The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Death at the Lamplight Theatre (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Lights Out

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The air has a chilly nip to it. Snow is falling lightly. The holidays are almost here. The Lamplight Theatre is in the middle of a run of performances of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Reviews have been good, and ticket sales have been even better. Yet, things in Valley Falls never stay happy and festive for very long. When Victor Day, the lead actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the performance, is found dead, the show’s future is called into question. Evidence points to one of the members of the cast and crew being responsible. Can you solve the case of “Death at The Lamplight Theatre?”

First Impressions:

Having more than one Deadbolt mystery to work on in a month is always a gift! Death at the Lamplight Theatre came at a fantastic time, as I had just finished running through Sleight of Hand, one of Deadbolt’s previous mysteries to take place at the eponymous Theatre. Valley Falls sure knows how to make sure their entire town eventually becomes haunted…

High Points:

The thing I immediately noticed about Death at the Lamplight Theatre is that it was a return to the previous style of Deadbolt boxes. While newer games have been more linear overall, with envelopes to open at certain points, Lamplight gives players pretty much everything up front, allowing for a more challenging, non-linear experience. Though I do enjoy the new style of Deadbolt, it was really nice to return to the deductive, chaotic (in a good way!) style of sleuthing! Though there was definitely a jump in the challenge level from the last few boxes we’ve worked through, all of the puzzles were very intuitive for the most part. Items connected well with each other, and once we’d reached the satisfying ah ha moments we were searching for, everything clicked into place excellently. I really enjoyed the Christmas theme, and it permeated the whole experience well. There is a huge variety of puzzle types, and something for everyone to work on at all times, leaving no dead points or areas where we were stuck on one particular thing.

As always, it’s fun to get to explore a place that was a smaller part of an old case, and as Deadbolt continues to develop Valley Falls, we find ourselves excited to see locales we’d heard mentioned previously explored more in depth, as was the case with the recent Museum Nocturnus. The impetus behind all the puzzles are well explained, and the motives of the suspects and supporting characters are all well fleshed out, and brilliant to explore. A few of the shadier characters were a lot of fun to interact with, and Deadbolt is always at their best when the people of Valley Falls are allowed to shine. There are a few points where puzzles are multilayered, and a bit of extra sleuthing is required to progress, which I feel adds a lot to the experience, and ensures that solvers get a great deal of puzzling for their dollar!

Low Points:

One particular puzzle felt a little vague, with the clue seeming to point toward a particular deduction, but the actual connection was something completely different. Though most all puzzles were intuitive, one involved a small leap of logic. Another was a standard math puzzle we’ve seen frequently, so that may be hit or miss for some veteran solvers. All of these are relatively minor things, however, and didn’t really affect our enjoyment of this box much.

Verdict:

Death at the Lamplight Theatre is a fantastic one off mystery that ties into the holiday theme well, but also works great as a box to enjoy anytime! I really loved the return to the original Deadbolt formula, as well as the increased challenge of this box. I highly recommend picking it up as it becomes available, and subscribing to the Society in the mean time! 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.

Daydream Adventures – A Witchy Christmas

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

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-8 (We recommend 4-5 players)

Price: Starting at $110 CAD for up to 4 players

Time to Escape: 90 minutes

Theme:

From the Daydream Adventures’ website:

Hilda, a mischievous witch, lives in a wondrous forest. There was a time when she had tricks and traps for humans sneaking into her home. After nearly a year of humans hiding away, Hilda has become very bored and lonesome, so she casted her magic to travel through a portal to find the humans.

The lights and snow, the joy and delight…it was all so frightful and magical. Although she is yet to understand, this witch has discovered Christmas. Hilda wants it all to herself. Back in the safety of her forest, Hilda seeks help from the forest creatures and spirits. Spirits of the forest, such as yourself, are very wise. Will you help this witch unravel the curiosities of Christmas?

First Impressions

Sequel to The Witch’s Forest? Heck yes, sign me up! I was glad to find that our team had the same Hilda from before (is there only one game master for Hilda?) leading us again on this adventure. I always love this twist on the holidays, and was excited to see how Hilda would make it her own. Back to Dreamlands!

Yay Points

Once again, Hilda set such a fun and great tone from the beginning. She took the time to greet each one of us individually before the game took off, and her banter was always on point. Her personality shined through, providing a unique experience. Her charisma and ability for improv is one of my favorite aspects, as she can really tailor the experience for each group. In addition, Hilda was able to make the logistics of our virtual experience easier. She started the game with a tour around the house, providing a smooth way to include puzzle introductions and places of interest. And there were small actions she took to help nudge us without overdoing it, such as stepping back to adjust the camera view when we needed to focus on a wider picture or the subtle suggestions she provided while describing something.

