Table-Top Escape-Room-Style Games Reviews

November 27, 2020


During Quarantine, my husband and I have been enjoying playing riddle/puzzle-style games. You only would want to play each of these games once, but if you are careful not to destroy any of the components, often you can often gift them to a friend to play. (We use the xerox setting on our printer often to copy the paper we need to fold or destroy.) Here are our favorites (ranked):

#1 The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks by Bluefish Games, $37

This game was playful and fun. We were able to solve the puzzles with just the right amount of effort, and not TOO much struggle.

The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks by Bluefish Games, $18

The sequel is also excellent.  Much like the elevator, this game was so clever.  Some of the puzzles seemed so hard, but we would try decoding it, and wham!  It would work!  I couldn’t believe we solved some of these because they were not obvious, and yet they just fit together.

#2 Witchery Spell by DarkPark Games, $58

This game was full of rich items and was a joy to play.  It took a long time to ship because it was coming from Europe, but it was worth the wait.  It’s a little pricey, but it really was a great experience. I received it as a gift from a family member. It set a ‘mood’ to the game play more successfully than any game I have ever played. I thought it was inspiring for what a game can be. This game is a little tricky to refill in order for your friends to play, but I managed it with a couple of additional purchases.

#3 Box One by Neil Patrick Harris and Theory11, $35

This game was full of unexpected delights! I took the title seriously and played it alone, but I wish I had played it with my husband to share in the joy. Just when you think you have it figured it out, there is another surprise right under your nose.

#4 Blackbrim: 1876 by Puzzling Pursuits, $30

I liked that this game was in 2 parts, so we played it over 2 nights for twice the fun. Again, this puzzle had the right amount of struggle for us to still feel accomplished when we got it, but not to feel hopeless. It's a dark and slightly puritan theme, but they stuck to it well.

#5 Taco TWOsday by Trapped Puzzle Rooms $18 X2

This game was so cute! I sent half of it to my Brother's family in another state and we played over zoom. We had a great time. This game turns the unfortunate situation of being separate from your loved ones into a feature of the game. We had to communicate clues to each other in order to solve the puzzles. The puzzles were really clever, and the puns were funny. There were enough different types of puzzles that everyone in our group had a chance to shine. Highly recommended for across-country virtual play!

#6 La Famiglia by Puzzling Pursuits $35

This is a solid, fun puzzle game! We enjoyed it.

#7 Secret of Dr. Gravely's Retreat by ThinkFun Escape The Room, $22

This is the only one that we played before 2020. We played this as a large family group at Christmas and had a blast! The puzzles were varied enough that there was one that appealed to everyone. The only downside is that it had a more corporate feel with nice, but standard, uniform materials. Some of the other games on this list have diverse physical materials that match the theme of the game and add to the fun experience.

#8 Doctor Esker’s Notebook by Plankton Games, $15

This game would be my number one pick for a game to play while travailing. It's very compact (just a deck of cards), and doesn't really require the internet (unless you need a hint, and even then it's a quick, low data-usage check). The mechanism for checking your answers is within the cards, and it's really clever. I liked the hand-drawn and cut-out style to the images. There is a North-American reference that might make the puzzle hard for Europeans.

#9 The Sunken Treasure by EXIT Kosmos, $15

This game had a very corporate feel, such that all the materials had the same glossy print finish. You don't need the internet at all, and hints are provided within the box if needed. We enjoyed it, but there were two puzzles that bugged me since it seemed like they could have been improved. Part of this could have been a cultural issue because I think this game was designed in Europe and it involved an idiosyncrasy that might be different there.

#10 Wish You Were Here Trilogy by Enigma Emporium, $15

These have not been our favorite... At times, it felt more like work than fun. They are just a set of 5 standard postcards, so no 3D thingies or interesting paper material, etc. We finished the first set, but have given up on completing the others for now. The answer-checking system was confusing and required a more high-pressure move: reaching out to a person who shares their name with an 1830s slaver. I wasn't a fan of that aspect. It turned out to be automated (not an actual person), but we couldn't be sure at the time. We wanted to play these games to relax. There were fun aspects, so maybe I'm being a little hard on it; but I guess I was left with a bad taste.

#11 Deckscape: Heist in Venice by DaVinci Games, $15

Although the concept of this game seemed solid, I think it missed the mark.  I can not recommend this game in it’s English form.  I can imagine that in it’s original Italian, it might be a lot better.  There were quite a few translation issues that were just a little bit off, and made me wonder at first if they were a subtle clue.  However, the one that really clinched it for me was a big translation error that completely ruined a puzzle.  Honestly, I have reread it a dozen times now, and I still don’t know what they were trying to say.  I’m assuming that it’s a poor translation? Maybe we still just don't get it?

Others: The Missed Flight by Puzzle Post, $18

We haven't played this one yet because it seems really targeted at sending to a loved one. We sent it to my brother, but he hasn't played it yet. I'll update this once he does!


The Tale of Ord

Hack Forward (we are in the process of playing)

The Emerald Flame (we are in the process of playing)

Memory Stone

More reviews?

Check out this great site: Escape the Review

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