Echoes of Stardust Review | Dance your way into the vibrant world of the “The Stardust Palace”, where groovy tunes and hidden mysteries await! Are you ready to immerse yourself in an adventure that will transport you back to the neon-lit heart of the 1980s disco era? Prepare to solve enigmatic puzzles, decipher cryptic clues, and unravel secrets from the golden age of disco!
Number of Players: 4
Time Taken: 40 minutes
Date Played: October 2023
Recently I travelled down to Sheffield to hang out with Al, Ash, and our friend Tasha (collectively, and separately of Escaping the Closet) which meant a weekend of escape rooms and tabletop puzzle games! Of course, it would also be that weekend I’d forgotten to bring the bag packed chock full of board games – so imagine my delight when I unzipped my small backpack to find I’d slipped one (just one) game in there. This one! Praise be to envelope sized light-weight puzzle games that are also printable just in case you forget your files at home.
I also packed The Blue Coconut’s other game, the spooky “Curse of Blackthorn Manor“. But on glancing through both of them, we collectively decided to leap into the light-hearted disco themed romp complete with dazzling font and bright and exciting colours.
The Blue Coconut themselves are prolific Etsy sellers sporting, at the time of writing, some 3,500 sales all around the world and a 5 star rating across the board. Some portion of their sales seem to come from a previous version of the business from 2015/2016 where the duo specialised in art prints. But then in 2021, The Blue Coconut was born (or reborn) as a tabletop puzzle game creator. Since then, they’ve been making anything from murder mystery games to more traditional puzzle games to popular response. In fact today, if you log into Etsy and search “escape room” you’ll probably see them pop up in one of the very first listings. Outside of Etsy, the team is slightly less known – which is a shame, because having played through two of their games now, I had fun!
But let’s get into it… What sort of fun can a player expect from Echoes of Stardust?
About Echoes of Stardust
Echoes of Stardust is a short puzzle and murder mystery hybrid game. You, the player arrives at The Stardust Palace after receiving a letter from “Vincent Groovemaster”, the venue’s owner. The star of the show, Celeste Nightingale was found murdered, and we had three missions to complete:
- Find the identity of Celeste’s killer
- Discover the location of Celeste’s cryptex
- Decipher the code to the cryptex to find out what she’d left within it
To solve those three missions, you’re faced with a range of puzzles. This is very much a “tip the contents of the envelope onto the table and explore” type of game, so there wasn’t too much in the way of signposting – we could tackle any puzzle in any order.
A few of them we got super easily. Of those, we picked up the killer’s name right away, for example. A few others required a little cutting and sticking – in one instance a jigsaws-style puzzle, and in another assembling a CD cassette case (so retro! I love it!). Since there were 4 of us, we split across the table into 2 groups of 2 and got solving, occasionally swapping clues when we got stuck on something in particular.
Guiding you along the way is a small business-card with images of which aspects of the game need to be used together to solve a puzzle. If we needed a hint, there was an online web portal we could go to to find out more. In the end, we used on hint on what I think is the very last puzzle in the game. It was a classic case of “we were overthinking this”, but a little extra signposting on this puzzle may have gone a long way.
The Physical Papers from The Stardust Palace
In terms of quality, Echoes of Stardust is available in two forms:
- Print at Home
- Shipped in an Envelope
We opted for the former, and ours arrived in a cute pink envelope inside a more stable cardboard envelope to protect it during transit. Since the game is essentially a printable game, everything in the envelope was a simple paper puzzle, with the occasional item on more durable stock including a metallic scratch-off solution reveal, and a shiny brochure stock.
Visually this game is beautiful… Well, at least until closer inspection when I realised that the majority of the eye-catching art is actually AI generated. Here at The Escape Roomer we are not huge fans of AI art. We get that there’s often a need to iterate on a design very quickly at the prototype level, but seeing AI art in a finished project is a big no no for us and we, at The Escape Roomer prefer to support human designers and human artists who have been fairly paid for their work.
With that elephant in the room out of the way, we can go back to the fun part. What is our verdict?
Echoes of Stardust: The Verdict
Well, Echoes of Stardust is very much a more entry-level escape room experience, and as a result isn’t targeting the enthusiast market. The team has chosen a formula (word answer, then digits for all other puzzles) and stuck to it across their games that I can see. Forcing puzzles into the box of “the output has to be a 3 digit code” or “a 4 digit code” doesn’t always make for the most interesting puzzles. I think the game could have done more with the theme, or been more – perhaps with a more cohesive storyline, or more unique puzzles. Personally, I would love to see the team do something that breaks their own formula. A bigger, more encompassing murder mystery which creative and mimetic puzzles that fit well into the universe they have created. Rather than a puzzle arbitrarily outputting a 3-digit code, perhaps you’re retracing the victim’s steps, or comparing fingerprints to suspects, or listening to music that contains backwards speaking in a creepy final message the victim left us – just the little things that make more ‘mimetic’ sense in the universe of ‘solving a murder’.
But all that said, for the low price and fun visual presentation, Echoes of Stardust hits the spot and ticks enough boxes for us to be called fun… And 3500 five star reviews on Etsy can’t be wrong. They’re clearly doing something right, that their target audience loves!
I would recommend this for the casual puzzle player looking for something fun on date night, or a game at home with friends. For an even better experience – you could probably use actual digit locks and a cryptex (if you have such things lying around your house – unfortunately I do, haha!) to lock away fun disco-themed prizes that are revealed once you solve the puzzles.
Echoes of Stardust can be purchased as a printable game, or shipped directly to you by heading to The Blue Coconut’s Etsy here.
Please Note: We were not charged for our experience, but this hasn’t affected our review.