Sleuth Kings – Case 004: Abraca-Debra (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

It’s an older case, but it checks out, sir.

Theme:

Debra Hartfield and Rich Daughtry were once lovers and partners in Rich’s hugely popular magic show. Now, though, they’ve gone through an explosive breakup, and both parties aren’t exactly on speaking terms, to put it mildly. Rich went missing recently, and after the discovery of some pretty damning evidence, Debra is the main suspect in the police’s investigation! Desperate to prove her innocence, she has come to Sullivan, and though he is suspicious, something doesn’t pass the sniff test on this one. He reluctantly agrees to help, but if you cannot find out what really happened to Rich’s body, it’ll be curtains for Abraca-Debra!

First Impressions:

A few months ago, I was scanning the Sleuth Kings Archives to see what sort of cases we missed out on before our subscription began. It should be no surprise that a case titled “Abraca-Debra” instantly caught my eye! What could be more interesting than a punny Magical Mystery Murder? Though it was an older case, I had to see what sorts of great puzzles would be included with this highly exciting theme!

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That’s uh… way more blood than usual.

High Points:

Even though this is a previous case, all the hallmarks of a great Sleuth Kings adventure are there! Fantastic props, gloriously clever puzzles, and a fiendishly devious crime to solve! One thing I haven’t mentioned before is I do like that within almost every case so far, we have received a photograph of the main players. It’s a small touch, but really helps bring the story to life. The case weaves an excellent story of a bitter love triangle, full of betrayal and fantastic twists to uncover. Emails with Sullivan are great, as usual, and contain some bits of comic relief along the way; adding some subtle clues to the story that helped us piece everything together. The case flows flawlessly, with every part of the puzzle thread adding to the mystery. Each step along the way is presented without too much explanation, and figuring out what each clue is trying to say beyond the first glance is always immensely rewarding. It’s definitely clear that even as far back as Case 004, no one could cook up as immersive a mystery as Sleuth Kings!

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Debra sent along this magical card to blow our minds!

Low Points:

One puzzle had a bit of a red herring included, which was difficult to identify as such until we had stared at it for a good while. Though we understood the reason for it’s inclusion, a slight hint as to why that section would be useless would’ve been nice since we had pretty much everything else solved. This case was overall a bit simpler than current ones, which didn’t really take away from the experience as a whole, but could be a turn off for veteran Sleuth Kings.

Verdict:

One of the great features of Sleuth Kings is the ability to visit their archive and purchase older cases for the same price as the monthly subscription, allowing customers to catch up on Sullivan’s exploits on their own time, or to experience cases you might’ve otherwise missed out on (or have read about on your favorite review site!) I can certainly say that as a fan of the Sleuth Kings universe, I’m glad I was able to receive and enjoy this case months later, and think you will too! Abraca-Debra is not only a fantastic name for the case, but a splendidly crafted adventure worth checking out! As always, if you’re looking for a puzzling mystery box, I definitely recommend subscribing to Sleuth Kings! You can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! As always, I highly recommend it! 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 010: Second Chance (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Everyone deserves a second chance, don’t you think?

Theme:

In the past, Don Arroz was a master criminal, but luckily his wrongdoing was swiftly halted when Isaac King put him away twenty years ago. He’s returned to the Sleuth Kings offices now, but not for revenge. He wants Sullivan’s help to prevent him from returning to a life of crime! Someone has taken Don’s daughter, and is blackmailing him into committing crimes around the city, but for what purpose, he cannot determine. It’s up to you to figure out who’s pulling the strings on Don, save his daughter, and put an end to whatever plot has been set into motion before it’s too late!

First Impressions:

Sleuth Kings always delivers the greatest props and most imaginative puzzles. The fact that this box included a $100 bill wallet, a kid’s menu from an Italian restaurant, and a strange note that all exuded mystery in their own way truly encapsulated the feel of a Sleuth Kings mystery. We couldn’t wait to get started and see how everything tied together!

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I love the fact that there’s a kid’s menu included. It’s such a weird, yet perfect fit.

High Points:

One of the best things about Case 010 is how clues that are so disparate from each other come together in such a perfect way. The aforementioned wallet, note, and kid’s menu all tie together thematically and appropriately. This case also allows for multiple endings, tasking you with deciding how you’d like to solve the case. In fact, puzzle clues cleverly lead toward the branching paths, and allow for some slightly non-linear solving in what is usually a fairly linear experience! Like a good, story-focused video game, this case also affords you the joy of going back through the story to see what would’ve changed had you made a different decision, and seeing both of the possible endings was highly satisfying. Due to these branching paths, there were a couple more puzzles than usual, which is always appreciated, and at some points, the two of us working on this box were able to split the puzzles we were best at and work in tandem! The puzzle flow is flawless, and even with some steps leading towards other possible paths, they don’t become accidental red herrings, as your goals are always clear and well explained within the narrative. As always, the epilogue letter we received a week later was highly anticipated, and contained a fun keepsake and denouement. The addition to the meta-narrative of Sullivan’s missing father continues to build towards the next bonus case, and we cannot wait to find out what happens next!

