Sleuth Kings – Case 023: Search for the Hidden Treasure (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

The real treasure is the friends you make along the way.

Theme:

It’s a slow day at the Sleuth Kings offices, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a mystery afoot! Asuna Yukimura, president of the Young Detectives Club at Flyer High, recently uncovered a map that promises to lead to hidden treasure somewhere around Dayton! Unfortunately, some of her bullies have stolen the map, and are on the hunt as well. Using Asuna’s notes and copies of the clues, it is up to you to decipher the cryptic treasure map and claim the booty before the bullies!

First Impressions:

Another case starring one of our favorite supporting characters, Asuna, is always welcome! Her previous two adventures have been some of our favorites, so we were excited to get started on this newest caper! The light hearted nature of this new case is a great moment of levity before next month’s much more intense Framed as well.

High Points:

Asuna’s treasure hunt is set up in an engaging way, with vibrant clues, an intriguing mystery, and an impetus to work quickly. Though it certainly is a much lighter theme, don’t expect to get too comfortable, as Asuna’s bullies are no slouches when it comes to solving mysteries as well. Each puzzle has multiple levels to solve through, so even those which look basic on the surface have another layer to peel back, and a couple of them provide truly great moments of revelation. One clue in particular is very clever, and provides a great tactile experience during the solve, providing two different clues, and using an innocuous item in an interesting way. This particular case is much more destructible than others, and while it may not be playable again straight out of the box, it creates a highly interactive, Exit The Game type experience that we greatly enjoy.

The world building of the case is great, as players are introduced to several new and old locations throughout the Sleuth Kings Universe, some of which contain fantastic call backs to previous cases for long time players. This case is definitely a highly original idea, taking the theme of a treasure hunt, and mixing in a compelling addition to the story that heightens the engagement. There are also some really dad-joke level riddles on one of the clues that I enjoyed annoying my wife with. Those little details are always excellent to uncover during all the Sleuth Kings cases. The climax is fantastic, and the epilogue letter adds in a great ending and souvenir for completing the treasure hunt that I thought was a fantastic touch.

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Time to join the hunt for the treasure! You’re sure to be richer by the end!

Low Points:

Asuna is definitely one of our favorite characters, but we didn’t get to interact quite as much with her during this case as earlier cases. Her dialogue is easily the best of the series in our opinion, so we missed the mid case interactions that usually come up. Like Case 022, we emailed Sullivan fewer times as well, so most of the story was loaded into the beginning and end of the mystery. We generally enjoy the interactions peppered in between clues, as it makes it feel more like the case is moving forward in real time as we solve, as well as providing a break from the action. This case is also a bit more simpler than usual for the most part, with a lot of the clues being variations of some of the more prevalent puzzle and code breaking types. Most times, there are good twists that go along with these however, so they don’t feel too basic. A late game clue began to feel a bit tedious due to the process of solving, but didn’t go overlong into frustration. The meta puzzle is a fun idea, but the directions felt somewhat vague to us, and we felt as though the cluing could have been a bit tighter there to keep us from going too off rails.

Verdict:

Asuna’s treasure hunt is a somewhat easier mission for veteran sleuths, but is definitely worth checking out for novel puzzles and another great adventure with one of the best co-detectives Sullivan’s got! For new players, this is certainly a great jumping in point, as the case is exemplar of the sort of enigmas you can expect to find in tougher cases, and is really a lot of fun as a light hearted stand alone mystery. You can purchase it 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)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Case 022: The Trouble With Wizards (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Alohomora!

Theme:

From the Sleuth King’s website:

Wizard Con is supposed to be one of the best conventions of the year, but Gordon Falco might disagree – someone used it to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit. A mysterious package that showed up on his doorstep is Gordon’s only hope. The sender is missing, but their offer is clear: they can give Gordon the evidence he needs to prove his innocence. The catch? Sullivan has to find and rescue them, first. Can you help Sullivan work a little magic and find the evidence he needs in order to save two men’s lives?

