Escape Hunt: Day of the Dead | Review

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Escape Hunt Day of the Dead Review | Tonight, it is the Day of the Dead and amongst the festivities, music and colour, lies a legendary challenge: the chance to be reborn. Have you got what it takes to lead a skeleton crew of expert thieves into the most heavily guarded building in the whole underworld? For one night only, the walls between the real world and the afterlife have come down and the greatest prize of them all sits inside a secure vault somewhere inside the palace, waiting to be taken by someone bold enough to try.

Date Played: October 2021
Time Taken: 1 Hour 2 Mins
Number of Players: 1
Difficulty: Easy

Bright, colourful, yet slightly spooky

Its no surprise that I am a big fan of the print at home games produced by Escape Hunt over the last year or so. Everything is of the highest quality, with some outstanding graphic design and solidly thought out themes and puzzles. And this game is certainly no exception.

The theme grabbed me instantly. I have real love for all things based on Dias De Las Muertos and I am surprised that its a theme that isn’t more widely used in the escape room community. The combination of traditional family values, beautifully colourful painted faces and the more ominous death factors give some real endless opportunities for puzzle designers – and the guys at Escape Hunt have certainly gone to town with this theme, and grasped the challenge with both skeleton painted hands!

Sensory overload?! You bet! But my eyes were buzzing with the amazing colours involved in this game. Obviously, your printer might not enjoy it, but your eyes certainly well. But don’t worry, the guys at Escape Hunt have you covered – the opening page of the PDF file clearly shows what you need to print to make the game a little more pocket-friendly on your printer!

Strike up the band, Amigos

Getting a sense of immersion from a print at home game will always prove difficult. One way that is always a winner for me, is the use of sound and music. With Day of the Dead, the website gives you the opportunity to strike up the Mariachi band and indulge in the sounds of Mexico. And whilst the soundtrack does get somewhat repetitive, it really adds a nice touch and a little bit of atmosphere often lacking at print at home games.

My favourite subject – puzzles! Now whilst I’d suggest that the majority of the puzzles are relatively simple, don’t go thinking you’ll just sail on through without too much to test you. There are some common puzzle themes which you may have likely seen before, but what Escape Hunt do really well, is give these a subtle twist. There are around 10 puzzles within this game and all are accessible to any level of player – the kids will love how they look graphically, and can certainly get involved without question. The more experienced players would likely love this as a solo or duo game.

The game is broken down into three distinct sections – as ever, no spoilers, however Escape Hunt have cleverly placed page blockers into the game to make sure that you don’t accidentally turn the page to the next puzzle and ruin your journey to secure what’s hidden within the vault. And whilst the game is linear in nature, there would be no harm in separating away from each other during each of three sections to play games as individuals and then pulling together when required.

The game also ties itself together well, by using a set of bones which are found early on in the process. These have some odd encryptions on them which need to be referred to on a number of occasions throughout the game. This is a really solid way of not making the gameplay feel too sporadic.

As with all the Escape Hunt games, there is a very trusty online guide available. As you progress through the series of puzzles, should you find yourself up the Mexican creek without a paddle, here you can find a selection of hints. The first hint for each puzzle tends to be rather cryptic but gives just enough of a nudge to push you forward. If this still isn’t enough there’s a secondary hint for each game which is much more obvious. And whilst I wouldn’t expect many players would need them, you can also find the answers for each puzzle too. It should be noted that this online guide is just as beautifully colourful as the printed documents and is a real treat for the eyes.

Cutting skills at the ready!

Don’t forget your scissors for this game though amigos! Two major puzzles (and I’d probably also suggest my favourite of the entire game), need you to put your cutting skills to the test. I often worry that you lose your flow when having to stop to cut things up when playing printed games, which can often a frustration. And whilst one of the two games did require me to put my expert arts and crafts skills to the test, it actually gave a much greater sense of achievement when I completed it. Instead of just reading through material, having these more interactive factors, were a perfect addition.

The finale of this game is very clever. The answers to your final puzzles just appear to be a bit of a muddle; I was certainly questioning whether I had messed up, but I shouldn’t have feared! Make use of the printed decoder tool and you’ll soon find how to complete your mission! Head online to enter your secret password and find if you can what secrets there are to unveil.

