The Panic Room – The Exorcism of Isabelle (Review)

Location: Your home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-6 – we suggest 1-3

Price: £12.50 ($16.57 at the time of this writing)

Do y’think Isabelle knows Annabelle?


From the Panic Room website:

We received some documents from a friend, who was researching the history of the house he just bought. The history is pretty disturbing. People who lived in it previously were convinced the house was haunted.

The strangest thing is, that as soon as these people tried to combat whatever it is that lives in the house, they soon start to exhibit some erratic behavior and slowly lose their mind. Three previous owners committed suicide within a month from the first time they talked to someone about the “spirits” that possess the house. Our friend got close, closer than anyone, to the secret of the house. He is sure that it’s not about the house itself, but… a doll. A creepy old doll, that was left in the attic. It remained in the house for a century, and our friend was sure, that it is the source of misfortune for anyone living in the house.

Our friend knew something can go terribly wrong during his investigation, so he sent out copies of his research in case something happens to him. Today he fell out the window on the second floor of the house. He’s alive, but barely. Who knows, what awaits him when he wakes up if the curse is not lifted from the house.

Our goal is to follow the research friend did, to find out the names of the demons possessing the doll and exorcise them forever…

First Impressions:

We had a fantastic time working through The Panic Room’s Online Sherlock Holmes and CSI: Stranglehold escape games, and after having another browse through their website, I couldn’t help but be drawn to their new Puzzle Book section. I’ve been looking for a good puzzle book that wasn’t just simple at home puzzles like Sudoku or a mostly disconnected set of puzzles like Journal 29. The Panic Room seemed to have exactly what I needed in the form of The Exorcism of Isabelle, a horror themed puzzle book that looked to be just my style!

Creepy doll? Check. Weeping blood? Check. You have my attention.

High Points:

I received The Exorcism of Isabelle as a PDF, allowing me to test and review the game pre-release, and though it was a print and play game for me, the pages were still very clear, and well designed. Each page contains a bit of story, background, or a puzzle of some sort, and it is up to the players to make connections between the pages to determine the names of the nine demons possessing the creepy doll that has been haunting Amityville. An online exorcism sheet was provided, allowing for immediate feedback on whether answers were correct, and rather than just being a simple answer sheet, sound effects and graphics have been included to ensure even entering solutions is an immersive experience. I absolutely love the soundtrack that has been included with the experience as an optional add on, and it has been beautifully curated to ensure maximum spookiness. The book is presented as the journal of one of Isabelle’s most recent victims, and I liked how story tidbits were integrated into each page through his mad scribblings and notes. The experience was packed with conundrums, and I really enjoyed how puzzles looped through multiple pages, ensuring every bit of the book was used to its fullest. The creepy story of a possessed doll was wonderfully implemented, and the introductory video was well produced, setting the stage fantastically.

Puzzles were intuitive, and each solution was clearly some sort of Eldritch name. While the names themselves were not standard words and phrases, it was pretty clear when a solution was correct, even before entering them into the online answer sheet. This experience felt like more than just a standard puzzle book, with physical mysteries to solve, and some tactile items that lent a more interactive feel to the adventure. The puzzles are presented in a completely non-linear fashion, and players are free to work on whatever they like while making their way through the game. As a solo player, this allowed me to jump around if I ever became stuck, and groups will be able to divide and conquer if they prefer, ensuring there are no specific choke points to get tangled up in. All the puzzles integrated well into the story, and on a couple separate occasions, the real world was mixed into the game to great effect. I really enjoyed how these puzzles were set up, delivering some really interesting interactions I was not expecting! Overall, I had an awesome time with The Exorcism of Isabelle, and am looking forward to trying out more of The Panic Room’s puzzle books and print and play games!

Low Points:

The game was of an easier overall difficulty for enthusiasts, as some connections were a little more direct than I was used to in some places, but this will be a boon for newer solvers. One particular puzzle was a great, tactile interaction, but sometimes it was difficult to determine how the items lined up with precision and confidence. Luckily, it wasn’t overly difficult to select what could fit and determine what made the most sense. One particular puzzle had a few letters that were semi ambiguous as well, but with as with the previous critique, there were still a limited set of letters that were possible, allowing it to be solved with just a little bit of guess and check. In speaking with the designer, however, I found them to be very open to feedback, and I’m sure these issues can be resolved before the full release.

Final Verdict:

The Exorcism of Isabelle was a loads of spooky fun! I had a brilliant time working through the many puzzles and interactions, and loved how tactile the experience was at times. Full of cleverly implemented enigmas and original puzzling, I absolutely recommend picking this book up when it releases on September 18th, 2020! I look forward to seeing what The Panic Room comes up with next, and am pleased to say their puzzle books were exactly what I was looking for. Pick up a copy of these haunting puzzles here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: The Panic Room provided our team with a complementary game.