Sleuth Kings – Case 034: Moretti’s Curse (Review)

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

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Theme:

From the Sleuth Kings website:

Giovanni Moretti – head of an infamous crime family – has been cursed. The threats say he’ll die if he doesn’t abandon his organization and leave town, but Moretti isn’t going down without a fight. Although Sullivan would love to see the Moretti crime family dismantled, he has no choice but to help Giovanni. Unless he can figure out who is behind the curse – and fast – a gang war is going to break out. Can you help Sullivan break the curse before innocent people are caught in its crossfire?

First Impressions

It’s been so long since our last Sleuth King’s case! Very exciting to jump back in this universe, and solving puzzles for – I mean, helping – Sullivan with his cases.

Yay Points

Leave it to Sleuth Kings to take serious topics like crime families and curses and turn it into a fun and relatively family friendly puzzling experience. This case was a great reintroduction back into the foray of the Sleuth Kings world, with one of its long running villains in need of help.

“Moretti’s Curse” contained some nice creative puzzling. For the most part, the clues were clear, yet well hidden, and it’s always appreciated how the solutions are relevant and tie into the next step of the journey. The case started out with an easier win and evolved into a slightly more layered solving experience. We liked how the method of solving one puzzle in particular, and really enjoyed the penultimate meta-puzzle as well. The set-up and placement of clues throughout the case was good, and it provided for some great ah-ha moments when we realized how things clicked together.

Labeling different puzzles as clues provides for a great linear structure, but even without it, the gatekeeping of materials was effective. In particular, I enjoyed being able to put together one of the more tactile puzzles once we found the key to solving it (though I had a very strange spelling-challenge moment, much to the disbelief of my partner). (Editor’s Note: To clarify, there was a specific word that we were uncovering, and once I determined what that word was, she was adamant it was spelled differently. Hilarity ensued.)

As can always be expected, the illustrations accompanying the different puzzles were cute, and the token at the end was absolutely charming. I feel like this was probably due to an unintentional jostling of the in-transit handling, but a little piece became slightly loose. But, we found we could “re-fasten” it back to the token in a different way and the end result made it even more adorable.

Pondering Points

Although we enjoyed the intended solving methods, there were a couple points that were less intuitive and created sticking points. It wasn’t too hard to adjust to the correct path once we figured it out, but we may have unintentionally forced through to the answer (or part of the answer) and then backtracked to solve it the correct way.

It might be nice if the presentation of one of the later clues had more meaning. While there was another clue that sets you on the right path, the “meaningless” order of the clue threw me off for a bit until we were able to put the other pieces together.

There are two puzzles whose answers had letters transposed. While it wasn’t hard to figure out what it was supposed to say, it wasn’t clear if these answers were mistakenly written that way.

Verdict

Though there could be some fine tuning, “Moretti’s Curse” was a solid case with an interesting plot and enjoyable puzzles. In terms of difficulty, I would say it’s of a beginner-intermediate level. 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)

The Curious Correspondence Club – Chapter IV: The Moonlight Escapade (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $19.95 Monthly, $179.00 Yearly

Join the Club!

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After escaping in a hot air balloon from our mysterious pursuers in Chapter III, we traveled with the Tinker to a campsite that we suspected held another of the strange items we’ve been tracking across the world. Unfortunately, that campsite is inhabited by the same organization that’s been chasing us this whole time! It’ll take some sneakiness, quick thinking, and most importantly, clever gadgetry in order to come away successful!

First Impressions:

Super special thanks to the folks at The Curious Correspondence Club for sending along another copy of Chapter IV when our original was lost in the mail. They were quick to respond and mail this one out when I notified them, and their customer service was brilliant! This ended up being a Tarantino-esque prequel for us, since we received Chapter V first and couldn’t not solve it immediately, but nothing was lost in the experience, in fact, it was a lot of fun to find out what bridged the gap between Chapters III and V.

High Points:

The Curious Correspondence Club (henceforth CCC due to laziness,) creates some of the most amazingly original experiences out there for the absolute best price! Even though more expensive experiences may have fancier props, the sheer originality of The CCC cannot be beat! In fact, putting together the paper craft items included in every envelope is one of the most entertaining parts, especially when these items are so intuitive and well crafted. Chapter IV includes some of the best items thus far, and figuring out how they work is so amazingly satisfying. Not one piece of this grand puzzle is left unused, and every single thing is important. It is so fantastic how tight the game play is, while still ensuring a dense, multilayered puzzling experience. The adventure is mostly linear, though everything is given to players at the start, so connections can begin to be made, even before you have fully overcome the previous conundrums, which ensures that you’re never one hundred percent bottlenecked into one place. So many of the items included are also multi functional, popping up again later on, and it is brilliant to watch as one thing becomes another, making the game a tactile delight!

