The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Old and Hidden Secret (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Can you keep a secret?

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The Ambrosia Hotel is a Valley Falls historical landmark and the scene of an unsolved murder from the 1930’s. Local millionaire Harlan McAllister has purchased the hotel and spent the past 6 months restoring it. A week before the Grand Reopening he has invited a series of well-known Valley Falls personalities who all have historical ties to the hotel including famed mystery author Rosemary Clark (last seen in The Dark and Stormy Night). The night’s events are proceeding as planned until one of the guests, Sinclair LeCompt, doesn’t show up for dinner. After checking his room, they find that LeCompt’s door is chained from the inside. Once the chain is cut and access to the room is gained, LeCompt’s body is found. He has been stabbed through the heart. But how is such a thing possible? The only one of the guests with an airtight alibi is Rosemary Clark. After the Will Street Detective Agency is brought in to help with the case, they enlist her assistance with this locked-room mystery. Can you help Rosemary Clark and The Will Street Detective Agency solve the mystery of The Old and Hidden Secret?

First Impressions:

The Old and Hidden Secret is a sequel of sorts to The Dark and Stormy Night, my current reigning favorite Deadbolt mystery! The return of Rosemary Clark and the complex mysteries that always follow her is a welcome surprise, and we couldn’t wait to delve into this locked door murder!

High Points:

A new inclusion for this box was a card that promised a soundtrack to accompany the game! While the soundtrack was much shorter than the experience, we appreciated the addition, and thought it set the tone well. I also loved how narratively based this mystery was, and how after solving each portion of the game, we were presented with new revelations that not only enlightened us regarding the modern day murder, but the shady dealings of our cast of suspects, as well as the hotel’s torrid past. Rosemary’s commentary and… interesting cosplay decision add to the fun as well, and we were always happy to receive some wisdom from the famed mystery writer!

We really loved how tactile many of the puzzles were, with bits and bobs that helped us visualize the puzzles. A favorite was much like chess, and required a bit of logical thinking to get us to where we needed to be. The great part was that with this puzzle, there were a few paths to take, and we could tackle them in a lot of different ways. We ultimately organized them by levels of complexity, and went from there, which provided a very satisfying solve, and helped us develop more advanced plans as we went. A few of the puzzles are very meaty, with multiple layers to complete before they are completely solved, which is always a lot of fun. Another favorite puzzle is an early stage one that reminded us of Clue, and heightened the level of intrigue quite a bit! This one also had implications for the rest of the story, adding to the narrative as well as the puzzling experience. Overall, The Old and Hidden Secret provided a moderate challenge that included intuitive solves, a great theme, and creative puzzling throughout!

Low Points:

There was a slight typo that had us wondering if we were missing an item from our box, but a quick check of the inventory page helped ease our worries. This box felt somewhat less dense than other mysteries, with a more linear presentation and therefore fewer items to compare and connect. I sometimes miss the chaotic brilliance of previous mysteries, where we’d sort through loads of evidence and make the connections as we went. While this set up is still enjoyable, and somewhat cleaner, I have really enjoyed those games that hearken back to those days. One particular prop was cool, but the prop itself felt a little dirty, with a lot of dust that was included within it.

Verdict:

The Old and Hidden Secret is a welcome return to the mystery stylings of Rosemary Clark, as well as an introduction to a brand new Valley Falls locale that truly fits into this enigmatic town! We had an awesome time putting together the solution, and absolutely recommend this game to new players and veterans alike! 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 (Excellent)

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

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.

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.

The Curious Correspondence Club – Chapter III: The Tinker’s Trinket (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $19.95 Monthly, $179.00 Yearly

Join the Club!

Theme:

From the Curious Correspondence Club website:

Navigate the treasures that litter the walls of the Tinker’s Workshop and perhaps become the first to discover a long lost secret?

First Impressions:

As I’m writing this, I not only am reflecting on the amazing experience The Curious Correspondence Club has provided thus far, but am full of anticipation for Chapter IV. Spoiler alert, this game was brilliant, possibly their best thus far!

High Points:

I know I’ve said it twice before, but The Curious Correspondence Club continually blows my mind with how incredibly dense their experiences are, as well as how much they can do with props that are mostly paper based. These small envelopes provide such amazing challenges, and are well worth the cost of admission, as they tend to take us a good 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete. I love how many of the main props involved are used multiple times, shifting and containing new secrets as we move along the puzzling path. It not only allows for more economical packaging, but ensures that every item is absolutely filled to the brim with mystery! There was loads of tactile puzzling within this envelope, and every time we put together a new item in order to begin decoding, these interestingly designed props worked flawlessly. The manipulation of these paper based mechanisms was always smooth, and it is brilliant to see how amazingly well thought out these moments are. The game flow works fantastically, and runs along a mostly linear path, yet still provides enough to do for a small group that no one is going to feel left out at any point. There are a few great meta puzzles involved as well, and the connections between each are intuitive, but not spelled out completely, allowing for some supremely excellent ah ha moments once everything clicks into place. One in particular involved a somewhat innocuous puzzle, which we completed, but had no idea what to do with next, but when we finally discovered it’s significance, we were incredibly proud of our deduction.

