Sleuth Kings – Case 005: The Curse (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

A pox on you!

Theme:

Ken Suzuki and his wife live a carefree life of travel and leisure, recording their experiences for their popular travel blog, but Ken’s life is turned on its head when a homeless woman approaches and curses him! Since then, his health has quickly deteriorated. He’s come to Sullivan, hoping that the PI can make some sense of the cryptic note that he found in his pocket after the encounter, and it’s up to you to figure out who’s really behind this curse before Ken gets any worse!

First Impressions:

We can never get enough Sleuth Kings, so what better way to pass the time between monthly cases than to order a previous mystery from the archives? Case 004 proved to be an excellent adventure, so when digging in to The Curse, we knew it would be a good time!

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Elements of the Curse!

High Points:

In lieu of an interview, Ken provided us with his “Curse Log,” which was an excellent read and conveyed the needed information in a fresh and clever way. This, along with the bits and pieces of the mystery that he and Sullivan had collected provided an authentic feel to the mystery that we really enjoyed. Clues lead into each other intuitively, and each puzzle is well layered and contributes to the story in an interesting way. The difficulty of the experience increases gradually, providing a fantastic learning curve for newer players, making this a great entry point to the Sleuth Kings Universe. A late game puzzle provides an awesome interaction that I’ve rarely seen duplicated in subscription box form, and would love to see more of in the future! The story itself is a well crafted and sometimes humorous tale, and provides an awesome climax and denouement via the post-mystery epilogue we received a few days later in the mail.

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Travel in style with your new Sleuth Kings luggage tag!

Low Points:

One late game puzzle presented a fairly vague guess and check puzzle which we were hung up on after it had already been solved due to our interpretation of the clues leading us to believe there was more to the story. The climax of the mystery was telegraphed more than usual, and we had solved the case, but required a very specific phrase in order to get this across to Sullivan, which resulted in a few somewhat jumbled auto-responses from our detective pal, which broke the usual immersive atmosphere of a Sleuth Kings experience.

Verdict:

Case 005 is an archived case, and though it may be an older experience, it still shows off that excellent Sleuth Kings quality that we’ve come to expect, packing mind-bending puzzles, amazing props, and a fantastic story within it’s box! I definitely recommend giving it a shot, and you can order it via the Sleuth Kings Archives. If you’re interested in joining Sullivan on his adventures on an ongoing basis, you can also use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! The rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews are here for your perusal!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Sleuth Kings: Case 012 – Dark Secrets (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Mini-golf Mobsters!

Theme:

Picking up right where Case 011 left off, Celeste St. Claire owes some dangerous folks a lot of money. She also owes the Dayton Art Museum no less than three paintings she stole. It’s a pickle that Sullivan King has graciously agreed to help extract her from, but it isn’t going to be an easy task. The mob boss Giovanni Moretti is her main debtor, and he’s not known for his patience or even-keeled handling of those who cross him! Celeste has a plan to bring this mobster to his knees, however, if you can figure out how to find his little black(mail) book!

First Impressions:

Sequels are always a good time; the last time a sequel was produced, Case 008, it became one of my favorite Sleuth Kings boxes! This time, we were going against the mob boss that was coercing Celeste into stealing fine art for him on his own (astro)turf at The Playground’s mini golf course! Oh Sullivan, you bring us into the most insane circumstances.

High Points:

Per usual, each clue we received along the way ranged from clear cut decoding to delightfully devious metapuzzling, offering a full range of interactions and enigmas to keep us fully entertained. Setting a mafia mystery within a putt putt course is a stroke of hilarious genius, keeping the tone lighthearted and fun. The banter between Sullivan and Celeste is great, and continues to prove that Sullivan is at his best when working with an on site partner. I’d definitely like to see more from this reformed art thief in the future! Props are snazzy and most are much deeper than originally thought, leading to great ah ha moments. Almost every puzzle included still contain another layer of puzzling hidden within later clues that work towards the metapuzzle, and every prop opens up new avenues of investigation. One piece of the puzzle in particular has an astounding amount of clues included, which lead to so many satisfying conclusions!

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Case 012 Alternate title: Putt Putt and Mob Bosses.

Low Points:

Unlike the previous sequel in the Sleuth Kings universe, I think it is more required to experience Case 011 beforehand. Though this one can technically be played stand alone, the story would suffer more due to not having quite the investment in the art thief’s plight. The main puzzle of this case also comes across as vague, as two key parts of the puzzle itself aren’t quite clear. It took us several readings to determine a particular key piece of information that is given a bit later in the game flow, and as a result, the clues themselves didn’t make sense initially. It would’ve helped immensely had this information been presented earlier, as for the initial parts of the experience, we were under the impression that there were fewer moving parts than there really were.

Verdict:

Dark Secrets is another excellent addition to the Sleuth Kings universe, adding compelling characters, layered and challenging, but ultimately satisfying puzzling, and another fantastic story line. I highly recommend checking it out, and ordering Case 011 as well in order to get the full experience. You should also subscribe so that you don’t miss out on any of the fun! 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 – Isaac Case 002 (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Mystery from the Cinders.

Theme:

The search for Isaac King continues in this second bonus mystery from Sleuth Kings! On the trail of an elusive gang, Sullivan has found a former member who might know something about where his father disappeared to, but will only talk if he can stop the attacks that have been going on in his neighborhood. Sullivan needs your help to piece together the evidence and determine how deep this conspiracy goes, or his father’s trail might go permanently cold!