The Verdict

When all was said and done, this is certainly a very solid outing from Escape Hunt. The combination of some well designed puzzles (both with and without the requirement of my trusty scissors!), possibly the most beautifully created graphics for a print at home game I’ve played, and a really cracking theme, make this one of the games I am unlikely to forget in a hurry.

Sounds like fun right? If you think so head on over to the Escape Hunt website at this link.

Ratings

Escape Hunt: An Enola Holmes Adventure | Review

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An Enola Holmes Adventure Review | The game is afoot! Players have the opportunity to join Enola Holmes’ new detective agency – if they can prove their skill as detectives of course. Individuals displaying intelligence, bravery, and a degree of cunning are highly desired for the post. Armed with only a map of London, a newspaper, and your wits, chase Enola investigating iconic locations including Covent Garden, Bond Street and 221b Baker Street.

Date Played: September 2020
Number of Players: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Time Taken: 30 minutes

A print at home game, with the added bonus of being accompanied by a brand new film, just released on Netflix. What’s not to love?! A escape room game and a movie – that’s my weekend sorted! 

So to give you a full insight into the story, your best bet is probably to watch the film first (its a great watch and will certainly get the pulses of escape room enthusiast racing!). The film certainly sets the scene and you will certainly understand why Netflix and Escape Hunt have collaborated on this project.  The game would still work really well standalone, but combined it hits all the right notes. When it comes to the print at home game story, this follows a similar vein, however you will need to track down Enola Holmes (the sister of Sherlock), who has left a trail of breadcrumbs throughout London. Track her down, and become part of her allusive detective gang. 

Didn’t Cost a Penny… Except for the Ink!

A real positive to this game is that it is absolutely FREE! Yep, didn’t cost a penny, except the cost of ink. Although it is a rather colourful, and should I say beautifully designed piece of work, there isn’t particularly a need to print if all off in colour.  So don’t worry about your pocket when downloading this!

Now, onto the puzzles. When watching the film in the first instance, it was very clear to see the way in which the puzzles would likely to pitched, and it certainly didn’t disappoint – a brilliant collection of cipher styles and word games, plus some great fun origami type challenges.

As print at home games go, I often find them overcomplicated or over-engineered, however this is not the case here. The team have found a great balance between being able to cater for the enthusiasts and first time gamers. There are no huge surprises in puzzle content, however this is actually a positive – its more of a “what you see is what you get” approach, where the simplicity of the puzzles is a real bonus – that’s not to say that you will find this a breeze that for sure.

(One particular origami challenge was passed to the wife to complete, as it beat me!)

In terms of clue systems, the download document includes a page of clues in which you have to use a mirror to read. A nice touch, which added to the detective style theme – we didn’t use them often however they do provide just the right amount of hint without ruining the game. Likewise, if you are completely stuck, there is a web address where you can check the answers. These explained the puzzles very well and also included video answers to demonstrate the trickier paper folding challenges! 

The games revolve around some key London areas, and solving the puzzles in the correct order moves you to your next location and its associated puzzles. The game builds into a crescendo, whereby everything you have already solved works into the final puzzle, therefore getting the correct locations in the correct order is certainly key! 

The Verdict

When all is said and done, this is certainly up there with my favourite print at home games. As ever, getting a real wow factor proves difficult, however the combination of the escape puzzles and an accompanying Netflix movie certainly goes a long way to fill that void. A great collection of beautifully designed puzzles, suitable for all, which hit a home run in my household. Get out your magnifying glass and check this one our for sure!   

An Enola Holmes Adventure was available as part of a promotion for the Netflix film in 2020.

Ratings

The Other Tales Printable Escapes: Gatekeeper | Review

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Your Uncle Keith always stood out from the rest of the family. He lived alone in a grand old mansion, and everybody thought him to be a bit of an eccentric. It was a great surprise to you when you received a postcard from Uncle Keith. You haven’t heard from him in many years. You arrive at his home, but find the house empty. What mysteries await you within?

Rating: Lighthearted!
Completion Time: ~45 minutes
Date Played: 15th May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: A fun game to play at home – if you have a printer handy!

