Fast Familiar: The Curse of the Burial Dagger | Review


The Curse of the Burial Dagger Review | When everyone is a suspect, and a killer is on the loose, is anybody safe? A mansion near Dundee, 1923. Susie Sato finds herself investigating a murder when her great-uncle and host Lord Hamilton is found dead in his private museum, an ancient Egyptian burial dagger protruding from his back. Could it be the curse of the dagger, an object Lord Hamilton was warned not to remove from the tomb? Or could something else have caused his death?

Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 20th October 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Narrative Driven (aka easy-ish)

Fast Familiar are one of those ‘experience creators’ who I have all notifications switched on for. When they create a new game – whatever it looks like – I’m first in line in the metaphorical queue at midnight to get my hands on it. The Curse of the Burial Dagger was no different. Even though it’s not quite an escape room (technically it is a forensic science game), it’s got buckets of that light hearted comedy, fun puzzles, and rich diverse characters I come to expect of all Fast Familiar games. It’s also been developed in collaboration with the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science. Meaning, it’s also educational.

How quickly can I press play?! Will I be judged if I play twice, or even three times?

Another huge fan of the Fast Familiar series, Rebecca and I teamed up together to take on the new, murder mystery challenge on a Wednesday evening in October where the stars were out outside and murder was afoot within!

An Introduction to Forensic Science

Our main character, the lovable Suzie Sato (who I may have a slight crush on) is a forensic science student. In this adventure, she’s walked right into a murder scene – the perfect opportunity to put her skills to the test! This is where you, the players come in. Suzie talks directly to the camera in a series of graphic novel style panels and its up to you, the players, to draw conclusions from the evidence presented and the interviews she conducts.

This is what I mean when I say it’s not exactly an escape game. No, this is a visual novel game which is occasionally broken up with a puzzle or two, and at the end you must make a judgement on who you think the killer truly is. There are two things you want to watch out for when solving this game:

  • What the characters say – hidden among the jokes and humorous encounters are some real nuggets of truth. Who said they were where, when, and why?
  • The conclusions from the scientific and mathematical puzzles you solve with Suzie. What do they really tell you about the scene?

Science is Fun

In terms of those mathematical and scientific puzzles, these are rooted in real life forensic science techniques, and players can expect to grapple with a number of styles including mathematical puzzles, chromatography puzzles, fingerprint analysis, and so on. There are also more ‘traditional’ escape room style puzzles, including jigsaws and spot the difference and cross-referencing data.

Since The Curse of the Burial Dagger is recommended for players aged 10 and above, it’s not too difficult. Yes, we did get very hung up on the maths puzzle, but so did I when we played Bad Altitude earlier this year.

In addition to traditional puzzles, there’s a really interesting murder mystery deduction mechanic to the game which really sets this game apart from others in the genre. Along the way you as players can make deductions and assumptions by ranking different statements as “likely” or “not likely”. At any time you can go back and alter your statements if you change your mind or make a mistake. This was really cool and unlike anything else I’ve seen in a murder mystery game, but it just worked so well! It also set up the premise of what you need to be looking out for.

A Lesson in Brilliant Storytelling

If you took out all the interactivity and just made this a graphic novel book, heck I’d still buy it. If you turned it into a TV show, I’d binge it. If you did this experience in any other medium it would still be excellent – and that’s good storytelling! One of the best things about Fast Familiar is that they always get this spot on.

For starters, there’s the characters:

  • Suzie, played by Ami Okumura Jones
  • Syed, played by Jamie Zubairi
  • Lady Hamilton, played by Rachel Donovan
  • Struana, played by Sarah Waddell
  • Hywel, played by Delme Thomas

Then, there’s the humour. With excellent writing from Dan Barnard, Delme Thomas and Rachel Briscoe I’d expect nothing less – but The Curse of the Burial Dagger is particularly amusing and jsut enough twists to keep us hooked right until the end.

The Verdict

The Curse of the Burial Dagger is a fantastic experience. Unmissable if you’re a fan of murder mysteries, and something a little outside of the box if you’re more of a traditional escape room audience. Once again Fast Familiar have nailed it and their new game is perfect for all audiences.

The Curse of the Burial Dagger can be booked on Fast Familiar’s website here.


Escape Hunt: Murder at the Mansion | Review


Escape Hunt: Murder at the Mansion Review | As the sole heir to the family fortune, it’s up to you and your team of detectives to solve the crime. Go back to the fateful night of a lavish party at the old Blackwood estate, where Sir Charles’ body was discovered. Can you put the suspects under the microscope to discover who did it, where and with what? Sift through the evidence and step deep into a world of mystery and intrigue!

Date Played: 2020
Number of Players: 1
Difficulty: Medium
Time Taken: 60 minutes

Now, this print at home/online murder mystery ticks every box for those who love a who done it case!

The story, back in 1914, the owner of a wealthy estate died under mysterious circumstances. With the war looming, the case went cold and no one had been charged with his murder. A Will has since emerged over 100 years later, with you as the sole beneficiary –  you are attempting to solve this cold case, find out his killer and gain your rightful inheritance! 

In short – love the story! I think it sits beautifully with a print at home game where you can have multiple pieces of evidence and pull it all together. The element of the case going cold due to the war is a great touch – not only does it make the story line believable, it adds to the feel of the game and provides a greater insight into the world you are being plunged into. 

The initial aspect of the game is at print at home PDF document. It contains some vastly detailed, well produced documents which set the scene nicely – great attention to detail and some strong characters aide your experience. This is much like an old-school puzzle book elimination puzzle where you have to work out who did what, where they did it and what they did it with – but on a much more elaborate scale!   

Unlike the online escape games where things are much more linear, the printed materials provide a great way of building a case file against the prime suspects, where everything isn’t black and white or on one screen! Some “puzzles” are on the simple side where it is easy to understand what suspect the evidence relates too – other are much more complex and will call on numerous pieces of evidence to understand the motives of the killer. As such, families with older children, couples and enthusiasts alike, will all enjoy this game and bring something to the table!

In addition to the printed materials, there is a handy online hint and answers page which you can refer to. It is particularly helpful that this doesn’t form part of your printed materials, as not to spoil the game by accidentally reading the answers! There were moments we were tempted to check for answers but I’m too proud to do that so carried on regardless! (Although from looking at them after the game, these are really well put together, easy to understand and provide just enough level of hint without spoiling the game play). 

Without giving too much away, cleverly, the finale to this game isn’t as part of your printed materials – the use of email and internet is therefore also required to solve the mystery. Further evidence comes to light which, as long as all your other answers have been solved, allows you to complete your mission and rightfully gain your inheritance! A strong finale to this game ensured we went away happy with our hours-worth of detective skills! 