First Impressions:

Time to hit up a con with Sullivan King! Not the usual kind of con Sullivan deals with, but it’ll still be a lot of fun, and hey, you get a free wand out of the deal! Joking aside, this theme is ripe for interesting game play, and we were definitely enthralled by the colorful clues  included with this box! The art design of Sleuth Kings is so unique, and easily one of the things I absolutely love about each box.

High Points:

Sleuth Kings has been on a roll with the massively creative themes lately, and The Trouble With Wizards brings the crime solving to a local convention! The story is another cool set up, with an original setting coupled with a thrilling crime to create an extremely creative mystery.  The inclusion of a new character hinted at during the epilogue of Case 021, A Book A Day, helps expand the Sleuth Kings Universe further, and presents the opportunity to get to know Sullivan a little better. Wizard Con’s awesome spell book brochure, advertising posters and alcoholic potions set up a convincing group of items for this case, as well as bring a sense of whimsy to an otherwise tense life or death mystery. The clues are laid out in a convincing way, and the game flow is incredibly smooth. Each puzzle contributes part of a meta puzzle through a really excellent online interaction, and we very much enjoyed receiving new pieces of the mystery in this way. Even a certain interaction I usually find rather tedious isn’t too bad due to the way it is gradually presented.

The clues included with this mystery are especially layered, more so than usual, which is absolutely saying something! Everything seemed somewhat separate at the beginning, with only a single mysterious thing tying each one together, but as we solved, new and cleverly hidden connections began to emerge. Bringing all the clues together in this way is very satisfying, and the build towards the meta-puzzle was a fun puzzling mountain to climb. Once we had solved the case, there was a small easter egg that allowed us to continue the experience, utilizing some enigmas that we didn’t originally use during the case, which was a cool twist. This helped optionally fill in the back story, and provided a highly satisfying denouement to the experience.

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Yer a wizard, Sully!

Low Points:

We communicated with Sullivan very little during this case, and we really missed the little story breaks that usually accompany an email to Sullivan. They allow for a small respite from puzzling to deliver new story beats, which is a great feature of Sleuth Kings cases. This case felt as though it didn’t have as much build as other cases due to the absence of Sullivan’s jaunts around Dayton or spats with his grandfather when we fed him a new piece of information. This mystery also felt a little easier, and therefore quicker than usual, as one of the main puzzles that takes the most time to solve is a creative, but highly ubiquitous cipher. While it was broken up across the puzzles, keeping us from having to solve too much of it all at once, the cipher did come up a little too much for us at times.

Verdict:

Case 022: The Trouble With Wizards is a great new case that presents some interesting new characters to the meta-story. I’m very interested to see how Sullivan’s relationship with his brother will evolve, especially considering his current investigation into his father’s disappearance. This is definitely an easier case, so it’s a great jumping off point for new Sleuths, but veteran gumshoes will enjoy the story beats that are introduced during the course of this adventure. You can purchase it 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 021 – A Book A Day (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Poor Bear.

Theme:

From the Sleuth King’s website:

Jen Hunker and Sullivan’s mom spent their lives creating a non-profit organization called A Book A Day. Now, the FBI has accused Jen of using the program to smuggle drugs and is threatening to arrest her and shut it down. Sullivan and his grandfather, Samuel, have agreed to work together in order to clear Jen’s name, but even that might not be enough. Unless they’re able to find the real smuggler – and fast – A Book A Day will be destroyed. Can you help Sullivan clear Jen’s name and save the organization that his mom devoted herself to?

First Impressions:

I didn’t quite know what to expect with this box, theme wise, but when we started retrieving the evidence from our Case envelope, I could tell we were in for another awesomely quirky Sleuth Kings case! We received what looked to be some pages from a cute pet themed children’s book (that involved the world’s most put-upon teddy bear,) an adorable bookmark, and some notes and flyers from A Book A Day, all of which peaked our interest. It certainly looked like a great time on the surface, but how did it play? Spoiler alert: It played fantastically.