I kept planning to play The Gatekeeper and waited for the perfect sunny day to take photos… And waited… And waited. Yep, the perfect sunny day never arrived (*shakes fist at London rain*), so instead I tackled the print & play game with my Player 2 on a Saturday morning over a pot of tea.

What followed was a particularly charming game about breaking into your uncle’s house- but I get ahead of myself! Here’s the review:

The Story

The story starts with your eccentric uncle Keith who lives alone in a mysterious old mansion- alone. One day, he invites you to come visit but immediately you know something is not right when you arrive and Keith is nowhere to be found. Perhaps this is just one of Keith’s peculiar games, or perhaps he is testing you? In any case, you decide to see if you can find your way into the mansion.

What follows is a journey from room to room as you explore the mansion and uncover secrets along the way. Behind each new door is a delightful new environment filled with surprises. The magic you’ll find at the heart will surely change your life forever, if you can unlock it!

The Experience

The Gatekeeper is an entirely printable game, meaning there’s no online interface to grapple with. Even the clues can be printed in advance, making this a pretty good game to pack with you on a holiday if you know you’ll be without internet for a while.

The game is played in ‘chapters’ where each chapter has a number of puzzles which must be solved before you can proceed onto the next one. Each of these puzzles is marked with a unique symbol that relates to the puzzle at hand. For example, a star, or a key, or a potion bottle. These act as locks, and your answers are the key.

The Puzzles

There are 11 puzzles in the entire Gatekeeper game – 11 symbols to find, dotted around the pages and we both really enjoyed the puzzles. There’s a good mix of nice and simple and really hard but the different difficulties are dotted around the whole pack giving someone something to do at all times and no big blockers to continuing the game.

As the game is magic themed, players can expect to come across puzzles that make use of dusty old tomes, of strange language ciphers, mixing potions, harmonising crystals with magic properties, and crafting keys. In particular, I really enjoyed the first half of the game’s puzzles the most. There’s a puzzle early on involving books which took us a while but it was worth all the more when we finally cracked the code.

I also enjoyed a puzzle involving the Herbarium – or maybe that was mostly because I loved looking at the beautifully drawn pictures of flowers!

In terms of difficulty, I’d overall rate the puzzles as “Medium”. We definitely struggled more than we expected to – probably the pot of tea wasn’t strong enough! But there was plenty to do in this game and persevering on the harder puzzles made it worth it. In short, a great mix of different things to do in this game and the creators have made good use of the printed medium!

The Clues

If at any time you need to check your answers, there’s a separate PDF. I think Gatekeeper actually does their clues and answers system really well for a printed game – it’s kinda like a mini puzzle in of itself! The reason being, the clue system is designed so that you can’t accidentally spoil the game for yourself.

For each answer there is a 5×5 grid of letters. If you cross out all the letters contained in the answer you think is correct, the Xs will make a shape and you can check if this shape is correct. Pretty ingenious actually! And, if for any reason you want to skip this, the actual answers can also be found later in the PDF but written backwards so a skim read won’t be a huge spoiler either.

The Art

The artwork in this game deserves it’s own header as it is frankly fantastic! The whole pack has a whimsical, magical allure to it and this is made all the more special by the hand drawn illustrations on each page. It’s almost water-colour style and really brings the house to life.

Overall

Because of the light hearted nature of the game with it’s bright colours, warm vibes, and magical plotline, I’d recommend this game for families and kids in particular – and I think it would be a big hit in this group! I really enjoyed it, but after a whole lockdown of printing out play at home games I think my printer might be on it’s very last legs these days. Worth it though to see the bright colours of The Gatekeeper in all their glory.

The Gatekeeper can be downloaded for $29 USD on The Other Tales’ website here.

ClueQuest: Operation E.G.G.

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As any hard-boiled detective knows, it’s important to keep your sleuthing skills at the top of their game. Luckily, the egg-heads over at clueQuest HQ have developed this training course for all our agents. So scramble together a team and get ready to foil the villainous Professor Blacksheep as he attempts to poach our latest technological marvel – the Elastic Gateway Generator.

Rating: Eggs-cellent!
Completion Time: 26:59
Date Played: 2nd April 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Family Easter Fun!