All-in-all, a well rounded game, with great puzzles, a strong design and good story telling. A real treat for families and enthusiasts alike, this game comes really highly recommended. Take an hour out of your day to become the detective you were born to be! 

Murder at the Mansion can be downloaded from Escape Hunt’s website here.


Thimbleweed Park | Review


A haunted hotel, an abandoned circus, a burnt-out pillow factory, a dead body pixelating under the bridge, toilets that run on vacuum tubes… you’ve never visited a place like this before. Five people with nothing in common have been drawn to this rundown, forgotten town. They don’t know it yet, but they are all deeply connected. And they’re being watched.

Time Played: 30+ hours
Console: PC / Nintendo Switch / PS4
Recommended For: Fans of the mystery and macabre in videogame form

The signals are very strong tonight… 🐦

Thimbleweed Park is what you get when you cross 80s retro adventure games with Twin Peaks, add X-Files’ Scully and Mulder to the cast, and destroy the 4th wall altogether. In short: It’s wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better puzzle game to spend the last *checks notes* 7 months playing.

Grizzly murder and terrible hotdogs

For a game set in the 1980s it’s got none of the neon garishness we associate with the era, no. Thimbleweed park is beige and brown full of dark corners, grizzly murders, and terrible hotdogs.

It all begins with two secret agents arriving in the mysterious town of Thimbleweed Park to investigate a body found underneath the bridge. Pretty soon, the body is the least of the agent’s problems, as they soon explore the town and talk to the denizens to find out what they know. There’s an abandoned factory on the outskirts of the town, a very haunted hotel, a bakery that only sells mechanical tubes, a fairground with one resident, and a vast labyrinth of sewer tunnels… To name a few of the delightful places you’ll get to explore in Thimbleweed Park!

More curious than the setting… I couldn’t have asked for a more unusual cast of characters in this mystery adventure game. Over the course of the game you play as five unrelated characters as their lives verge towards an apex that is the game’s finale:

Agent Ray – One of the two main characters we meet right at the start of Thimbleweed Park. Agent Ray is here to get stuff done and take no nonsense from anybody.

Agent Reyes – He is the second secret agent we meet, and a slightly more mild mannered counterpart to Agent Ray. From a different city, he is also assigned with investigating the murder.

Dolores Edmund – A budding young video game developer – keen to create adventure games no less – and one of the heirs to her uncle’s pillow estate. After leaving to work for a game design company, she returns for the reading of her uncle’s will, but not all is as it seems.

Ransome the Clown – One of the *beep* main *beep* characters who can’t stop *beep* swearing. Ransome was cursed after being characteristically rude to the town witch who then condemned him to spend a lifetime eternity living in the abandoned fairground. In 1977 and 78 he won the “Meanest Clown” trophies.

Franklin Edmund – The late father of Dolores Edmund, Franklin is the only playable ghost character! This means he can’t interact with the living, but he plays an integral role to solving puzzles from afar.

Point & Click Nostalgia

Thimbleweed Park is the modern day, logical conclusion to classic 1980s and 90s point-and-click adventure games. It utilises a “Use X on Y” mechanic that took my Gen Z brain a very long time to get the hang of. I also opted to play this game on Nintendo Switch, as I believe some games are best played hiding under a blanket at midnight and I wanted the flexibility of taking Thimbleweed Park with me on my own adventures. But the Switch is very unforgiving and between the left joycon strafing and the pixel-perfect clicks in some puzzles, I almost gave up many times.

I think I would have liked this game more back in the 90s – a simpler time when I had nothing better to do with my life. There’s a quote on the internet somewhere that calls Thimbleweed Park alienating to an audience who didn’t play games like this, and I kinda see it. The adventure aspect of Thimbleweed Park dragged a little bit. Between January and July I had an on-again, off-again commitment to this game and each time returning from a break feeling further away from the plot than before.

But each time oddly felt like coming home, with each resident’s funny manner of speech and quirks, repeatedly eating the mouldy hot dogs, and returning to the crime scene to poke the body. A strange kind of home, but home indeed. Perhaps I took so long because I didn’t want the game to end!

Two Modes: Casual or Hard

When setting up the game you can choose from many settings (including whether you want the toilet paper to face in or out), but the most important decision is whether to play Thimbleweed Park in Casual or Hard mode. I chose to play it in Hard. Regrets? Nah, not really. I’m here for the puzzle game and so I wanted to solve some puzzles.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a really hard time with it. The puzzles in this game, as with many classic adventure games are centred around performing actions in a certain, mostly logical way. The multiple characters allow for a deeper level of complexity as you often have to navigate many characters to different areas to perform sequences simultaneously.

Sounds simple? Well, there are a lot of puzzles that I can’t fathom how you would be able to solve them without hints, and others which I still don’t understand. Spoiler Alert: I mean who else knew that you can steam stamps off envelopes by placing letters in microwaves with bowls of water? Not me, I lost hours of my life to that ‘puzzle’.

The flip side is that most of the game is delightful and the aha moment of finally piecing something together is brilliant. I really do enjoy the genre and wish I’d been around when it was at it’s heyday before 2000.

The Verdict?

The grizzly murder was committed by none other than… Oh wait, you meant did I enjoy the game? I did!

I often apply a metric whereby if the amount of hours I spent playing the game is greater than the cost I paid for it, £1 = 1 hour, then the game was good value for money for me. It falls down at escape room games costing £100 + for 1 hour’s play, or Skyrim that I’ve played over 600 hours in, but let’s suspend disbelief and apply it to Thimbleweed Park. I spent £15 on Thimbleweed Park and I played it for well over 30 hours. 30 hours of frustration and wonder…. Well worth it then!

If you want to purchase Thimbleweed Park yourself, head to their website here.

Choose Your Own DEADventure – The Case of the Clown in the Woods | Review


A body has been found in the woods. A body dressed as a clown. Who would want him dead and why? It is time to call in Detective Slaughter and Constable Butcher of the RCI “Remote Control Investigations” Department. A new initiative to bring audience interactions to the front of the case. Every great investigator has their tech support back at the office. The guys in the chair. The boys in the back. Ethan Hunt has Luther and Benji. Jack Bauer has Chloe O’Brien. Even Annika Rice had a team in the studio. And we have you.

Detective Slaughter & Co. on the case!

The last thing I expected to do on a Sunday afternoon was to solve a thrilling murder case via Zoom, livestreamed as Detective Slaughter & Constable Butcher chased down witnesses and killers through muddy parks and alleys in London… But teamed up with 8 other individuals this is exactly what we did! Play Dead London‘s latest online murder mystery is equal parts creative and very unique and themed around a rather curious case of a dead clown.