As a sequel, A Witchy Christmas made excellent use of the previous set. Naturally, this provided various easter eggs, but I was also impressed by how they were able to recycle some props and use them in a completely new way for the current game. (Also, hope this isn’t a spoiler, but I was super excited for the gnomes again!). The new puzzle and story elements that Daydream Adventures devised were very in-theme as Hilda learned about Christmas, and included some interesting surprises along the way. There was a particular animation aspect I especially enjoyed, and I found Hilda’s name for this character hilarious and adorable. The puzzles were interesting, and provided a lot of opportunities for interaction and audience choice/participation.

With The Witch’s Forest, I was impressed with the specific webpages associated with each puzzle or event that occurred. These pages had included relevant information about scenarios, as well as videos depicting what occurs when we solved puzzles, interactions with other in-game characters, and the magic Hilda was seeing around her. Not only were videos included for A Witchy Christmas, but also they were integrated directly into our Zoom experience without us even having to click on a different Zoom video to see it. Actually, our overall need to click on things was decreased as we didn’t have to enter passwords, and instead were able to focus on the visuals presented through Hilda’s camera. However, Daydream Adventures did thoughtfully sent us pictures of different puzzle stimuli so we could take a closer look without the camera having to zoom in or move back and forth.

Pondering Points

One puzzle in particular was a little confusing for me, though the other players in my team seemed to understand it just fine. Related to this though, there was a clue that I felt like could’ve been emphasized a little more, or at least lingered on a little longer as it wasn’t initially obvious to us that it was supposed to clue us into something.

There was one or two more puzzles where I feel like we could’ve benefited from pictures of the clues. We discussed this with the game masters after the game though, so this might be changed now!

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for an entertaining Christmas-themed virtual escape room, then you should definitely check out A Witchy Christmas! Don’t take my word for it though, you can see for yourself and book them here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Daydream Adventures provided our team with a complementary game.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society Mini-Mystery – Sweet Tooth (Mini-Review)

Kara’s Note: This mini-review was brought to you by me! 😀

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $12.99 for this Mini Mystery

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Investigate the cutthroat world of baking in our newest mini-mystery as a famous food critic is found murdered after planning a visit to Valley Falls to review its finest culinary establishments.

Note: This is a mystery that is half the size of our normal boxes and takes about half the amount of time to complete. The mini will be delivered in an envelope, not a box.

First Impressions

Like many others during this pandemic, I have watched a whole bunch of The Great British Bake Off and caught the baking bug. So I was super excited to dive into Sweet Tooth, and was definitely happy to find there to be a recipe included!

Yay Points

Though shorter than the usual Deadbolt boxes, Sweet Tooth met the high standards we’ve come to expect with their full-length mysteries. I’m impressed with the creativity that went into everything that filled the envelope. Incorporating their story and theme into each problem, clue, and prop, Sweet Tooth delivered us an intuitive puzzle experience along with an interesting conundrum. And, like Deadbolt’s other boxes, there was definitely more than meets the eye with this mystery. We were pleasantly surprised at how things unfolded and tied together from the beginning.

This experience seemed a little easier in difficulty level, but still very enjoyable. The clues were straightforward and we were able to tie different clues together very seamlessly. It was very intuitive to figure out the solution process for each puzzle as well. And, as always, the different personalities that come through the various pieces of evidence (even with minor characters) are always entertaining. Though, as PSA, the candy theme made me hungry, so if you fall into easy cravings like me, definitely keep some chocolate on hand when you solve this box!

Pondering Points

One aspect of the mystery can be deduced early on in the experience. My partner and I had differing opinions on how we felt about this, so there may be some players who enjoy catching this where others may feel like it makes some other puzzles unnecessary. Regardless, I don’t think it detracts from the overall experience.

Final Verdict

As a mini-mystery, Sweet Tooth is a great introduction into the world of Valley Falls and is a great sampler of the types of boxes you can expect with the Deadbolt Mystery Society. Check it out for yourself 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!

8.5/10 (Great)

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

Mystery Mansion Regina – D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 3-10 (We recommend 4-5 players)

Price: $25 CAD per person (About $19.73 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 75 minutes

It ain’t Cruella’s shop, that’s for sure.

Theme:

From the Mystery Mansion Regina website:

Local paranormal Youtuber, Estelle Jacobs, was searching for her missing boyfriend, Alex. Shortly after visiting D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe, Estelle vanished without a trace. It’s time to venture inside the Curio Shoppe through a live video feed and find out the truth about Estelle’s disappearance…

We recommend playing Night Terrors before playing this room for story continuity.

First Impressions:

Mystery Mansion Regina is one of the escape room companies out there who we recognize as doing an amazing job adapting to virtual play. They’ve created rooms that are specifically built from the ground up to be online experiences, and because of this, their games shine as few others can. It is always a massive treat to explore one of their rooms, and we were very pleased to be returning for D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe!