So… Many… Egg… Puns… And that’s no eggs-aggeration!
*crickets*
I’ll show myself out.

No, but seriously I was really impressed with Operation E.G.G.! It’s got everything you want in a light hearted Easter escape room game and, as usual, ClueQuest have hit the mark with their target audience. Whilst I played this one as a solo escapist (my partner sat next room, backseat escaping with his hilarious Mr Q impression), this would be such a perfect game for a family setting, a couple, flatmates, new escapers and ‘veterans’ alike! What I mean is, the puzzles felt somehow really accessible and solvable. So let’s get into it:

The Story

We’re once again joined by MM7, the plucky robot you may recognise from Mechanics of the Heart and it’s time for your first day of Secret Agent Training. Mr. Q has simulated various secret agent scenarios to see if you’re up to the job. You, the mastermind in Mission Control and MM7, the boots on the ground (actually err, he kinda floats above the ground but yeah, you get the idea). Was I up for the task of taking on the nefarious Professor Blacksheep? Sure, I’ll give it my best shot. It’s not my first rodeo with Blacksheep.

The Experience

As with every Print + Cut + Escape game there’s a fair bit of printing out. No printer? No problem – ClueQuest also offer a home delivery service which is pretty cool. After a long lockdown of playing ‘at home’ escape rooms my printer is on it’s last legs but it managed the 20 pages required by Operation E.G.G… Phew!

I think it’s technically possible to get away with printing less than 20 pages. In this game there was a lot less cutting out as usual – possibly only 4 or 5 pages in total? Although other pages had folding puzzles, some you needed to assemble things, and in others it’s very helpful to write on the paper – so you should aim to print as much as possible.

For the full experience, I just went for it and printed everything though and that worked for me! From here, you pre-cut everything out, lay it all out into it’s various chapters, and hit ‘play’ on an online web portal ClueQuest have set up. You get your intro video, you jump into the game and at each stage, enter a password to proceed to the next ‘level’. Some levels require only the printed material, others a combination of video + print, or click and drag digital interface.

The Puzzles

USUALLY with a ClueQuest game I struggle with the puzzles but nope not this one, which is why I highlight it as being especially accessible for a family audience. I smashed through the whole game in just under half an hour – fuelled by elderflower cordial, the sun, and chocolate Easter eggs… HEY! I see you looking at the date and judging me for eating my Easter eggs early!

Players can expect to encounter a big range of puzzles including (but of course, not limited to), a folding puzzle, a puzzle akin to a jigsaw, puzzles with moving cogs and dials, puzzles where you have to watch a sequence and repeat it back on your paper, puzzles where you have to search and find symbols, puzzles where you have to match up very abstract shapes… The list goes on!

In particular, my favourite involved a lock and the wildest looking set of lockpicks I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously, I laughed! No spoilers here – but just light warning to look out for that one, it’s fun!

Overall

So how did I do? Well I’ve eaten a whole Easter egg and a box of Quality Streets oh- you meant the game? Yep, you bet I saved the world! I think that deserves some more chocolate? No? Okay.

In any case, if you’re reading this and wondering what to do this Easter honestly this is a pretty fun game. We’re not quite out of lockdown here in the UK and annoyingly there’s snow warnings for this weekend so heck, looks like another Easter indoors. But with a fun game like this to look forward to, it’s a real silver lining and I can’t recommend it enough.

I also recommend it if you enjoy any of the following: puns about eggs, anthropomorphic mice, secret agent stuff, saving the world, wacky puzzles, or great illustrations.

Operation E.G.G. can be purchased for £15 on ClueQuest’s website here.

Escape Quest Queenstown: Missing Gold Escort

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It’s the 1860’s gold rush in the wild frontier of central Otago, New Zealand. Prospectors have flooded into Queenstown and its surrounds from around the world in search of gold. The gold rush has also attracted bandits who roam the pioneer tracks in gangs looking for unsuspecting travellers carrying gold. The biggest prize of all for a bandit would be a gold escort which takes a carriage full of gold from the gold fields to the town banks.

Rating: Adventurous!
Completion Time: 1 hr 20 minutes
Date Played: 13th March 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: People interested in New Zealand history, and who want an adventure whilst in lockdown!