This play at home murder mystery game puts you at the heart of a mystery that isn’t at all what it seems at first glance. You join a Zoom call with a number of strangers (or friends, if you book your ticket together), and are introduced to Detective Slaughter. You’re on their taskforce and they’ve just received a call about a really unusual death in a nearby park.

Not wanting all these detectives muddying the crime scene (or more likely to do with the *cough* global panini), you join remotely from the RCI (Remote Control Investigations) HQ whilst Constable Butcher plays your eyes and ears in a real-life location. But that’s not to say you don’t get to do any detective work – quite the opposite – it’s your role to choose where Butcher goes and what Butcher does. You also have the important job of interviewing each of the suspects in turn.

It’s like Zoom was built for murder mysteries

This is where the video conference platform, Zoom, really comes into it’s own – it’s almost like it was made for murder mysteries. At key points in the game as a collective group, you all get to vote on the next action with a very handy ‘pop-up’ on screen. To be more specific, your detective will reach a crossroads:

Should we:

  • Stop to investigate the mysterious old tree
  • Or follow the suspect on foot

How you vote will change the outcome of the whole adventure – choose to go one way and not the other and you may miss out on a clue which cracks the whole case. The decision is yours.

Further into the game the list of suspects started to grow. Play Dead London mentioned in advance that we’d be split off into breakout rooms at points in the game, but what this really meant was that we’d be able to interview suspects in a private room in real time. Very cool, and a lot more interactive than I’d expected it to get!

The Case of the Clown in the Woods

So what is the case exactly? The Case of the Clown in the Woods begins at the discover of the body and ends with around eight actors together, ready for your final verdict as you make the most important vote of the night and point a finger at the culprit. After searching the body, Constable Butcher discovers a number of objects that lead to new locations and you quickly discover that this clown is working at a nearby travelling circus. There’s mystery afoot and a tangled web of lies following the clown as you’ll meet their colleagues, love interest, business partner and so on.

When it comes to this case, you’ll get out as much as you put in…. And honestly? I struggled! But I did get the answer correct at the end, with a little bit of brain power and elbow grease. It’s all about social deduction and asking the right questions to the right witnesses – neither of which I did correctly, so lucky guess or gut feeling either way, I’ve the making of a detective within me that’s for sure.

A round of applause for the cast!

The absolute highlight of the show was interacting with the actors! Each cast member of this 8-member crew played a fantastic role in building suspense and setting the scene. I absolutely loved the extravagance of it all – from chanting at poor Constable Butcher to run faster as he sped through the open space, to the twists and turns each new person brought to the story.

In particular, I loved the actors who played the roles at Police HQ and TP Barnuts, the latter of which a commanding and slightly terrifying circus leader with excellent lipstick. But each and every character brought their own brand of hilarious, larger than life special sauce to the show. A round of applause!

Photo (c) Play Dead London pre-lockdown!

Recommended For…

Let’s face it, returning to work or big social gatherings isn’t going to immediately go back to how it was pre-lockdown for a very, very long time. So I’d recommend this game for anyone looking for something a little bit different for an office team building event, or a party with a big group of friends… From the comfort of your own home!

If you’re neither of those groups and are just really into murder mysteries *cough* like I am, you can book a single or a household ticket instead and join a group of strangers for the ‘main show’ before splitting off into your private breakout rooms to interview the suspects.

In either case, it’s a really great way to spend an evening and I can’t emphasise enough how much fun I had with Play Dead London. Did I mention they also do real-life mysteries? That’s one to watch out for when they return later in the year!

You can book a ticket to play The Case of the Clown in the Woods over on Design My Night, or see what other shows they have running on Play Dead London.

Cryptology: The Complete Guide


Cryptology goes beyond just an escape room, this is an immersive experience. Search for secrets, discover clues and hints, then solve puzzles to reach the unique goal. Every game at Cryptology is different with tailor-made themes and bespoke challenges. With fantastic game flow, handcrafted set design, and unique puzzles – their games are admired by enthusiasts, gamers, families, and friends alike. Their games are immersive and rewarding and they pride themselves on great customer service and banter too.

Why Cryptology?

We at Escaping the Closet are HUGE fans of the Cryptology Rooms, and can proudly say that we have played all of their rooms across both locations as well as previous rooms that are now decommissioned (boo 😭 ). Cryptology rooms combine unique themes, innovative puzzles and exciting use of technology to provide some of our favourite escape experiences we have come across among all of the hundreds that we’ve played!

As we have so much to say about Cryptology, we thought it would be best to bundle it all into one big review to showcase just how amazing Cryptology is and why, if you haven’t already, you should check them out for what we can guarantee to be a brilliantly immersive escape experience!

So…we thought long and hard about how best to do Cryptology justice when writing this (almost felt like a puzzle in itself!! – can we collect dream keys for this?). We decided that we just have to tell you about the highlights from each and every room of theirs to date- we can promise that there is something in there to suit everyone’s preferences!


In their own words…”Before the boom of escape rooms across the country, Cryptology opened in Nottingham city centre in July of 2015. It was conceived after playing mediocre escape games across the country and recognising a niche in being able to stand out.”

Cryptology currently has two branches open: their flagship in Nottingham, and one very conveniently in our hometown of Sheffield. They previously also had a branch in Barnsley, which is unfortunately now closed (think that’s more to do with Barnsley not exactly being a hub for escape rooms than anything else…), but LUCKILY we managed to pop over to Barnsley and play both the rooms which were on offer before it closed.

Mark and Simon, the owners of Cryptology, are just the kind of people you want to be creating escape rooms- enthusiastic, imaginative, creative and also practical. You can tell from their rooms and all the clever tech that they know what they’re doing! They are also a lot of fun (we have had some very funny moments in all the games they have run for us) and have a team around them that reflect their own values and enthusiasm for good escape rooms, meaning that the calibre of the experience is equally high every visit!

So onto the main attraction- the rooms!!!! We are going to break this down by location, and then the order in which we played the rooms.


Our first experience of Cryptology was in Sheffield when we got super excited to hear that a new escape room brand was just opening right in the middle of West Street! (5 mins walk from uni?! Incredible! Let’s get booked in IMMEDIATELY!!!!).  And boy are we pleased to have such a brilliant brand of escapes right on our doorstep!

First Contact


The game that introduced us to Cryptology- and what a game it was! We played this with our friends and regular escape companions, Tasha and Rach, and all four of us LOVED it! There was simply so much to do! In this game, you are tasked with boarding the TRSS Caelus to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship orbiting Mars whose communication has ceased…

What Cryptology does brilliantly is immersion, which you’ll soon see as a common theme from all of the games. In this case you really do leave Earth, truly feeling like you are on board a spaceship. The set, tech and lighting all contribute towards this, offering a vibe that fits somewhere between Dr Who and Red Dwarf! Of course this room is super high tech. It’s amazing how well the space is used, and how all the puzzles make sense with the theme and storyline, which of course is the best way to make a game totally immersive!