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A coin for your troubles!

Low Points:

There is one specific puzzle included in this case that we’ve seen a couple times before in other Sleuth Kings cases, so it has become old hat for us to solve. I don’t dislike the puzzle itself, there’s just not as much mystery surrounding it as when it was fresh, so it becomes more of a speed bump than an engaging clue. The branching storyline is great, though it seemed strange that of the two options given for catching the bad guys, the one that was denoted to be more difficult actually involved a couple fewer puzzles and was actually much more direct, game flow wise.

Verdict:

Sleuth Kings is an always excellent series of mysteries that we look forward to receiving every month, and this month was no exception! Continuing to boast a phenomenal blend of puzzle solving, deduction, and superb world-building, Sleuth Kings is a must have subscription for any mystery enthusiast! The ongoing meta-narrative continues to be highly engaging, and we love the fact that the story follows up in real time through the mail! You absolutely should try it out, and you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! As always, I highly recommend it! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Isaac Case 001 (Bonus Case Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Bonus Case!

Theme:

After helping Sullivan solve four cases, it’s finally time to help with the enigma that is most important to him, figuring out the mystery of his father Isaac’s disappearance! During the epilogues of the previous cases, you’ve received missives from an informant who found someone who might’ve been helped by the vanished detective, but she’s since gone missing, so it’s up to you and Sullivan to figure out where she’s gone, and make sure she’s safe before your only lead goes up in smoke!

First Impressions:

One of the greatest things about Sleuth Kings is that the story continues beyond the initial box, developing the narrative convincingly past your initial solving session. During the previous cases, we received epilogue letters after successfully catching the culprits, each containing a resolution for their respective cases. These letters included an extra puzzle that hinted at new information related to the disappearance of the elder King. Our last case’s epilogue just said that this time, there was just too much to send along immediately, and we’d be receiving another box soon! Not only is this exciting as part of the meta-narrative of Sleuth Kings, but it proves why this subscription delivers the absolute best bang for your buck!

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A free enigma! A freenigma, if you will.

High Points:

Though this is a shorter bonus case, there’s still a lot to unpack, and no expense was spared in delivering quality props for this mystery! The clues flow perfectly into each other, and each adds information to the story, building towards another excellent climax. Solving methods for a couple of the clues are very tactile and satisfying to put together. Some items are appropriately mysterious, but once the proper clues come together, the solving method becomes intuitive, leading to an awesome ah ha moment. Background information continues to be highly entertaining while still providing extra story bits to help flesh out the narrative, even if it is non-essential to solving the case. The meta-narrative is served well by this case, picking up where the many breadcrumbs from the epilogues left off, and revealing the stakes while still giving off a mysterious vibe. The post script for this case includes a fantastic payoff, revealing what I assume to be the next part of the story, giving us something to look forward to after we’ve completed another four cases!

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The mystery deepens even further!

Low Points:

Not only is this case a 100% free bonus that comes with your subscription, there’s very little to talk about in this section! I think the only issue we had was that there was one puzzle that presented a pretty clear solving method, but once we had made it to the end, the words became very ambiguous to read. It’s a very minor problem that we got around quickly, though.

Verdict:

While a shorter experience, this case still provides a fair challenge, and continues to prove that Sleuth Kings is a subscription that provides an excellent value every month! Though you’ll need to solve four cases successfully before you receive this one, you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! As always, I highly recommend it!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box. (duh.)

Sleuth Kings – Case 009: Part-Time Thieves (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Criminal Cliques

Theme:

Rei Yukimura has been hard at work organizing the Dayton Asian Festival, poring blood, sweat, and tears into making this the event of the year! Things soured, however, when Rei’s daughter Asuna learned that a ring of would-be thieves had formed at her high school, hired by one of the vendors to steal from other stalls during the festival! Worried that these kids will ruin the Festival, Rei has hired Sullivan to discreetly find out who hired the clique. Unable to keep a low profile skulking around a high school, Sullivan will be assisted by Asuna to crack the case!

First Impressions:

I happened to be home when I saw the postwoman drop off our Sleuth Kings box for the month, and I was instantly excited to see what was inside! I was good and waited for my partner in (solving) crimes before I began poring through the box, and it was, as always, worth the wait! The theme this month was different from what we were used to, and though the stakes were lower, it was exciting nonetheless!

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I never get tired of opening up these case files! (Especially if Pugicorns are going to be involved!)