High Points:

This might just be the cutest Sleuth Kings mystery ever, but it certainly does not skimp on the mystery and puzzles! The difficulty curve is one of the smoothest I’ve seen for the series, starting off with an easy win to start things off, and culminating in some of the most original and exciting puzzles we’ve solved with this subscription yet! The props are used in intuitive and creative ways, and parts of the game we figured were finished came back with even more layered puzzling to do. It was very satisfying to dig so many clues out of these items, and most of them were extremely well hidden until we had uncovered a piece of information that tied everything together. Though we ran through this one a little quicker than usual, it definitely wasn’t because this game was overly simplistic, rather, it just clicked for us through the game flow.

Speaking of the game flow, it kept a great pace throughout, leaving no real lulls or moments where we were at a loss for what to do next. One particular puzzle required a bit more pondering than the others, but the investigation didn’t feel stalled, rather, there was just a bit more sleuthing to do! The storyline for this case is a lot of fun, and Samuel, Sullivan’s grandfather, returns for more crotchety old man antics. Sullivan and Samuel’s interactions are great, and a light hearted way to progress the mystery. There are excellent easter eggs hearkening back to previous cases, as well as some literary ones as well during the Kings’ trip to the library. The climax of the adventure is fantastic, and reveals some information that might expand the Sleuth Kings Universe in the future, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next!

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This case is the inspiration for the new book, Luna and Friends Take Down the Drug Smuggling Ring.

Low Points:

One clue requires a passing familiarity with a certain type of cipher in order to complete without the Clue Analysis, I feel. Luckily, we busted that one without the clues since we enjoy the slightly more difficult version, but some players may need to pop over to the Analysis just for this one if they don’t have this familiarity. It’s mostly obvious, but for newer players, it might present a bigger logical leap.

Verdict:

We loved working through Case 021 – A Book A Day, and always enjoy the quirky and splendidly put together themes that Sleuth Kings delivers! I think this one would especially be a great start for new players, as well as a solid entry for veteran Sleuths. I can certainly say you can’t go wrong with this case. You can purchase it 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!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings: Case 020 – Blood PI (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Crime and Crucifixes

Theme:

Rosalyn Neal, star of the hit vampire detective show, Blood PI, is being hounded by a mysterious and sinister stalker, and she’s reached out to Sullivan King to help discover who is behind the increasingly threatening letters she’s been receiving. Before Sullivan can make much headway, Rosalyn is shot during the filming of a new episode and police are working to keep him away from the crime scene! Sure that their prime suspect is being set up, Sullivan enlists the help of Celest St. Clair in order to gain access to the scene and the evidence within. Use the scattered clues to piece together who is behind the shooting before they can strike again!

First Impressions:

Sleuth Kings is always at it’s best when exploring more outlandish themes, and an obsessed fan/wannabe vampire and a vampire detective show, (that I desperately want Netflix to pick up,) are excellent ideas for this case. I absolutely could not wait to see how everything unraveled, so as soon as we had a chance, we jumped on the case!

High Points:

I feel like it isn’t just a coincidence that this case has a fun call back to a previous favorite, Case 013: The Beast Within. Not only does this mystery feel like a spiritual sequel to that case, it is just as extremely well put together and fun to complete! The story is as out of the box and engaging as the blurb promised, and weaves spectacularly through the game flow, with new narrative threads popping up throughout to keep things exciting. Though the case could end up being rather dark based on the theme, the subject matter is handled excellently, keeping things light hearted enough while still presenting the urgency of the matter as you make your way through the clues. The included props are great, and the Blood PI promotional material feels just camp enough to make me wish this show actually existed. The ending was delivered via a nail biter of a climax, and I could not wait to see how things resolved via the epilogue letter.