The story is fantastically written, and while the brunt of it is delivered via the opening text and excellent closing video, bits of narrative are always hidden within the game itself, ensuring that everything is woven together well, rather than shifting back and forth between story and puzzle. The world building and characterization employed within The CCC’s games is second to none at this price point, and I can say that without reservation. My favorite thing about these games is that there is never a point at which I think, yes, I’ve seen this sort of thing before. Each and every puzzle is a revelation, and presents an original puzzling experience that I’ve never seen before. I can always rely on them to deliver something wholly new with each Chapter! And the amazing thing is that they seem to top themselves every single time. Though we thought this Chapter was probably the easiest so far, it was still an excellent challenge and required a lot of outside the box thinking to complete!

Low Points:

It is generally very difficult to find any fault with The Curious Correspondence Club, and Chapter IV is no exception! Our experience was, as always, brilliant, but there were a few points at which we think the instructions could be tightened up ever so slightly to ensure that no vagueness remains. Otherwise, this episode was a flawless romp!

Verdict:

Chapter IV of The Curious Correspondence Club was impressive, and it’s always so exciting to see what sorts of paper craft props and immensely original puzzling will be included with each installment! One of the few subscriptions that can combine a well told story with immersive puzzling without sacrificing the quality of either, this subscription remains one of my most anticipated every single month! I highly recommend subscribing, and you can join The Curious Correspondence Club here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

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

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Inheritance (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Ah, nothing like a family get together!

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From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The McClains are one of the oldest and richest families in Valley Falls. So when the current patriarch of the family, Edison McClain, asks for your help and is willing to make it worth your time, how can you say no? Edison was planning on naming his heir and the next head of the family. So he called together all of the McClains and proposed a game as a last test to see the worthiness of those he deemed had potential. But someone in the family had other ideas. During the family get-together, the McClain’s oldest and most prized possession, a medallion bearing the household’s coat of arms, was stolen. This 500-year-old family heirloom is believed by the family to be the reason for their wealth and success throughout the years. Without the medallion Edison can’t name his heir, and he fears the family will fall into ruin. Will you be able to find the thief and the medallion? Can you recover The Inheritance?

First Impressions:

What stuck out when we first heard about the The Inheritance was that it involved no murders, at least up front! An interesting evolution for the Will Street Detective Agency, we’d be investigating a theft, and not just any theft, one that involves a possibly magic medallion! We absolutely couldn’t pass that up, and got ourselves to the McClain mansion as soon as we could!

High Points:

Deadbolt was definitely trying out something new with their first non-murder mystery, and I can safely say that they knocked it out of the park with The Inheritance! (I’m sure the residents of Valley Falls appreciate the month long reprieve as well.) The box is incredibly dense, filled with loads of fantastic puzzling, and layered interactions that make it a meaty experience. There is a little less linearity than some recent boxes, allowing a little more wiggle room to the investigation, which we really loved, but there was just enough gatekeeping to ensure that a excellent story could still be told. The characters are interesting, and we had a great time determining their places in the family, while eliminating them from suspicion one by one. A feature we adored from Framed is back, allowing us to explore the McClains’ palatial estate, or at least a part of it, and one of the interactions here was really unexpected! One of the best logic puzzles I’ve ever seen implemented within a mystery box starts the game off with a bang, and every step of the way from there on builds on the adventure fantastically!

A few of the puzzles are really tactile, and I always love it when boxes reach beyond the usual puzzles to deliver something more hands on. There is still some great code breaking included as well, and it is done in clever new ways to ensure we aren’t cracking yet another Caesar cipher. Nothing inside the box was extraneous, and it all built towards furthering the story in new and unexpected ways. Speaking of, the climax of the box was not only a great twist, but I love how everything played out by the time the mystery was done! Cluing throughout the box was brilliantly woven into the theme, and the deductive clues were all intuitive without being too obvious. The Inheritance is easily one of my Top 5 favorite Deadbolt boxes so far, and if the rest of Deadbolt’s 2021 slate is this good, we are in for a great year!

Low Points:

Nothing stood out to me as a low point for this box, the dense puzzling and smooth game flow just worked beautifully for us!

Verdict:

Deadbolt does an amazing job of trying new and interesting mechanics and themes with their boxes, and The Inheritance is one of their most finely crafted experiences yet! I highly recommend getting your hands on one as soon as you can, and subscribing today! 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!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

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

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?

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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.