Sleuth Kings – Case 203: Monster Madness Pt. 3 – The Cure (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

The Monster Mash

Theme:

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.

First Impressions:

The third installment in Sleuth King’s first long form series has arrived, and it’s time for zombies to take the spotlight! I have really enjoyed this wild and weird theme, and couldn’t wait to see where last month’s cliffhanger picked up! With Sullest hanging in the balance, the stakes were high!

High Points:

Sleuth Kings has done a brilliant job of tying together a longer term story rather than the usual one shots, and I’m very glad to say that their excellent characterization and world building fits perfectly within this new style of case. While overall the experience stays mostly the same, mechanically, having a longer term story allows us to get more invested with the narrative, and has us looking forward to what comes next even more than usual. It reminds me of the special series in which Sullivan was searching for his father, a group of cases that had us itching for the next part of the story every three months. I definitely think this method of case delivery has been a success, and look forward to future multi month cases. Case 203 in particular ties up the cliffhanger from last month excellently, which is good, because my wife was starting to get worried about her ongoing Sullest shipping, but doesn’t let us off the hook too easily, as there’s quite a bit of puzzling to be done before we can breathe a sigh of relief! The climax caps things off well, and not only sets up the finale, but delivers a bonus puzzle to keep things rolling along. I always love getting an unexpected puzzle, and this one is no pushover.

The puzzles themselves are overall very good, and generally intuitive, so don’t be like us and over think them. They’re not overly obvious, and do require some thinking, but if you’re starting to build a conspiracy theory board, you might be on the wrong track. The props are great, and continue to provide some fun items to keep as mementos, though if we ever play certain cases again, we’ll have to remember to scour our fridge or display shelves to make sure we have everything. I really loved the ideas behind the puzzles, as well as how they integrated into the story, and one particular character was a lot of fun to investigate. Sleuth Kings are masters at delivering a light hearted story along with a great puzzle flow full of logical, but mind bending enigmas!

Low Points:

One puzzle points towards a pattern, but it needs another hint to pinpoint exactly what pattern that is. We used some extra information to solve this one, and unfortunately, though we were able to deduce some sort of pattern, it wasn’t the most correct pattern. I could definitely understand the workings from the back end, but a mite bit more refinement will ensure this one only has a singular answer. A couple of puzzles within this case will feel a bit familiar to long term sleuths, so these interactions may be somewhat easier for the experienced.

Verdict:

Case 203 is a great continuation of the Monster Madness story line, and we are anxiously waiting for the epic conclusion this October! I highly recommend picking up this series, as it is a fun, multilayered run of puzzles and fun mystery, and you can never go wrong with Sleuth Kings. 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 202: Monster Madness Pt. 2 – DraculArt (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

I will not apologize for Art.

Theme:

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’ new format started out with a strange and interesting foray into investigating a group of kidnappers who proclaimed themselves to be aliens, leaving off with a cliffhanger to keep things mysterious. This time, a group of art thieves has struck, but are strangely only interested in artifacts pertaining to “vampire culture.” Seems like an oddly similar string of thematic crimes has struck Dayton, and only Sullivan King can put a stop to it, with our help, of course!

High Points:

So far the themes of Monster Madness have been weird and wonderful, and I loved the vampire based art heist being carried out during this case. The DraculArt exhibits sounds like the absolute best sort of art exhibition, and the promotional materials included within our case not only integrate into the puzzles brilliantly, but do an excellent job of world building as well. After speaking with the designer, he noted that “the line between goth and cheesy” was thinner than he had guessed, but I think he struck just the right balance to make the art direction of the whole case dark and moody without crossing over into goofiness. The story itself is self contained, but ties into the previous case as some of the mysterious strands begin to tie themselves together through the narrative. Everything slowly built until we were hit by one of the most shocking plot twists we’ve come across in a Sleuth Kings case paying off all the set up from the first two cases in spades! Everything capped off well, and though we ended off with another cliff hanger, the case wrapped up satisfyingly.

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The game flows well, per usual, and despite a small logical speed bump we came across during the second half of the game, everything was immediately intuitive. We appreciated the difficulty curve, which started with some quick challenges, but ramped up into some difficult, but immediately engaging conundrums that were a pleasure to solve. The creativity and variety of the puzzles also ensured that the experience remained fresh for the entire play time. I especially enjoyed some tactile puzzling that was included at the end of the case, which utilized some pieces of evidence I had not expected to be used in quite the way they were! The meta puzzle for this case was well implemented, with a little bit of subtle cluing, and I really liked how it tied another of the long running Sleuth Kings characters into the mystery!

Low Points:

One particular clue is something that folks will either get right away because it is something they’ve done before, or will need a hint to get things going. There may be a few folks in between, but it is a very specific cipher. A few of the codebreaking points in this box lend themselves a little more towards solo play, and one of us had to wait after we figured out the method of solving while the other finished up the process of decoding. One of the clues in the later game is a bit of a logical leap, and needs just a bit more cluing to ensure it isn’t too vague.

Verdict:

After Case 201, we were interested to see what would happen next, but this case truly finished off with us completely invested in knowing how this story continues, and ultimately finishes up! I have a few theories about what’s going on, but knowing Sleuth Kings, when the big reveal comes, I’ll be thrown for a loop. I definitely recommend picking this one up after working through Case 201, as the blend of engaging story telling and clever puzzling is to die for! 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.