First Impressions:

For those not in the know, one of the many amazing things about Sleuth Kings is that once you’ve successfully solved four cases, you will receive free bonus case that ties into the overarching meta-story of the disappearance of Isaac King. As we had completed our eighth case, it was time for us to continue the hunt for Sullivan’s father! Sleuth Kings being our top favorite monthly box, we dove in as soon as possible!

High Points:

While this may be a bonus case, it’s no less complex than a regular case, and boasts an excellent continuation to the overarching story! Codebreaking puzzles along with an extremely fun tactile interaction all feed into a couple meta puzzles which open up online components that further add to the narrative. The game flow and story deepen as the case evolves, allowing for each thread to unravel slowly, pointing towards new clues and details to explore. Some classic puzzles are involved, and will be spotted immediately by veteran solvers, but are still presented interestingly, with a few twists to keep things fresh. Emails to Sullivan continue to be fantastic additions to the experience, and create a sense of real world progression while not halting the action unnecessarily. The climax sets the mystery up well for a continuation while still presenting a satisfying conclusion, and the epilogue is appropriately equal parts a denouement and cliffhanger.

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Another bonus case full of codes!

Low Points:

The great tactile interaction mentioned earlier was a lot of fun, but I can see some people having a hard time getting it to work. Without spoiling anything, I personally had to seek out some extra tools to really get it going. Others might find it frustrating since there aren’t tools included to finish this one easily, but most people should be able to get it done with household items. One particular part of the metapuzzle was a bit silly in how strained the suspension of disbelief was, though there was an obvious reason for why it was presented in this way. It was still a little more over the top than what we are used to when solving Sleuth Kings cases.

Verdict:

Though you can’t order this case right away, it is an excellent example of how Sleuth Kings adds so much value to their subscriptions. The fact that this free case is so deep and tightly crafted shows that even when something is a bonus, Sleuth Kings does not skimp on the quality! It may take a while to get there, but I highly recommend subscribing so that you too can experience this fantastic story. You can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! And if you’re really wanting to get to a bonus case quickly, you can order and solve past cases from the Sleuth Kings archive! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

8.5/10 (Great)

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

Sleuth Kings – Case 011: Midnight Secrets (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Crime in abstract.

Theme:

The Dayton Art Museum has recently been hit by a notorious art thief! An alert security guard noticed someone fishy skulking about, and gave chase, but unfortunately, the culprit was able to get away! One of their most valuable pieces, “Midnight Secrets,” was taken, but according to surveillance cameras, the painting may still be inside the museum. In fact, someone on staff must be behind the crime, as no alarms were tripped and all exits were covered by a top of the line security system. It’s up to you and Sullivan to piece together the clues to figure out who is working with the Midnight Thief and track down the painting before it disappears for good!

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Of all the offices in all the world, she had to walk into mine.

First Impressions:

I’m always excited when it comes time for another Sleuth Kings mystery, and this month was no different! Once the box arrives, I always wait for my fiancé to be ready to start the adventure, but before putting the case away until then, I noticed was that Sleuth Kings has another super snazzy box! (Pictured above.) The artwork for this one is pretty amazing, and provides a glimpse into Sullivan King’s appropriately Noir world. This small change was enough to make me want to open Case 011 up early, but I was good and waited.

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Immerse yourself into the mysteries of art!

High Points:

Sleuth Kings is always great at coming up with new and exciting themes from month to month, and the art heist Sullivan is investigating this month is a fantastic idea! The puzzles include excellently themed props, and provide a mixture of tactile and logic based puzzles for a varied and well crafted adventure. One of the strongest points of Sleuth Kings is the side stories that are told between the lines of the puzzle threads, and Midnight Secrets continues this fun tradition, while twisting it slightly to provide some extra breadcrumbs along the way. This easter egg provided a fun little side theory while I was solving, and expanded the experience without being a major or required element. The story itself is tightly woven, and kept us immersed from start to finish, managing to keep the stakes high while delivering on a lighter theme! Conversations with Sullivan continue to become more exciting every case, and the details of some of the climactic events were a blast to read. This case also sets up a few hanging threads, prepping for a sequel much like Cases 007 and 008! I cannot wait to see how the story evolves from here. Finally, this was our 8th case solved, so we’re excitedly waiting for the next bonus case, tying into the disappearance of Sullivan’s father!

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Another satisfying conclusion, with the promise of another bonus case!

Low Points:

The puzzle that stumped us was great, though we were stuck on it for quite a while and could not determine how we could figure out the method of solving, even with the two hints we got from Sullivan, which basically told us what we already knew. After those hints, the only other avenue was to allow Sullivan to reveal the answer, but fortunately, Sleuth Kings provided great customer service when we contacted them via their Facebook page, and they sent us an extra hint so we could overcome the speed bump we’d hit. A small bit of built in cluing, or hints that were for further along in the puzzle would’ve helped a lot.

Verdict:

Midnight Secrets is a fantastic adventure that continues to deliver Sleuth King’s amazing brand of well plotted storylines and clever puzzling. I 100% recommend subscribing, and definitely think it’d be worth your while to pick this one up from the archives in preparation for Case 012! 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.

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.