Sleuth Kings – Case 201: Monster Madness Pt. 1 – Abduction (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

They did the Mash. They did the Monster Mash!


From the Sleuth Kings website:

Sullivan King had only heard whispers about a new criminal group – until their reign of terror made things personal for him.

The group – filled with self-proclaimed zombies, vampires, and other monsters – has its hand in everything from selling drugs to abducting people. Although they have police baffled, Sullivan is sure of one thing: he’s going to do whatever it takes to stop them.

Can you help Sullivan uncover the group’s monstrous secret and bring them to justice before they hurt someone else?

First Impressions:

Sleuth Kings has made a slight adjustment to their subscription model, starting with this case. Abduction starts off a new set of four cases that will tie into an over arching mystery, while still remaining a stand alone mystery itself. I’m always interested in longer term mysteries and meta-narratives, so I was excited to see what was new with this case!

High Points:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sleuth Kings may have changed up the subscription model, but the general set up of the box itself has largely remained the same subscription we’ve gotten to know and have loved for the past few years. That being said, while this box works excellently as a stand alone mystery, there are still a few good cliff hangers left over by the time the current mystery is solved, and I can’t wait to see what sort of crazy high jinks initiate the proceedings of the next case in the series. I’m voting for Zombie Ghost Vampires… from space! The story line for this mystery is well written, and I love that Sleuth Kings continues to come up with light hearted, yet completely wild story lines for us to investigate. The fact that the kidnappers are part of this weird alien conspiracy theory network, (not a spoiler, it’s pretty clear from the start,) makes me immediately want to know more about them and their motivations, and the tidbits that are shared through the clues provided are fantastic. Especially their super handy, 90s teen magazine quiz! (I’m not even kidding. There is a quiz, it is hilariously written, and we took a break in the middle of the game to take it. Totally worth it.)


The puzzles for this box start out really strong, and we really enjoyed how well they fit together with each other. Though we did run into somewhat of a road block about halfway through, once we had overcome it, the game settled back into the usual, fantastic flow. All the puzzles integrate excellently into the story, and each new item is more excellent than the last! Especially, as can be seen above, the bumper sticker included. I kind of wish it came with two so I could put one on my review journal and keep the other one with the box! Abduction, more than other cases, has several clues that are just plain fun to read, and some of my favorite puzzles have some truly hilarious writing included. The design of each clue and prop is superb, and, as always, I love how they layer atop one another to create some really satisfying solves. To top everything off, the epilogue is great, and provides a tidy ending to the story, while keeping the door open for more monstrous investigations! It also includes my favorite ending gift of any case thus far.

Low Points:

While the mystery starts out really strong, things get very muddled around the halfway point. There was somewhat of a dearth of cluing during a particular puzzle which had us casting about, trying to find a foothold in one of the clues, but having quite a bit of trouble due to the ambiguity of the wordings. Once we had it solved, it made a lot more sense, but we really had to work for it as the hints provided weren’t quite as directed as we had hoped they would be. While we eventually got there, some tighter cluing and more direct hints would have taken a fair bit of the frustration out of the process. One puzzle in particular will be familiar to long term players, and those veterans will know immediately what to do, taking a little bit of the challenge out, but we haven’t seen this sort of puzzle in a long while, so it isn’t that low of a point for us, more of a heads up for veteran sleuths. (I myself was actually really excited when I saw the telltale prop!)


Abduction starts off strong, but can be a bit difficult to parse before finishing up with an interesting climax. We did enjoy the case overall, however, and are interested to see where the Monster Madness saga takes us next! It’s no secret that I loved Blood P.I. and The Haunting, so I’m hoping for Vampires and Ghosts next! 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.

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.


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.


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.