ThinkFun – Escape The Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat [Review]

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The wellness retreat where things weren’t well.

Location: Buy it and play it wherever you want

Date played: August 21, 2016

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 2-4

Price: $21.99 per box (replayable)

Story & setup

This escape room in a box was the second one to market from table top and education game company ThinkFun. It worked identically to its predecessor, Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor, which we reviewed very positively. Literally everything I said about the first game applied here, so I won’t rehash how the game was constructed or functioned.

The twist with Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat was that it was a bit darker and contained a few more complex puzzles.

“The year is 1913 and you are the lucky winner of a free stay at Foxcrest Retreat, where the famed Dr. Gravely has improved upon the latest in spa treatments and relaxation for those of high social standing. You take a long all-expense-paid train ride to the retreat. Upon your arrival, however, you and your fellow guests may find the “health retreat” is not what it seems…”

As with its predecessor, the story was well-written but far too wordy.

The box for the Secret of Dr. Gravely's Retreat shows a man who looks like an evil version of Freud, and monstorous hands grasping at a psychiatrists chair.


ThinkFun served up another round of paper and cardboard puzzles that were far more fun than paper and cardboard usually are.

The twist this time around was the introduction of more complex physical puzzles. These were the star of the show and added a surprising new dynamic. They were reasonably durable, but were absolutely breakable.


The new physical puzzles were super clever.

The art was beautiful.

A pile of the puzzle envelopes from the game, along with the multi-color solution wheel. One envelope depices a heavy door, another shows a desk with an unusual and ornate set of keys resting atop it.

Their solution wheel system for answer verification was still brilliant.


Those new and awesome physical puzzles unfortunately created some massive bottlenecks. There was no way for multiple people to work on them, so when we encountered one, the person who held it was the only person playing. Fortunately our team was mellow and good at taking turns.

The final couple of puzzles were surprisingly weak compared to the early and mid-game puzzles. The game faded away when it should have gone out with a bang.

The story didn’t feel quite as compelling as the story of the Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor. We weren’t as invested.

Should I play ThinkFun’s Escape The Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat?

At $22.00, Escape The Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat is a steal for any puzzle room lover. Play it with an intimate group and you’ll have a lot of fun.

Some puzzles were better than others, but overall this was a quality experience, especially when considering the price point.

As with its predecessor from ThinkFun and Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment, Dr. Gravely was easily a better game than half of the escape room market. This is a must-play for escape room owners and designers because, as we’ve said before, if you cannot objectively blow away this game with your real live escape room, then you’re making a big mistake.

There are no better deals in the escape room world than ThinkFun’s games.

Purchase your copy of ThinkFun’s Escape The Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat.

Full disclosure: ThinkFun provided a complimentary reviewer’s copy of Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale).

1 Comment

  1. Echoed my thoughts pretty much. I actually liked the story a little more – it felt like there was a little more intrigue to it. One thing that I really liked in this iteration was the feeling that you were exploring. In the previous offering it felt like a single room escape whereas this felt like a multi room game. It’s a silly distinction given that we’re talking paper envelopes but it made a difference to me. the game fading away is exactly how I felt and I suspect they could have rearranged the puzzles to combat that.

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