The game flow itself is superb, with several interlocking puzzles winding through the experience. The difficulty curve works well, building from more up front enigmas and towards more layered and involved interactions as the case evolves. Each step of the way feels significant, and the myriad moments of revelation and clever solutions rewarded our engagement throughout. The way each clue builds upon one another is a hallmark of Sleuth Kings cases, but this one in particular feels especially natural to me, as this adventure felt extra rewarding! My favorite puzzle was a joy to solve, combining tactile interaction with another clue we had uncovered to deliver the reveal of yet another hidden piece of evidence. Overall, this case is really something special.

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Low Points:

Unfortunately, there aren’t any actual vampires in the Sleuth Kings Universe and Blood PI isn’t a real show. Woe!

Verdict:

Blood PI is easily the best case Sleuth Kings has created yet! Once again taking a fantastically original premise and melding it with an astoundingly great game flow and colorful cast of characters, this mystery absolutely knocks it out of the park! We recommend this adventure one hundred percent. You can purchase it when it arrives on 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!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings – Case 019: My Brother’s Reaper (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Always bet on King.

Theme:

Rival Private Investigator John Malvone returns, but this time, instead of seeking to beat Sullivan to the punch, he’s asking for our help. Well, perhaps not “asking” as much as “breaking and entering” and “telling,” but being the altruistic and ultimately curious PI he is, Sullivan is willing to assist. Malvone’s brother was killed in the line of duty during his work as a cop, but he suspects it wasn’t the accident the police department has chalked it up to be. He suspects this goes all the way to the local Moretti Crime Family, and he’s determined to take them down in retribution. There’s a small window to do so, however, as the Morettis aren’t known for their inattention to detail or gentle hand when it comes to outsiders meddling in their business!

First Impressions:

After our latest showdown with the mysterious organization responsible for Sullivan’s father’s disappearance, it was time to get back to the day to day business of Sleuth Kings. Only this time, we were greeted with a letter from one of our known rivals, John Malvone! An excellent twist to get things going, the adventure only becomes more exciting from there!

High Points:

After an receiving our briefing from Malvone, we began to unravel the meaning of the many excellent Moretti Gaming props that were the centerpiece of this experience. From the start, the mystery really fires on all cylinders, and doesn’t let up until the conclusion. The initial puzzle is ingenious in it’s elegance, and I really enjoyed the hugely satisfying ah ha moment it delivered. This led smoothly in to the next clue, and each subsequent puzzle built upon the next with a extremely rewarding difficulty curve that kept things challenging without becoming vague or poorly clued. The layouts of each prop and puzzle present themselves superbly, and look convincing without giving away their secrets willingly. The layers of puzzling packed into each bit is amazing, and I really think this is one of the most tightly layered experiences that Sleuth Kings has come up with yet!

The story is fantastic, and the mystery is full of easter eggs and callbacks to previous cases, tying in to the overall universe nicely. Veterans of the series will love how this case pulls from older capers, bringing back interesting characters and delivering an experience that is wholly grounded in the Sleuth Kings Universe, while still being a fresh adventure to engage with. Everything is still accessible, however, so new players need not worry about getting their hands on older boxes before they can fully enjoy this one. Sullivan’s interactions with Malvone are humorously written, and provide great levity to the overarching revenge story being told. By the end, the sometimes rival becomes yet another great, and multifaceted character that we look forward to seeing more from in future Sleuth Kings cases!

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All the glitz and glamour of a Mafioso casino!

Low Points:

My only real issue with this box was the strange red herring we came across during the latter part our investigation. Usually, everything within a Sleuth Kings box is important, especially those pieces that stand out, but there was one specific item that seemed like a fairly obvious clue, but didn’t bear fruit. It was a weird side trail we got caught up in that we couldn’t muster any meaning from. Otherwise, the whole case was tightly plotted and amazing!

Verdict:

My Brother’s Reaper is one of the best cases Sleuth Kings has put out yet, and a prime example of how their product has continued to improve every month! We loved this case, and absolutely think detectives new and old will too. Absolutely give this one a try when it is added to 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!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.