High Points:

As always, Sleuth Kings delivered yet another finely woven, puzzle laden case to our door! The stakes were quite a bit lower than usual with this case, but this was a good change of pace after taking down a serial killer two months running (Cases 007 and 008.) The light-hearted nature of the story brought a bit of levity to the mystery, and we really enjoyed working with our new partner for the case, Asuna. The daughter of our client was written in a believable and humorous way, all teenage bravado and eagerness to take down the high school crime ring! I’m really hoping we get to work with her on cases in the future, she was such a fantastic character! The puzzles were well implemented within the theme and highly believable to be made by a high school clique and their Queen Bee leader. In fact, some parts of the story infused me with a bit of nostalgia. Props were excellent, and wonderfully varied; we specifically enjoyed the adorable nature of the invitation to do crimes put out by the Queen Bee villain. There were several instances where we received side notes and other things to read that weren’t strictly part of the case, but added to the entertainment value and kept us laughing, bolstering the light heartedness of the adventure. I really need more Chugbear in my life, just saying. Can we have Case 011: The Hunt for the Chugbear? Or at least the rest of the story? (This will make so much more sense when you buy this case. Which you should. Right now. Go on.) The epilogue letter we received was also wonderful, and included a small present from our favorite character from the case! We noted that this letter marked our fourth solved mystery, and as promised on the website and in this letter, we’d be receiving a special bonus case tying into the meta-story of Sleuth Kings soon! That review coming in a couple weeks!

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Oh the antici… pation!

Low Points:

Only a couple things to note here, as Sleuth Kings continues to prove why they’re the top dog in the Mystery Subscription Box game! One of the clues included instructions for assembly, but unfortunately, part of the instructions had it backwards, leading us to need to redo it. They worked for the most part, however, so this wasn’t a big deal, but might accidentally trip up those that aren’t familiar with this sort of assembly. The only other thing was that this was by far the quickest and easiest main case we’d done with Sleuth Kings, taking our group only an hour to solve. This is a great entry point for beginners, though, so it’s not much of a complaint. Veteran Sleuths should expect a less difficult mystery, but the case is very much worth it for the story and characters presented!

Verdict:

Another excellent case from Sleuth Kings! You can’t go wrong with these guys, and I highly recommend checking out any of their cases and subscribing today! Over the months we’ve been reviewing these sorts of experiences, Sleuth Kings has by far been the box we’re most excited to see at our door! Case 009 is a great place to start, and you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Case 008: The Fate Killer (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

You can’t stop Fate!

Theme:

The Fate Killer from Case 007 is on the loose and it’s only a matter of time before he kills again! Not only will you have to follow the clues to a new missing person, but you’ll also need to dig into an old case file in order to decipher the puzzles the Fate Killer has left behind and finally bring this elusive serial killer to justice! Work with Sullivan and his grandfather Samuel to unravel the mystery and bring closure to a cold case file from over 30 years ago!

First Impressions:

We have been excited for this case ever since the ending of the last mystery made it clear that Case 008 would be a sequel! The case file was full to bursting with exciting new props and information, and we could barely wait to get started!

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Solve the mystery of the funky blue fidget spinner!

High Points:

This was our favorite Sleuth Kings box yet, and probably one of our overall subscription box favorites to this point, it was just that expertly crafted! The puzzles continued to be a difficult but fair challenge, and everything just fit together so perfectly with the storyline, as well as the events of the previous box. It was clear, however, that you didn’t need to have played the last box to understand what was going on due to the fantastic inclusion of a short recap of the preceding case’s story. Puzzles themselves involved various types of codebreaking and word puzzles, as well as a couple satisfying tactile interactions we always love to see! The inclusion of a clear meta puzzle being built throughout the story was awesome, and it included an awesome a ha moment once it was brought together and solved. The story builds tension excellently, and working with Sullivan and his grandfather changes things up and makes the case feel bigger than usual. The climax of the story is deeply satisfying, and fit with a lot of the things we had said to Sullivan in our emails, which I enjoyed greatly. All in all, we were invested in this story from the start to when we finished about two hours later!

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Another fantastic epilogue, as always.

Low Points:

Though there seemed to be a choice that could change the story, it didn’t seem like the optional side quest was really that optional in the grand scheme of things. We may be wrong, but in our playthrough, it looked like this step required. Not that it wasn’t something we weren’t going to do anyway, though, so it’s definitely a very small thing. One mini puzzle’s solution is still something we cannot figure out, but it was something we didn’t need the answer to in order to move on, as it was just one part of the overall puzzle.

Verdict:

As each new case arrives, Sleuth Kings has become more and more of a must for mystery and puzzle aficionados! If you think you’d be interested in a subscription box and have an affinity for challenging puzzle based adventures, I cannot recommend Sleuth Kings enough! Especially Cases 007 and 008, which can be purchased separately from the Sleuth Kings archives! But don’t stop there, because you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.