So a long time ago in another lifetime I used to live in New Zealand and I look back on the place with incredibly fond memories! Sure, I lived in Auckland, not Queenstown – but the moment I read the game’s description I was immediately transported to the local history lessons of my school days learning about the gold rush and was reminded of holidays with my family spent gold panning*

*I actually found some gold one time, it’s a tiny speck but damn I’m proud!!

So for me, Missing Gold Escort was a joy to play… And we all know how much I love a good print and play game! History aside, the print + assemble aspect of this game was outstanding.

I’ve tried not to spoil it too much with my photographs but at each stage in this game you’ve got something to cut out and in most cases, something to assemble too. From 3D rooms you have to rotate and examine closely to ‘enter’, to assembling items from within locations only to repair them, from cutting out intricate dials to adjust the speed of water flowing, to extensive 3D map puzzles with obstacles to assemble then overcome. Wow! So much detail!

The Story

The year is 1860 and a gold escort has gone missing whilst travelling to a secret location. With bandits running rife, the worst is feared and it’s up to you to solve the clues and retrace the escort’s steps. First, you locate the route chosen, then you find the driver, then you find the gold, then you deposit it at the bank.

As you can tell from my description, the game doesn’t follow a typical escape room format, it’s much more of an adventure-come-treasure-hunt game, and I love that. The game heavily uses map puzzles, but does so in a creative way where each part feels fresh. At some points in the game, I had to reuse maps I’d already looked it (cue lots of rummaging around in my ‘discarded’ pile), but it all made sense within the larger narrative.

In terms of difficulty, I’d say this was ‘intermediate’, and I’d definitely recommend tackling it in a group (and not as a solo team of 1 like I did!). It’s also just so much more fun to bounce ideas off people (and have an extra pair of hands to help cut things out!)

A little bit more signposting may have helped me in parts, but I know that everyone likes a different level of ‘this is what you have to do’. There was also one section where I breezed past a puzzle using the clues and not fully figuring it out myself, only to realise the next puzzle in the game build directly upon the previous solution. Oops @ me for not paying attention!

But overall, it was good fun! I’d planned to play it on Friday evening but instead did it over lunch in a sunny spot in the corner of my apartment. With the sun on my skin and a light breeze through the window, despite being a million miles away in London, UK, I felt *there*. Escape Quest have absolutely nailed it and I really hope they make more printable escape room games soon!

Missing Gold Escort can be purchased for $30 NZD (~£15) per team by heading to Escape Quest Queenstown’s website here.

ClueQuest: Mechanics of the Heart

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Mr. and Mrs. Q’s helpful and reliable reconnaissance droid, MM7, is starting to ask questions all robots inevitably ask, “What is Love?” and “How do you know you’re loved?” You’ll be tasked to help MM7 decipher the complex and puzzling ways of love in our world in order to help focus him on our daily mission to save the world from the villainous network of the Evil Professor.

Rating: Romantic!
Completion Time: 33 minutes + 25 minutes
Date Played: 21st – 22nd February 2021
Party Size: 2 (1)
Recommended For: A Valentine’s activity

I did Mechanics of the Heart in two sittings – complicated? Yeah! Maybe. But hey, it makes for an interesting perspective and hopefully an interesting review. So here goes…

Valentine’s Day unfortunately got away from us this year inbetween playing the Civilisation board game (sorry babe for giving you the plague and sacking your city if you’re reading this!), baking brownies, and watching films. So we tackled Mechanics of the Heart 7 days after the big red day – as if I need an excuse to have a second Valentine’s Day!

But, puzzles aren’t really my Player 2’s thing, so we tapped out at 33 minutes after getting a bit stuck (and a little bit prosecco-and-cheese-lazy too). But not before secretly making a note of answers so I could come back to this in my own time at a later date. Which I did the following day!

So how did I find this Valentine’s themed game for two as a solo adventure? It still worked! That said, the main selling point of Mechanics of the Heart that are that it IS really a game for two to share together perhaps sipping red wine beneath a gorgeous sunset. For example, there’s personalisation. You can input your partner’s nicknames, ideas for cute dates, and funny stories from your relationship. I put a couple of jokes in mine and only misspelled my partner’s pet name once (with hilarious consequences).