Now for our favourite aspect- the timer and clue system is so perfectly integrated into the room (part of the crew, part of the ship…. I know that’s a pirate ship reference rather than a spaceship reference, but it kinda works here…). The timer countdown is completely congruous and the clue system is so interactive, you can fully have a conversation with your game master through the ship’s computer, adding to the fun! When you reach a certain point in the mission, you are faced with a choice- this enables three different final puzzle sequences of varying difficulty. We’d recommend making your choice based on the time you have left on the clock, as this enables a satisfying ending for most teams to be able to complete the game at an appropriate difficulty level. We opted for the most challenging ending and, thankfully, managed to complete the full mission and make first contact (YAY!)

We thought this was such a good game to showcase the fun of an escape room that Ash even replayed it! She chose this as the room to take a group of escape newbie friends to when they came to visit! (Don’t worry, there was no cheating to snatch a new record time- Ash held back on solving anything, leaving that to her pals so they could get the full enjoyment and take the full time!) One of the great things about this room was the sheer volume to get done, as well as the decision making aspect leading to a multi-choice ending, meaning that Ash had a chance to focus on different puzzles than the first time around when she played!

The Mysterious Case of Hugh Dunnitt


This was a room we were eagerly awaiting the opening of- after playing First Contact and gushing about how much we had enjoyed it, Simon told us about the plans for Sheffield’s second room, Hugh Dunnitt. So it was on our list before it had even been built, and we got in to play it within a few weeks of its opening! Suffice to say that it did not disappoint, and offered more of the brilliance we had become accustomed to from Cryptology’s rooms.

A murder mystery with a fabulous twist, this room offers a great mix of puzzle solving and ‘things to do’. The storyline is a big part of the room and unfolds as you progress through, so you know more at the end than the mystery you start off with.

This is a really fun room with the ‘things to do’ element of the room meaning everyone can get really stuck in and feel properly involved. The clue system, as with Cryptology’s other rooms, is interactive and funny, and perfectly designed to fit in with the room’s story and theme, making it a thoroughly immersive experience. Additionally, as you progress through the room the pressure ramps up to encourage you to get everything solved in time. This is cleverly done and Hugh Dunnitt is a really enjoyable and commendable room!

We managed to escape in time, and set the fastest escape time at the time (we know we played shortly after it’s grand opening so it may well have been beaten several times over by now!) 

Side note- we recommended this room to a couple of different escape newbie friends of ours in Sheffield and both groups managed to escape in time, thoroughly enjoyed their experience and already want to do more escape rooms, so success all round- and let the addiction commence!😉

Welcome to your Afterlife


Afterlife is a room which was originally run by X-it games, based in Shipley, and we had been meaning to venture up there…then COVID happened of course, scuppering our plans! However, during the lockdowns Cryptology announced the exciting news that they would be opening Afterlife right here on our doorstep in Sheffield! Opportunity knocked, and of course what could we do but get ourselves booked in for as soon as we possibly could upon its opening?! (but you’ve just spent the past however many months being locked in and the first thing you want to post-lockdown is lock yourself in somewhere?! HELL (and purgatory and heaven) YES!) Our lovely friend and regular escaping companion, Tasha, kindly treated us to play Afterlife as a joint birthday present, and boy was it a great way to celebrate our birthdays!

As a mortal, to enter your afterlife, you must first die. How you die is your choice but all must enter through the void of transcendence. Only the brave will follow the light, crawl out of the grave and go to hell and back. Logical thinking and teamwork is what you need to ensure that when your hour is up your name is found in the Book of Life.

In Afterlife, a brilliant journey through purgatory, hell and then heaven has been created, and the set is completely immersive; through the amazing decor you are authentically transported to each setting; each being completely different in style, surroundings and the overall vibes.

Starting as it means to go on is a unique setup to throw you straight into the confusion that is the Afterlife. Led into the Afterlife by the Grim Reaper herself, and greeted by a creepy companion advising you of what has happened once locked into the otherworldly realms that come with death, you have to listen carefully in order to move on and find out what happens next…

Purgatory sets you up with a multi-faceted puzzle, combining elements from all around the room in order to successfully get ourselves out of purgatory. You have to combine riddles, logic, physical and mathematical puzzles in order to find the solutions needed to escape purgatory… just watch out for those red herrings(!)

Unfortunately, escaping purgatory leads you straight into the pits of hell! And the puzzles in this section seemed to almost be tailored to our own personal escape room hell- SEARCHING! However, we managed to overcome the puzzles in spite of our demons and successfully solved the spooky puzzles. We did end up brute forcing one part of a puzzle, through the process of elimination, when our searching skills failed us. But we got there which was a relief, since after hell comes heaven!

YES! But, before you can enter and sign your name in the Book of Life, it turns out you’ve been locked out of heaven and have to prove your worth by showing off your puzzling escape room skills! We did have a moment of hesitation here, unsure whether we were cut out to be angels when we couldn’t manage to unlock the pearly gates, but fortunately we figured it out and managed to get our hands on the coveted Book of Life, and proudly sign Escaping the Closet’s name where it belongs!

Afterlife was brilliantly atmospheric and a triumphant return to Cryptology Sheffield. We managed to successfully make it out with 25 mins to spare (Our lovely host, Robyn, told us that this was the record so far, which we were pretty chuffed with!) We’re pleased that we weren’t left to wander the Afterlife for all eternity…plenty more time for plenty more escapes YAY!!


Nottingham is only about an hour’s journey from where we live in Sheffield, and makes for a great day out as it’s filled with great food places (a big + for us, shout-out to the Pudding Pantry), and loads of escape room opportunities! It’s therefore one of our favourite go-to day trip spots! We’ve done all their rooms here, and had a blast every time.



After loving their Sheffield and Barnsley (😢) rooms, we decided to pay a visit to Cryptology Nottingham and were highly looking forward to seeing what they had to offer.

Our host, Sam, met us at the door, dressed suitably for a slumber…we were introduced to the game, told to expect a very fast-paced and frantic experience, especially with only two of us, to manage the mammoth task of collecting up to 20 dream keys across 5 dream rooms!!

The rooms were incredible – Dreamscape plays out like an escape room fan’s actual dream, with a huge volume of puzzles, all focussing on different strengths, and a great flow between each of the dreams! Each dream was so different from the previous and the types of puzzles in each room were SO cleverly tied into the feel of the dream you find yourself in. We spent most of the game working separately to try and tackle the volume of puzzles we were faced with – but we did come together a few times for some particularly tricky bits! We tried to separate according to our strengths (but in hindsight it was probably whoever got to the puzzle first! 😅). 

