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.

The Conundrum Box – Sleepy Hollow Part 3: The Headless Horseman

Kara’s Note: This review comes to you from me!

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $30 per box

Theme:

From The Conundrum Box website:

SAVE THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND SAVE YOURSELF FROM THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN

This three part series takes place during American Revolution and afterwards. General Washington’s life is in danger! He has tasked you to help stop the most recent assassination plot. Your leads have led you to the small village of Sleepy Hollow where you meet the townsfolk, and soon discover their dark secrets. The second and third adventures in this season get weirder and darker.

First Impressions:

As the last box in the Sleepy Hollow series, I was excited to see how the story would end. Given the interesting twist and cliff-hanger of Part 2, there’s no telling where this one would lead!

Yay Points:

The story drops you in the middle of a predicament, and it’s not long before you’re able to escape and get some clarity on the situation. You are soon tasked with multiple sub-goals to help you toward your larger goal, and fortunately, you’re provided with a document to keep track of each one you’ve achieved. This is immensely helpful since this box is jam-packed (in a good way!) with puzzles of varying difficulty levels and a lot of satisfying solves.

The clues interacted with each other in many interesting ways. In particular, there was one set of deceivingly simple clues that played a helpful role in a couple of the puzzles, and we really enjoyed deciphering them. We had some good lightbulb moments when making connections, and also some ‘ohhhh’ moments when catching ourselves overthinking. On a potentially unrelated note, if you’re like us, please remember to look on the front and back of everything. 😀

It was pretty clear what we needed from Parts 1 and 2 to help us solve some of the puzzles, with a lot of good callbacks to them. (Side note: Though it’s taken me 3 boxes to finally learn, I will also be a little better at notetaking when I make a solve or notice something in a box series that doesn’t seem to be used in the current box.) I also really liked how one set of clues built upon a prop from a previous box to make for a new interaction, and more tactile players will benefit by having another figure to help you visualize this puzzle.

In the previous box, I noted how one of the color puzzles was tricky as I had a hard time telling some of the colors apart. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t an issue in this box!

As with all The Conundrum boxes, we really appreciate the incremental hint system that the website provides. It’s really helpful in making sure you’re on the right track, and also helps you figure out how solve it so you can learn and understand the process.

Pondering Points:

While my husband and I both agreed that this box started and ended great, the middle can be a little rough for players who don’t enjoy longer process puzzles. (Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Kara for having much more patience than I for process puzzles. My disdain for them has been well documented.) One of the puzzles involved a challenge that I found satisfying to solve, but can definitely be an exhausting experience for many players to repeat the process so many times (especially since even if you know what to do, it’s not always an easy find).

There was also one puzzle that I really relied on the hint system to help fill in the blanks on what I need to do with it to make the solve. I may have missed it, but perhaps a little more direction in the puzzle would be helpful.

We liked how one puzzle gave us an easy/hard option to choose from. However, we were a little disappointed when we found out that none of our possible solutions to the hard puzzle worked because one of the clues seemed to contradict the accepted answer (though, giving a shout-out to the hint system for instant-gratification to help us figure this out). This should hopefully be an easy fix, though.

Verdict:

This box had a lot of great puzzles that were fun to solve, though there were a couple longer ones that may be a hit or miss with players. It certainly was an interesting end to the series, and provided a surprising foreshadowing of a future box. Subscribe to The Conundrum Box here! You can get $5 off your first box with our Promo Code ERA5OFF!

7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: The Conundrum Box provided a complementary review copy.