Another way in which it’s best played with two players are the style of puzzles. Many of the puzzles actually benefit from having two pairs of eyes, for example comparing lots of information quite quickly. There’s a cool bit of “divide and conquer” which worked well in a play at home setting. I’d look at one half of a puzzle, or one half of a folded paper divider and try to describe what I saw and my partner would do the same and opposite.

What this tells me is that ClueQuest (as usual!) put SO MUCH thought and effort into making this game perfect for ‘the season’ and with a lovely plot and beautiful illustrations to boot, it makes Mechanics of the Heart an exceptional game in the printable escape room genre!

So what is that plot you speak of?” I hear you ask. The story goes, MM7, one of the ClueQuest droids has their heart (no pun intended) set on becoming a secret agent! But Mr. Q has his doubts, arguing that secret agents must be able to understand EE-MO-SHUN. So this is your quest, to help MM7 understand the most powerful emotion of them all: Love.

It was a surprise not to meet Mr. Q in this game (I suspect he’s still in peril after Prison of Memories), but I’ll never say no to learning more about the ClueQuest world lore, and this game’s got buckets of it.

I’d recommend this game for a date night, for any level of puzzler. This game is all about affection, compatibility and like NY Times’ 36 Questions to Lead to Love, it might just make you fall in love.

Mechanics of the Heart can be purchased for £15 via the ClueQuest website.

ClueQuest: Prison of Memories Part 1

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After a sneaky attack from an unknown assailant, Mr Q is trapped in a coma. With time running short it’s up to Mrs Q and Lord Hammerschmidt to dive into Mr Q’s mind and find a way to wake him up. But they can’t do it without your help!

Rating: Tricky!
Completion Time: 59 minutes
Date Played: 30th December 2020
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Fans of ClueQuest, Puzzle Enthusiasts

ClueQuest are back at it again with their brand of cat-and-mouse *cough* I mean, sheep-and-mouse world domination madness. After their first Print + Cut + Escape series of games ended with an exciting bang, October brought the spooky Halloween Survival Training game (and was one of my favourite play at home games of 2020!). I’d been wondering (and stalking their social media, of course) if after all the success, they’d be turning their hands to a new series. Which is where Prison of Memories comes in!

For me, Prison of Memories Part 1 is a step up in difficulty from their other games. Perhaps I’ve been pacified by the recent games aimed at a child audience, but for some reason I found this one HARD. Really, really hard! True, I did play it as a solo player, on a post-Christmas cheese fuelled afternoon in that period between Christmas and New Years where time has no meaning. This might explained why Prison of Memories was the ClueQuest game I took the longest on, asked for the most clues, and *gasp* skipped a couple of puzzles (I’m sorry!).

The game goes as a lot of their other Print + Cut + Escape does: You receive a download pack and an online login. To begin the game, you should print everything out, separate them into the parts, and hit ‘start’ on the website when you’re ready. From here, the production value only gets better each time! I’m a huge fan of the witty and charming animated intro videos and the deep dive into the ClueQuest lore is always so exciting and fun.

In Prison of Memories, an attack by the nefarious Professor Blacksheep leaves our hero Mr. Q trapped in his own mind and unable to break free. So this time, in a change of environment, you play with Mrs. Q and deep dive into the incredible, wonderful mind of Mr. Q in order to rescue him. Think of it along the lines of a 90s episode of “The Magic School Bus”, but with more mice.

After the initial, “ooh this is a cool idea” you jump into gameplay. Overall, the game is quite intuitive rather than signposted. I think it unlikely a brand new player would play this first (and if you ARE a brand new player wondering if this is a good place to start, I’d recommend going back to Stolen IQ first). For this reason, I believe Prison of Memories relies on a certain amount of comfort with ClueQuest games and understanding what the game expects you to do. But of course if you do get stuck, you have hints, answers and a password box to type your answers and proceed at the end of each level.

Despite the hints and answers there are a couple of puzzles I couldn’t quite get my head around. I blame the Christmas cheese and wine. Well, this game IS about mice, isn’t it? But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun! It’s good to be challenged by some really ‘out of the box’ puzzles, and ClueQuest dishes those types of puzzles up like a breakfast buffet.