There are also some more overarching puzzles that come together for the end of the experience to make your final escape – we loved the finale and were really impressed with how Cryptology brought everything together for a cohesive and satisfying finish. Overall, a jam-packed experience, with no quiet moments and the most puzzles we have EVER seen! The theme itself and the gameplay was completely original and unique, we would highly recommend making the journey to play. Sam was also a lovely game master, who did a great job of making the experience immersive from start to finish!

We were also super pleased to get the fastest duo time of 52:20 and 15 dream keys! This was our first ever 5⭐️ rated room and Ash reckons this is her favourite room EVER! 😁

Cypherdyne v1.5


You and your team have been selected to take part in a legendary Cypherdyne interview. A challenging and disarming hour-long interview that is rumoured to not just separate the wheat from the chaff but discard the chaff entirely. Unsure what to expect, the promise of a great job in this dire economy is enough for you to face whatever escape challenge the CEO has set for you. Your career may be unlocked and explode with opportunity!

A brilliant birthday present from Al to Ash was a Cryptology voucher and when the opportunity finally arose for us to be able to return to escaping, we booked in a mammoth escape-a-thon to play out the remaining Cryptology rooms we had; Cypherdyne, Rameseize and Daylight Robbery. We thought Daylight Robbery would be the showstopper so saved that for last, and dove straight in with Cypherdyne v1.5. After all, what would you rather be doing on a day off from work than a job interview?!

Cypherdyne’s interview felt like what those ‘think outside the box’ questions Oxbridge candidates get challenged with in their interview processes… there was no obvious interview task, that was for us as the candidates to figure out as part of the process. We had to crack security codes, find hidden doorways and mess with the computer hardwiring to stand a chance of being hired by Cypherdyne.Thankfully we had our heads screwed on and managed this all!

Although the room starts off appearing rather innocuous, there are the usual high-tech touches  that Mark and Simon are so great at including in their rooms, which enable their puzzles to stand out from other escape rooms we’ve played. Although this is not our favourite Cryptology room, it is still commendable and well worth playing when you pay Cryptology a visit! Overall we’d give Cypherdyne v1.5 a 3.5/5 rating.



Next up in our Cryptology-a-thon was Rameseize, which we want to give an award to for the best name for an Egyptian themed room! As you may expect, with this room you are tasked with ransacking Rameses’ tomb to ‘seize’ three ancient relics before your rival treasure hunters catch you up and bury you alive in the tomb to claim the treasure for themselves. As usual, no pressure then hey!

Rameseize has a great variety of puzzles that are all completely in keeping with the Egpytian theme, and the immersion is top notch as always thanks to Cryptology’s high standards of decoration for their games.

There were some very cool and clever elements to this room! We were given a number of items at the start of the game to help us with the challenges ahead and liked how important these were to get us going, and keep coming back to throughout the game. Communication was key in this room, in particular for a puzzle near the end of the tomb heist! Playing as just a pair, we were very grateful of how well we work together in these kinds of situations as we needed to be on our game- Rameseize is the sort of room that can be played by large group sizes due to the size and volume of puzzles to get through in the time.

We enjoyed the challenge and liked how the tech used in this room worked to make the space feel like a booby-trapped tomb this time- even though it was very clever modern-day tech, it made us feel transported to a cursed tomb! A really fun game and although Egypt is a common escape room theme, it feels really fresh in Rameseize, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it no matter how many other Egyptian escape rooms you’ve previously played (plus you get to carry round a very cool staff!)

Daylight Robbery


Onto the final Cryptology Nottingham room in existence (we are waiting for the scary room that we hope is to come…!), and our second heist of the day. This time, it wasn’t a cursed pyramid, but a high-security bank.

Cryptology are always great at creating a really immersive, authentic space for their rooms, but Daylight Robbery is SOMETHING ELSE! The Nottingham Cryptology HQ is in an old bank and so the brilliance of Daylight Robbery is that this bank heist takes place in an ACTUAL BANK VAULT.

Similar to Dreamscape, Daylight Robbery is a room which can cater to teams of all sizes and abilities as this is another ‘collect as much as you can’ challenge! Only this time it’s not dream keys we’re after, but as much valuable swag stowed away in the bank as possible! You can keep track of how much you have managed to get your hands on throughout the game by scanning each item before bagging it up for a quick getaway, to keep a running total value.

But before you can start nabbing other people’s valuable possessions, you have to infiltrate the bank to reach the vault. This involves a series of puzzles before negotiating the classic laser trigger alarm system- one of the most fun sections to encounter in any room and make you feel like you’re in your favourite spy film (or St Trinian’s- we won’t judge if this is your fave film using laser alarms!).

Again, as just a pair, in a room that can cater to large group sizes, we had our work cut out for us, and although we feel we made a valiant effort, there were some internal vaults we didn’t even manage to get into- testament to just how vast this game really is! The separate vaults were all thematically grouped so there was an opportunity for everyone to be able to puzzle to their strengths! These included music, logic, maths, spatial awareness, searching, physical puzzles, using technology and much more, and often the swag itself was a clue to help solve a puzzle! There was simply so much to do that even the most experienced, full-sized, team is not likely to manage to take home the FULL jackpot!

We managed to retrieve over ¾ of a million pounds, so we feel that although we aren’t the best robbers in the bank, we could make a reputable name for ourselves… then again ‘Robbing the Closet’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as ‘Escaping the Closet’, so maybe we’ll stick to our day job (we WISH escaping was our full-time day job! We can dream….!)

Mark was our host for Daylight Robbery and once we’d completed the game, he did a brilliant debrief with us, showing us how we could’ve accessed the vaults we didn’t make it into and the puzzles within this, and even showing us a really well-hidden easter egg in the room! If anyone has played Daylight Robbery and successfully found this themselves during their gameplay we would love to hear from you! He also told us about the potential plans for a future room which we are INCREDIBLY excited about and can’t wait for news on this development!

Barnsley (branch now closed)

Although the Barnsley branch is now closed and so it’s no longer possible to play these rooms, we couldn’t leave them out as both were brilliant and deserve the recognition too!

HMS Cypher


We played this one knowing the Cryptology brand having played a few already and therefore expecting good things! We took a group of friends to join us for this one, and we were all kept really busy on board HMS Cypher!

HMS Cypher, takes you on board a WW2 battleship, and as always, you get fully immersed, feeling as if you are on deck of the ship from both the setting and the puzzles. In terms of the puzzles, think morse code, maps, co-ordinates and walkie talkies, everything makes sense that it is there. You know that you are deciphering messages being sent to the ship, following instructions to set the right course for the ship, all to keep everything ship shape.

