“Mr. Boddy. Dead… Again!”
-Wadsworth, Clue (1985)
Location: your home
Date played: September 25, 2016
Team size: 2-16; we recommend it depends (see below)
Price: $28 for the printed version without the online portal or the set up challenges (there are other options on Kickstarter)
Story & setting
Themed on classic American board games, the story loosely explores the mysterious murders of most of the creators of Clue.
The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy was essentially a collection of puzzles positioned throughout our home. Our friend and regular teammate Lindsay served as our gamemaster. She played the entire game on a gamemaster’s website, and then printed all of the puzzles and prepared them. (Then she laid out the entire game on her bed in the shape of our apartment and played through it again to ensure proper game flow. [We have good friends]).
The story wasn’t woven into the puzzles, so much as it was experienced through letters.
The components of the game were adorably based on a wide variety of recognizable tabletop games.
The gamemaster can theme the game with as much detail as they desire. If they want to adapt the game and build in locks and more intense physical components, that is absolutely doable. We opted for the color prints of the puzzles (black and white would break some of the puzzles).
The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy was a puzzle-forward experience. There was a solid mix of logic, word, and pattern recognition puzzles.
The biggest challenge came from connecting puzzle components. The pieces were scattered around our apartment and it wasn’t always clear how everything was supposed to come together. Our teammates had no trouble distinguishing our personal belongings from the puzzle pieces, but everyone had trouble pairing the various puzzle components together.
There were a few great puzzles.
It was fun to have a bunch of our friends over, cook a meal (we made a meal themed on Clue), and have a puzzle party.
Lindsay, our gamemaster, put in a lot of work to perfect her layout and she felt she really owned it. She had a blast as gamemaster.
The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy was really cute.
We live just outside of Manhattan and apartments in these parts are small. There was no way that we ever could have made more than 8 players work. We also could not split into teams due to a lack of space. This isn’t a knock on the game, so much as it’s an oversight in the instructions.
There was a point in The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy where a portion of the team was split off. The mechanism was neat, but everyone involved felt like they were missing out on what the other group was doing. This was a strange dynamic for an at-home game and as a result of this mechanism half of our teammates missed the story.
Setup of the print version was a lot of work, which narrows the audience for the game. This was compounded by a few challenges such as:
- All of the puzzles were in individual PDFs, instead of being in one.
- There was no gamemaster guide/ hint sheet. (Lindsay created one which she has given to Black Toad Games.)
- One set of components should have been taped down, to prevent people from moving things that ought-not be moved.
- Lindsay added a game component that made the game solvable. (I truly cannot imagine how we would have come up with the correct answer without her addition or a massive hint.)
- One clue was placed in a location that would have made the game impossible to solve if Lindsay hadn’t changed its placement.
- Lindsay had a hard time playing through the game on the computer; she ultimately had to print the components to handle her run-through
Should I play Black Toad Games’ The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy?
There were two key differences between The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy and other play-at-home escape room games.
The first was that Mr. Boddy required at least one person to have the motivation and temperament to set everything up and participate passively while everyone puzzled as a group.
The second was space. The other play-at-home escape room games that we’ve reviewed were straightforward, bring your friends over, open the box, play around a table until everything is solved. The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy was a more involved experience.
Lindsay was great about stepping up and making this game happen for us. The interesting thing was that of all of the participants, she had the best time. We didn’t expect that at all.
Everyone else involved had a good time as well. As with all play-at-home escape rooms The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy wasn’t as incredible as a great real life room escape, but it also doesn’t have to be.
For $28 Black Toad games will send their Kickstarter backers a printed version of the game. That is the price of admission for one person to your average room escape. Skip the online version and the printable PDF; have Black Toad do the legwork. It will cut down on hassle and streamline your experience.
If you love puzzles and having your friends over for game nights, this is a good investment of $28.
Back Black Toad Games’ The Game Room Part 1: Mr. Boddy on Kickstarter and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Black Toad Games’ provided a free reviewer copy of their game.