The ongoing story line of The Curious Correspondence Club continues to wow, and I love how the twists and turns take us to an entirely new place each month. This month’s jaunt to a quiet old tinker’s shop is an interesting tonal shift from Chapter II, but a not unwelcome one. The cozy confines of the shop are a interesting shift from the more macro natures of the first couple chapters, and during the solving of this mystery, the whole experience feels more micro, as if we were working on the delicate gears of the included (paper) pocket watch itself. The puzzling, story, and nature of this game fits the theme so beautifully, and it is clear that the designers are masters of the genre, weaving all the disparate threads of the puzzle experience into a truly amazing adventure.

Low Points:

One particular point in the game includes a very intuitive moment, but we were second guessing ourselves due to the difficulty we had in performing the tactile interaction that we were sure came next. Though it definitely helped to keep us from performing the action too soon, making this action easier to perform would definitely prevent confusion. Some of the decoding is a bit misleading due to how the spacing works. This isn’t actively called out, so when working on this mystery, if you feel like you have the right method of decoding, keep at it, and it will probably become clear.

Verdict:

The Curious Correspondence Club continues to impress, with a Chapter III that blew our expectations out of the water! This is definitely one of the top puzzle subscriptions available right now, and I only wish I had the next chapter right now, as the original puzzling and mysterious story cannot be beat! Though these are more challenging experiences that I think enthusiasts will enjoy the most, a well implemented hint system will ensure that more casual puzzlers are not frustrated. I highly recommend subscribing, and you can join The Curious Correspondence Club here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: The Curious Correspondence Club provided a complementary envelope.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Lair (Review)

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

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Nightingale Lane is set off the main road and difficult to see from the highway. In other words, it’s a perfect spot for secrets. When a courier for Coyote Parcel Service needs a signature for the envelope he is supposed to deliver to 148 Nightingale Lane, he peeks through the window in hopes of getting the owner’s attention. What he sees is a room covered in blood-soaked plastic. Could there be a logical explanation for such a sinister sight? Is it possible that this isn’t what it looks like? Or has he stumbled upon the lair of a madman who has managed to keep to the shadows and out of the public eye? Explore the house on Nightingale Lane and find out what’s really been going on there.

First Impressions

I’m not sure why but I kept reading this box’s title as “Liar” instead of “Lair”. To be fair, “Liar” could be at least some sort of adjacent, related title for this box (as well as just many other boxes) so I feel like technically I wasn’t super off. Anyways! On a super, totally un-related note, what’s up with horror themes and teeth?

Yay Points

As can often be expected from the creative team at Deadbolt, Lair contained a cool and creepy story with interesting plot surprises. I really enjoyed the story-related a-ha realizations we experienced, hinted at by various clues on the way. In particular, it was a clever touch the way we were given the key to solving the final mystery and how it fit (or didn’t fit) in with the killer’s plan.

As always, the box contained a huge assortment of puzzles for us to play through. We really enjoyed how story elements emerge as various answers are unlocked, as well as how this contributed to the smooth flow of the game. There were some cool props and story facets in particular that not only made the experience more directed, but also created a more thrilling impetus behind working towards and getting through the next step. 

While all the props were neat, I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that we were (finally?) provided a thorough map of Valley Falls (or at least a good portion of it). I kind of forget that this is a “normal”, functioning (fictional) town given the sheer number of serial killers, crime rings, and just pervasive issues they seem to have. The map itself was an interesting prop and veteran Deadbolt subscribers will definitely appreciate the callbacks to previous mysteries. There were also a couple of new interesting landmarks introduced in this game, at least one of which we wouldn’t be surprised if it were re-visited in future boxes.

The killer of this game definitely had an interesting personality, and we kind of got a Collector-like vibe. Could there be a sequel in the works? At the very least, I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this box helped create a foundation for later mysteries!

Pondering Points

There was one puzzle in particular that was a bit ambiguous for us in figuring out how to apply the directions we were given. While we knew what we were supposed to do, we ended up spending a bit of time guessing and checking our solution for this puzzle.

Overall though, the puzzles themselves were good. Compared to other Deadbolt boxes, they seemed a little simpler overall, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. The box was still an enjoyable experience!

Final Verdict

The Lair provided a really suspenseful and intriguing mystery experience! I think this box would be friendly for more advanced beginning sleuths, but definitely 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!

8/10 (Great)

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