We really enjoyed this game and while it isn’t one of their showstopper rooms, it was a lot of fun and really demonstrates the solidly good rooms we have come to expect from their brand. We’d give HMS Cypher a solid 3.5/5 and we were very sad to see it close!



Last but by no means least is Insanctuary. Although Insanctuary no longer exists, we hold it very fondly in our memories as it was such a brilliant game. In Insanctuary, you were tasked with exploring an abandoned facility to try to find out what has happened to everyone. This was a creepy theme and it was executed brilliantly; the decor was really creepy and effective, black gunk creeping through the cracks in the walls, giving the room IMMENSE Stranger Things vibes. This set Al and our teammate Rach on edge, leaving Ash to be the brave one- always the first to be pushed into a room in case anything scary jumped out at us (it didn’t!).

You had to piece the various clues together, get into all of the patients’ abandoned rooms and log into the corrupt scientists’ computer system to find out just what was going on! Turns out there was a rift between different worlds and the disappeared people had ended up being sucked into the other world. So, like no big deal… But seriously, this final room was spectacular- the decoration was so effective in creating an otherworldly sci-fi/horror vibe and although this room was not scary, it felt like the kind of room that could easily have been made terrifying if that was the intention!

We had a great time playing Insanctuary, and hope that Simon had fun hosting us; we had a lot of banter with him through the room’s clue system (which certainly gave some comic relief to scaredy cat Rach to help her through the game!). At one point, UV lighting was used and it highlighted some shoe graffiti Alice had lovingly added to Ash’s SHOES in UV security pen without her knowing! In the most escape room-y way possible, the hidden message of ‘I <3 escape rooms’ was written boldly on Ash’s trainers so Simon got to see the extent of our escape room addiction! Definitely lost any remaining street cred at that point…but we saved the world from the otherworldly portal rift, so who are the real winners, hey!

We loved this room and were very sad to hear that the Barnsley branch had closed and with it, Insanctuary! It truly is a shame that no more teams get the opportunity to play it! But it really is a commendable room and one that we will always remember fondly!

So, that’s it- all of the Cryptology rooms on offer (and then some). We have loved all of our experiences playing Cryptology’s games and we hope to see lots more of the same clever, immersive, high-tech, story driven games from them in future! We will be first in line for any and every new game they bring out, because they are one of the most reliably good brands we know! 

So what are you waiting for? Get booking your very own Crypt-athon, you won’t regret it!

You can find out more and book to play Cryptology’s games

Scarlet Envelope: Breakfast for a Serial Killer | Review


“Extraordinary Weekly”, 10/30/1956: “The death of Janice Ward, a young mother of two and a waitress at Stanley’s Diner, is being investigated in connection to similar cases in the state…” This time, Game Master assigns you to work as a cop in the fifties. Bring justice to the victims of a serial killer who clearly has a thing for junk food! Expect case files, coroner’s reports, & footage of suspects’ interrogations.

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 1st May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Armchair detectives and amateur sleuths!


You can win a copy of Breakfast for a Serial Killer from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!

TW: This game contains themes of murder and domestic violence. It is non graphic and I think suitable for players aged 13+ with parental supervision.

Breakfast for a Serial Killer is the 4th chapter in the Scarlet Envelope series and this time we’re in 1950s Canada complete with cute hairstyles, diners and- of course- murder! In all sense of the word, this game is a classic murder mystery. 5 suspects, 2 victims, and you the detective. You’ve been sent back in time to catch a serial killer before they go on to kill again. Exciting? Heck yeah! I love murder mystery games.

Breakfast for a Serial Killer takes a linear format. What this means is you interview each suspect one after the other and as each new testimony becomes available you gain access to new pieces of evidence. The game holds your hand through the mystery slightly: you only know what you need to know. Each reveal is a new “aha!” moment revealing just enough to keep you guessing!

The final whodunnit is entirely up to you however. Even after following the game diligently and listening to everything twice, I still needed to pause before I made my guess. “Is this too obvious a guess?”, “But what about this character”, “This person is definitely lying”.

Thankfully, I guessed correctly! *flex* but more on that later!

The Story

A body is found at Stanley’s Diner a little after 2am – it is the head waitress, Janice! With only 5 people in the diner at the time of death, there aren’t a lot of suspects. But the most curious thing is that this murder bears a striking resemblance to another, only a week earlier. Do we have a serial killer on the loose? Gather the evidence, interview the suspects, and make an arrest.

The Experience

Like all of the Scarlet Envelope games, the experience begins when you receive a mysterious red envelope through your letterbox! Breakfast for a Serial Killer is packed! It contains a lot of material for such a small envelope – especially when compared to Distress Call from Outer Space which is largely online.

You receive a menu, an autopsy report, instructions, suspect profiles, and a few mysterious items found on the body. Elsewhere are three pieces of ‘further evidence’ that you mustn’t open until prompted. To get started, you head online and begin your investigation – ergo, interviewing the suspects!

This game is a little like the videogame “L.A. Noire” (set later and not in L.A. of course). One of the key mechanics in L.A. Noire is the facial mapping of actors telling the truth and lying. Players must literally look for subtle clues as to who is telling the truth. Breakfast for a Serial Killer does a similar thing in it’s video interviews!

I really, really enjoyed the watching the interviews and spent wayy too long rewinding parts to be like “oh this character touched their face when they said this! They must be lying“. It makes you feel like a real detective! People, after all, are the greatest puzzle to be solved!

At the time of writing, only two suspects have video performances. The other three are audio-only. I don’t know if the creators have plans to add more video content but it would be a super nice touch to see in the future!

At the end of each video, you also receive a sample of additional evidence – items each suspect has in their pockets: A bus ticket, some coins, a leaflet, that sort of thing. The game then prompts a question which you must answer by inputting a password before you can proceed.

The Puzzles

For me, Breakfast for a Serial Killer errs on the side of “ok this wasn’t too hard”. I say this having found every other game in the series quite challenging! There are less puzzles per se, and the game relies more on your powers of deduction as to who is lying, what is possible in the time and who has a believable alibi.

That said, there are still quite a few fun things to solve. In particular, I enjoyed one of the first puzzles in the game which required cutting things out to reveal a hidden message. It was creative and creepy, just like the sort of message a real serial killer would leave!

Other puzzles players can expect to come across include ones involving maths, some colour-based visual puzzles, some very cool dingbats, a cipher and more! There’s a good mix, but this is definitely a game for people who enjoy the logic of solving crimes more than the nitty gritty of puzzle after puzzle.