High Points:

As I mentioned, this room is tailor made for online groups. While the room can be played live, the online version has been adjusted for online play, and ties into their amazing Night Terrors room beautifully. It was brilliant to return to the world of The Sleepy Man, and with this room ending on an exciting cliff hanger, I can’t wait to see what comes next! Per usual, the acting from our avatar and special guests was fun and immersive, and they tailored their performance to our shenanigans. I always appreciate versatile GMs, especially those that don’t mind playing along with us, and Mystery Mansion Regina’s GMing is top-notch. The room itself was wonderfully spooky, using lighting and sound excellently in order to create a dynamic, creepy atmosphere for us to puzzle in from the safety of our own homes. The entire space feels lived in, and there was so much more than what meets the eye hidden in the dark crevices of the Curio Shoppe. The props involved were devilishly fun, and just soaking in the ambiance and investigating all the weird and wonderful items in the Shoppe was hugely entertaining. All this comes together with a seamless integration into Telescape to translate the game into one of the best remote experiences we’ve played!

Puzzles are fantastic, and have been tweaked from the original room to fit the modified theme, ensuring nothing feels out of place. Some of my favorite enigmas within play with the remote nature of the game fantastically, and I really enjoy seeing how creative the room can get. Mystery Mansion Regina really does an amazing job crafting interactions that work beautifully within the virtual space, and provide an experience that not only feels like an authentic escape room adventure, but is also a one of a kind mystery you won’t find elsewhere! The game is densely packed with puzzling, and there is more than enough included to keep an experienced team busy, ensuring players will receive a good value for the cost. Intuitive and smoothly flowing, D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe absolutely ups the ante for Mystery Mansion Regina’s virtual experiences, and ranks up there with some of our favorite rooms of all time!

Low Points:

Only one puzzle didn’t work flawlessly, and though we felt it was a little unwieldly, we like the idea overall. It definitely tries to play with the game’s tools in a way that is married well to the theme, but it just doesn’t quite work perfectly. A slight adjustment, though, and this is a flawless room!

Verdict:

D’Vile Curio Shoppe is one of those games that I couldn’t wait to play, was 100% enthralled with during, and would recommend to anyone! As always, Mystery Mansion Regina has done a beautiful job creating a one of a kind experience that combines excellent storytelling, creative puzzling, and masterful GMing. You should absolutely check this, and their other brilliant rooms out here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Mystery Mansion Regina provided our team with a complementary game.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Spider (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Not so Itsy Bitsy

Theme:

After a seemingly quiet start to the winter season, Valley Falls is once again rocked with a series of five “accidental” deaths. Cards bearing the images of spiders are found in the pockets of each corpse, indicating something more sinister must be going on. Soon, a letter is sent to the police chief from someone calling themselves The Spider. It’s up to you and the Will Street Detective Agency to bring yet another serial killer to justice, and attempt to bring peace to Valley Falls once more!

First Impressions:

35 boxes in, and The Deadbolt Mystery Society is still going strong! It’s been amazing to see how far these boxes have come in the past few years, and we are always still so excited to see a new one hit our doorstep! After a run of three more spooky boxes, it was fun to get back to the usual Valley Falls murder cases, and this one definitely kept us on our toes!

High Points:

The Deadbolt Mystery Society always comes up with interesting story lines to accompany their murder mysteries, and The Spider is no exception. The murderers of Valley Falls are no slouches when it comes to getting creative with their killings, and their methods and motives are always extremely interesting. From the enigmatic start to the incredibly dramatic epilogue, The Spider definitely brings some great twists and turns to the proceedings, jumping to places we definitely did not expect the story to go! For those who enjoy wordplay, the punning is strong with this box as well.

The box is, for the most part, pretty linear, though there are a few points at which there are a couple puzzles to work on simultaneously. For my wife and I, this certainly didn’t cause any issues, however, as all the puzzles were workable with two sleuths. Paring down our suspect pool using the clues and puzzles was clear and smooth, and the puzzles tied into the mystery convincingly, as everything was woven into the theme well. On part in particular was fantastic, and the method to move on was hidden right in plain sight, waiting for us to determine it’s significance and reveal an excellent new secret! The difficulty curve worked well, with things starting out with a few easy wins, and ramping up the challenge as we moved through the experience. The props were excellent, with one in particular that was a lot of fun to play around with, and we found the puzzles and code breaking to be varied and intuitive.

Low Points:

One puzzle had an error with the color, which caused some initial confusion, but was fairly easy to overcome, and was most likely an error on the printer’s side. For enthusiasts looking for a challenge, The Spider is probably the most straightforward of recent Deadbolt Mystery Society boxes, and while we enjoyed it, it was definitely a quicker solve for us. The characters were a little flat in this adventure, and while I enjoyed the mystery, the suspects weren’t as memorable as some previous cases.

Verdict:

The Spider is a great starter box for newcomers to The Deadbolt Mystery Society, as it is a fun, beginner friendly mystery with plenty of awesome puzzles, as well as a twisty story sure to keep players guessing! Deadbolt veterans will still enjoy the game, however, as though it is more straightforward, it is still and excellent time, and provides a fun challenge for the holidays! 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!

8.5/10 (Great)

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