I don’t want to give any spoilers because the puzzles are really unlike anything else I’ve played in other games, but you’ll have to rely on pretty much all areas of the brain to crack this one. In each level there’s at least one very cool ‘thing’ to assemble out of paper and in more than one case something you thought was just “pretty art” turns out to be integral to the puzzle. Oh! Let’s not forget the maths know-how. How’s your adding up? I’m kidding, this game is packed with ‘fun’ maths, like pattern recognition or spatial awareness of shapes.

For me, I don’t think I can really mark this one as “finished” as I did skip a couple of puzzles, oops. But I’ve got nothing but absolute admiration for ClueQuest and their experiences, so I still wanted to write about the Prison of Memories because I had a good time playing it. This review can serve as advice, OR if nothing else, it gives you (yes you, the reader!) bragging rights over me when you manage to absolutely smash this game without a single clue.

In summary, it’s a challenge! A fun one, inspired, awesome art, packed with “woah I’ve never seen this puzzle before” moments. I’m excited for Part 2 which I’ll take on with a clear head, not under the influence of a week’s worth of camembert and wine *burp*.

ClueQuest: Halloween Survival Escape Training

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Around this time of the year we get numerous reports of Halloween horrors terrorizing neighborhoods across the world. That’s why we have developed this emergency training course for all field agents – including you!

Rating: Spooktacular
Completion Time: 1 hr 7 minutes
Date Played: 21st October 2020
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Ghoulfriends, Little Monsters, Best Witches (aka everyone!)

ONLY ONE WEEK TO GO UNTIL HALLOWEEN, GHOULS!

I almost never get to play Halloween themed escape rooms! Unless it’s horror themed, most companies don’t have permanent rooms kitted out with vampires, mummies and jack-o-lanterns. 2020 has presented a unique challenge for this new medium and Cluequest have risen to the occasion! Enter “Halloween Survival Escape Training” a brand new Print, Cut & Escape game for the whole family.

It’s got EVERYTHING – a nervous scientist running the program, vampires, zombies and experiments gone wrong. I learned more about the universe of Mr. Q and his friends than I’d ever wanted to know, and Player 2 even exclaimed “WHAT? [Redacted Character] was a vampire this whole time and we’ve been helping them?!”. It’s hilarious! Frighteningly good fun!

As with the rest of Cluequest’s Print, Cut Escape series you have the option of the team shipping a full colour version of the pack, or printing your own black and white one at home. We went for the latter – I actually really love that it’s print friendly. Colours or no colours, the illustrations are gorgeous as usual and really pop out from the page.

In Halloween Survival Training there are 4 parts. Each part represents a different Halloween character – you have Zombies, Vampires and a creepy lab experiment gone wrong! At the end you must complete an exam to find out if you’re ready to survive Halloween.

To help along the way, there’s an online portal that sets the scene. Here you input passwords and navigate through each chapter of the game aided by the Cluequest Crew.

In terms of puzzles, we found this one to be on the harder end of ClueQuest games! (There’s actually one puzzle we had to get the solution for – and I’m still not completely sure how to figure it out!) But that didn’t deter us from powering through our Survival Training and completing the exam at the end! Sometimes when the puzzles are harder it just means you feel an extra sense of accomplishment when you finally figure them out – I love this.

One of the puzzles we absolutely adored involved learning the Zombie language. Armed with the words I now know, I’m confident I can communicate in any global zombie outbreak. Bring it on, Day of the Dead! This puzzle was just so charming and funny to work through.

Other puzzles involved searching and finding, rearranging and putting things in order, cutting (oh yes, there’s a bit of cutting involved) and assembling Tetris-like shapes, as well as a fun cipher wheel! There’s a good mix and all with that familiar ClueQuest flavour to them.

We clocked our finish time in just over an hour! I think that’s a pretty respectable ‘escape time’, but you could easily get over 2 hours fun from this game. It’s absolutely perfect for Halloween and great for the whole family, so if you haven’t got plans already – you do now!

Halloween Survival Escape Training can be purchased for £15 on ClueQuest’s website here.