So as mentioned, I guess correctly! Yay! To correctly ‘solve’ the murder, I’d advise really paying attention to everything. Not everything is important, but when the outro video explains it all there were quite a few “OHH!! WOW!!” moments where I’d missed some clue that made so much sense when spelled out.

Everyone has a good motive and all the suspects were acting very funny at the time of the death, but it’s important to remember the details of the crime itself too… This is me trying not to give a spoiler, but also trying to give some useful advice to budding detectives after me!

I guess the most important thing is to have fun though! The game will still let you proceed even if you guess incorrectly so don’t sweat it if you’re wrong.


In conclusion, great fun! I love murder mystery and this ticks that box in a refreshing, unique and creative way. I definitely don’t play as many murder mystery games as I’d like, but enjoying this as much as I did has given me some new found inspiration to go play more!

Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.


today I played Scarlet Envelope’s 4th game and here’s how I got on..head to my site to win a free copy! #escaperoom #scarletenvelope #competition

♬ Theme from “Sherlock Holmes” – Movie Sounds Unlimited

Virtual Escaping: Underground Murder | Review


On his way to work, a young man is killed on the subway. How he was murdered is still unknown. Suspects and witnesses have been questioned, but now it’s up to you to find out exactly what happened.

Rating: Spooky!
Completion Time: 34 minutes
Date Played: 28th March 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: 16+ Murder Mystery Enthusiasts and Budding Detectives

Week two in my Escape Game Olympics journey and this time we are…Down a couple of places, aww. But hey! There were 13 additional teams playing this week and I’m still super proud of our fantastic score of 34 minutes and 8 seconds! As with before, I’m playing on the Escaping the Closet team with Alice, Ash and Tash and absolutely loving the competition.

Underground Murder

If there’s two things I love it’s murder mysteries and underground trains. Ok I’m kidding on the last part. Does anyone actually love cramming onto a sticky underground train for a daily commute? Bleh. It’s a perk of working from home that I never need to again. BUT THIS underground train station is deserted. Why? There’s been a horrific murder and you, a team of detectives, must solve the case quickly and get the trains running again.

Screenshot (c) Virtual Escaping

Underground Murder has really spooky vibes. The whole environment was dark and mysterious – think flickering lights and plenty of dark places with discarded weapons *shudders*. To navigate the game, it’s a straight forward point and click, but the environment really makes you work for it… Read as, a lot of button mashing from me in all the shadowy places trying to find stuff.

Whilst is IS a point and click, unlike others, you can’t see what your fellow players are doing unless they discover something new – this pops up on screen for all players. So communication is absolutely the key:

I am in the engine room, I have found this, we need a 4 digit code…” etc. etc.

Screenshot (c) Virtual Escaping

The Puzzles

The game is really cleverly done in terms of solving the ‘big puzzle’ of whodunnit. Sure, it feels like an escape room with puzzles to solve, but the end goal is to collect as much evidence as possible and interrogate the suspect statements to figure out who the murder is and more importantly why the victim died.

As you search for evidence, the main purpose of the puzzles are to unlock the three new areas. For example, an engineer’s room locked with a 4 digit code, or a series of panels that control the train doors. Rather unhelpful of the station staff not to give me this kind of information, but hey ho! As such, most of the puzzles require you to find a 3, 4, or 5 digit/letter code – so we spent a great deal of time trying the same code in various locks until we cracked it.

Screenshot (c) Virtual Escaping

A few stand out puzzles didn’t involve 4 digit codes (well, not exactly). At one point you’ll find yourself needing to unlock a phone with a shape, and other puzzles may involve small details in statements you overlooked the first time you read them. Pretty cool!

With three distinct areas to explore you won’t have enough information to solve the case until you unlock everything BUT you can try. At any point in the game you can head to your detective notebook, review the evidence, and solve the case. Pretty cool!

We ‘solved the case’ so the moment we were sure we were right (hey! This IS a competition – no time to waste!) BUT… This left us with one puzzle we did not solve and I’ve still no idea what it was supposed to do! Grrr, my inner completionist NEEDS TO KNOW what the puzzle solution was. Haha!


One of the standouts for me about Underground Murder is the really intriguing (and kinda beautiful) world. I just loved ‘being’ there and exploring the places. It was almost like a video game environment – damn, that’s a great idea! I would 100% play this if it were a video game, and right now I’m cheering the creators on to create a Part 2!

But, in the mean time, Underground Murder is a great option for a team of budding detectives looking to spend a fun afternoon solving a case. Even though we raced through it, there’s at least an hour – if not more’s worth of fun. You can see for yourself the various completion times of the players from this week’s EGO here.

Underground Murder can be purchased for £30 per team on Virtual Escaping’s website here.

Scarlet Envelope: Cabaret in Lapin Blanc



I’m currently hosting a competition where you can win your own copy of Newspaper Introduction to Mysteries! Simply click on the envelope to your right hand side.

Paris, 1899, Gala Night at the Cabaret Club. Colett, a gorgeous diva and the star of Lapin Blanc, disappears with no trace. Her dressing room is full of confusing leads: among jewelry and love notes from her fans you find a threatening letter and mysterious things from the past. Who is she? And is she in danger?

Rating: Mysterious
Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 16th March 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Fans of mystery, intrigue, secret societies and rich storylines

This is the second play at home game from Canadian company Scarlet Envelope, and the first proper look into the wonderful world they have created. I say this because their first, Newspaper: An Introduction to Mysteries was… Well… As the title suggests, just an introduction. Lapin Blanc is where the magic starts and boy do they kick off with an exciting and intriguing mystery!

Cabaret in Lapin Blanc plays like a classic murder mystery. Not only are you solving individual puzzles but you’re also trying to “put the whole case together”. Who IS this mysterious cabaret girl? What has the devastating fire got to do with it? A trail of threatening letters? I love murder mystery.

Of course, I’m not sure what an 1890s murder mystery has to do with the story of the Scarlet Envelopes as a whole – but I reckon that’s one of the pulls that keeps players coming back. There’ll be no unsolved mysteries on my watch!

The Game

The game follows a similar pattern as the first envelope. You receive a mysterious letter and, on opening it you’re presented with a lot of stuff. In this case, there’s a missing girl and this stuff is everything that was found on her dresser table before she went missing. Including a jewellery box (that must be unlocked), letters, a tarot card, and a ripped up newspaper. Most intriguing!

From here, it’s a little tricky to know where to begin the game. I definitely used a lot more clues for this one than I did the previous – most likely a result of ordering the ‘Hard’ difficulty version of the game. Oops!

