount to anything sensible.

Verdict:

Abduction has some great ideas, but the execution is lacking. Having one group solve half the puzzles while the other half spins their wheels is never fun, and we would’ve liked the room to allow for more involvement and cooperation overall. Fortunately, the room is due to be updated soon with more technology and a brand new game, so I’m optimistic that the next chapter in the story will be on par with Xscape Factor’s other rooms. You can book your time in the lab here.

4/10 (Subpar)

Full Disclosure: Xscape Factor provided Media Discounted tickets for our team.

Xscape Factor – Haunted (Review)

Location: Fayetteville, NC

Players: 2-6 (We recommend 2-4)

Price: $26.50 per person

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Solve the murder. Release the ghost!

Theme:

As a member of the Fayetteville Paranormal Crime Unit, you solved the infamous murder of Mr. Pennylock. Now, however, you’ve been called to return to his foreboding manor to investigate reports that Pennylock’s ghost has been haunting the manor, fueled by anger over the theft of his wife’s prized necklace! You only have an hour to find the necklace and set his soul to rest, otherwise, it will be trapped inside the manor forever!

First Impressions:

From my conversations with enthusiasts from the area, and from speaking with the owner and employees of Xscape Factor, not only is this room “haunted,” but the historical building the business resides in holds a bit of spectral history as well. According to them, they’ve had some strange occurrences pop up here and there, ranging from strange sounds to Game Masters being locked in the rooms at night when trying to reset rooms after the final customers have left. It all helped to set the stage for a spooky escape experience!

High Points:

The room itself was very well set up, with an excellent set design that included dim, flickering lighting, creepy Victorian photos on the wall, and antique looking furniture all around. Unfortunately, 30 seconds into our game, we ran into a freak accident where all the power surged for the whole building, leading us to find the necklace before we were supposed to, spoiling the hiding place for the ending. This, however, was taken care of quickly by the staff, who apologized profusely, then ushered us out and reset the room asap so that we could start again. Game flow worked excellently, and solving the mystery of who stole the necklace was a great meta-puzzle to work towards, and the non-linear nature of most of the room kept the four of us puzzling throughout. We required no clues, which is a testament to the room’s fair design. (Trust me, we usually need clues somewhere!) This isn’t to say the room is easy by any means, it was definitely a challenge, and we had to work through a lot of great conundrums to secure our victory!

Low Points:

The dreaded lockout safe makes a unwelcome return after being absent from our games for a blessedly long time. Per usual, we were so covetous of our 3 precious entries that we didn’t want to put in a certain code we’d found, and we were told we could only confirm a code with the GM one time, so our skittishness cost us a few precious minutes. Really, if a lockout safe is deemed necessary, (and they never are,) checks through the GM should be unlimited for this universal design flaw. There were a lot of laminated papers about, and though it wasn’t the worst thing, it did remove some of the immersion. A late game piece of tech was also pretty finicky, requiring quite a bit more specificity to it’s code than is usual for this type of puzzle. There was also one puzzle that identified a bit of information which required locating and reading a very particular article, which seemed to be overkill, and required an answer that was a fair leap of logic.

Verdict:

The spooky mystery of Haunted is a great mashup of the murder mystery and supernatural themes, with a exciting mix of classic and technological locks to keep players on their toes! Working through Pennylock’s office was a great adventure, requiring teamwork and communication, and I highly recommend giving it a shot, as it was definitely my favorite room at Xscape Factor. You can book your paranormal investigation here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Xscape Factor provided Media Discounted tickets for our team.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Ransom (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Taken

Theme:

From the Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Sasha Millington, daughter of real estate magnate, Warren Bankhead, was kidnapped during a gala celebrating the opening of the Sioux exhibit at the Valley Falls Museum.  A ransom note has been received asking for ten million dollars in exchange for her return. Time is running out.  Discover the kidnapper’s true identity and motive for abducting her before it is too late.

First Impressions:

It seems like almost every time a new Deadbolt Mystery arrives, it has even more puzzles and quality props! From the humble beginnings of the still great Murder in 3B, Hostage exemplifies the evolution of The Deadbolt Mystery Society. Sleek paper props, along with some great tactile items continue to make Deadbolt one of the most visually striking boxes we currently subscribe to!

High Points:

There is a fair amount of code breaking to be enjoyed with Ransom, per Deadbolt’s usual MO, and it’s well integrated into the mystery, but there are a few other logical puzzles to solve and many deductions to make, allowing for a varied experience. Suspect interviews tie excellently into each other and provide a sense of intrigue to the story, slowly bringing together the building blocks of the narrative! While a kidnapping and ransom could be a very dark theme, Deadbolt doesn’t let it get too uncomfortable, keeping the tone mysterious rather than ominous. The side stories crafted help further the investigation in an interesting way, and lead to pertinent revelations about the relationships of the many people surrounding Sasha Millington. The epilogue ties up all the loose ends of the box in a satisfying denouement, explaining motives and backstories in a excellently detailed manner.

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Wouldn’t you like to know where Sasha is?

Low Points:

One interaction breaks immersion by being a strangely ambiguous counting and math puzzle that really doesn’t fit into the story in any way. One main deduction that tied together the story neatly was hidden in a place that, from the past five boxes, we’d felt we were trained to generally ignore, and one of the revelations of the identity of that person wasn’t explained until the epilogue was being read. This led to a fair bit of confusion at the end of an otherwise exciting mystery. The suspect pool for this mystery is nowhere near as exciting as those from past boxes, especially Asylum and Sleight of Hand, so the climax wasn’t quite the revelation we were hoping for, but the game itself was still a tightly crafted experience. The collector’s cards are always nice touch, but this month’s felt as though it could be a very small spoiler for those that care about such things. I don’t, but I know others have a high aversion to anything that could be even the slightest bit spoilery.

Verdict:

Ransom is another solid entry in the case files of The Deadbolt Mystery Society! It’s definitely an excellent jumping in point for those looking to test the waters with a recently archived box, and really shows off how far the Society has come in just a few short months! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS! You can also see the rest of our Deadbolt Mystery Society reviews here!

8/10 (Great)

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