The Puzzles

There’s some really good puzzles in Cabaret in Lapin Blanc! In particular, this game makes good use of word and letter puzzles – by this I mean forming sentences out of scrambled syllables, plenty of ciphers, and manipulating objects to find secret words and letters hidden within. A few of the puzzles are immediately gated off. For example – one of the items in your envelope has a “Do not start until X” note written on it – the reason for which only becomes clear later in the game. Other puzzles too, are found online once you’ve cracked a code on the website.

This was actually my favourite part of the whole game! To unlock an object you head online and input the code. But this isn’t any ordinary code, it doesn’t have digits. Very cool!

One more note on the puzzles here is that this game is also so much more than a “solve the puzzles, get the code” game. In order to win the game you have to pay attention. The game asks a number of questions of you at the end and because of my “not completely paying attention” on one of them, I only got it 90% correct. Does this mean I failed? Ehhh, lets just brush over this part of the review.


Fiendish but fun! This is a really creative game from the Scarlet Envelope people and quite unlike anything else I’ve played. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s totally not insurmountable and the incredible quality of materials more than makes up for it. I was at times absolutely delighted by some of the ‘aha moments’ and other times close to just looking at the answer and giving up. But all worthwhile to finally put the Cabaret Lapin Blanc case to rest!

You can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.

Curio Casebooks: Anadarko | Review


The Anadarko box concerns a cold case from 1989 Oklahoma. The original detectives were stumped by a string of murders, and the case file has been sent to you to review. Retrace the original detective’s steps and delve into the original case files to find where the trail went cold and solve the murders for yourself.

Rating: Thrilling!
Completion Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Date Played: 19th December 2020
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Sleuths and True Crime Fans

Content Warning: Murder, Violence

Anadarko is the first case box by sleuth duo behind Curio Casebooks – Jo and Martin and it’s got EVERYTHING you want from a murder mystery experience. For the sheer amount of evidence and goodies you get in a box, to how exciting (and realistic) the actual case was – I’m hooked and I cannot wait for Case 2 to come out!

Okay so I’m a murder mystery super-fan. Since when and why? I’m not sure. Maybe from studying law at university, maybe from a 6 month detective internship with the London MET? I mention this because I’m convinced I can spot an exciting and realistic case file a mile off. Anadarko has it all. From the moment I opened the box it felt genuine! Who were these unusual people from the 1980s in this small town? I must know!

The story goes, over the course of a year back in the 1980s, three women mysteriously turned up dead in the small town of Anadarko. You join the cold case in the present day, having nothing but the old case files to chew over. But you’ll quickly find yourself, as I did, pulled into the world of Andarko, pouring over the transcripts, underlining things, cross-referencing with photographs and detective notes.

Unfortunately I do not have a pin board, but at about the 50% mark I realised I needed to spread out and get a better overview. Keeping track of three murders requires a step back (or two, or three). But where there’s a will (and some cellotape) there’s a way – even if it did cause my regular Player 2 to double back on himself in confusion when he entered the room, walls plastered in photos and transcripts.

All in all, solving the Anadarko case takes around 1 – 2 hours. The idea is quite simple, the “game” follows a non-linear pattern of being presented with all the evidence and part of the fun is sorting it out to figure out the who, what and when. Once that’s all figured out, you’ve got to review the suspects and work your way backwards. Why did the killer do what they did? Is there a hidden clue somewhere in a transcript? (Yes! Yes there’s plenty!)

There’s also a fun little puzzle cipher that fits into the game too – as a regular escape room enthusiast I might have liked to see more, but the one that was in there felt perfectly in place. A curious note mailed in to the newspaper editor in an unfamiliar, Zodiac-esque language? Sign me up.

Talking of fun things in the box – fans of Curio Casebooks can also look forward to a number of extra goodies. These were such an added surprises and really elevated the whole experience for me. For starters, an FBI hat and laminated ID card. A nice touch alongside a branded notebook, keyring, bookmark and – at least in my kit – a couple of festive snacks to keep me going too!

Overall, I’m very impressed with Curio Casebooks and can’t wait to see what they come up with for their next case!

Curio Casebooks: Anadarko can be purchased for £25 via the company’s Etsy page.

Mystery Mail: Catch Me if You Can | Review


A vicious killer is on the loose. You’ve been sent the evidence. Can you crack the case and reveal what happened?

Rating: Mysterious!
Completion Time:  40 minutes
Date Played: 7th October 2020
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Adults

Okay so I’m a self-proclaimed murder mystery SUPERFAN. I devour the stuff, whether it’s my obscure collection of vintage murder mystery books (yes! I’m kind of obsessed with the noire front covers), to writing my own murder mystery party games, to spending my Friday nights watching cold case documentaries… I just can’t get enough of the genre.

*hears police banging down my door for weird google searches*

So therefore I couldn’t wait to play this absolute gem of a game from Mystery Mail. Wizarding Schools, Christmas, Murder Mysteries… All Mystery Mail needs now is a sci-fi or 80s game and I can tick all my favourite genres off the list.

Catch Me if You Can is intriguingly named and even more enticing once you open the envelope. As with all other Mystery Mail games, you receive this as a mysterious letter through your door – the expectation is that you would buy this as a gift for somebody but no judgement if you go ahead and buy this for yourself! It’s worth it!

It starts with a video from the chief of police who sets the scene: A deadly killer on the loose always one step ahead of the force. It’s up to you now, but you’d best hurry before he strikes again.

What follows is a really cool (and realistic) series of puzzles that works together to build up a case. It’s your job to discover the who, what, when, where and how of the crime you’ve been given. In order to do so, you need to think big, and think outside of the box! I don’t want to give any spoilers but just to say the game will take you outside of the pack and into ‘the real world’ of audio-visual at every turn. I really enjoy games that guide you to secret online pages, find logins, listen to voicemails and send emails *cough*. Catch Me if You Can does not disappoint!

In terms of puzzles, the puzzles in this game are quite unique. When tracking down a killer, unless they’re particularly sadistic, they tend not to leave clues in the form of puzzles. Neither do witness statements, and nor are fingerprints puzzles in themselves. What Catch Me if You Can does is present the information in separate fragments. The puzzle is linking seemingly unrelated facts to paint a picture of what happened. It works! They manage to achieve this very creatively. There’s more than enough puzzles in there to scratch that itch (you’ll have to puzzle your way through messages left from other detectives), but equally the immersion doesn’t break! It feels totally natural – and it totally works!

Once you complete Catch Me if You Can you gain access to an online portal – within this a personalised message from the gift giver

I clocked this game in around 40 minutes. A lot harder than The School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but just as fun to play. It’s an absolute joy to receive something like this in the post and I encourage more people to send their loved ones games like this – escape room fans or otherwise!

Catch Me if You Can can be purchased from Mystery Mail’s website for £9.99.