Family friendly bomb scare.
Location: at home
Date played: November 8, 2016
Team size: 1-8; we recommend 2-3
Duration: 60 minutes, give or take
Price: $50 per box plus $10 shipping (US only)
Story & setting
This Etsy-purchased boxed escape room was a “bomb in a box.”
Upon opening it, we read the friendliest bomb-threat ever written and began to puzzle our way to survival. (In retrospect, we would have had more than enough time to just toss the explosive box in the Hudson River.)
Conundrum was an unusual game even compared to the diverse array of at-home escape room games on the market. It was essentially hacked together out of school supplies. I’m not sure whether its creator is an elementary school teacher or has elementary school-aged kids, but I’d bet my last penny it’s either one or both.
From a letter-locked pencil case to a beautifully modified ruler, it felt as though the creator was dared to build a game entirely out of school supplies.
Conundrum was a box of puzzles. Possibly because of the materials, it included some strange and intriguing puzzles.
These puzzles demanded some surprising activity, so much so that we were at times worried that we were seriously misinterpreting what we needed to do.
Conundrum’s puzzles brought back random childhood memories.
The box contained a lot of locks. They were inexpensive Chinese knockoffs of common room escape locks, but they were tangible and interactive nonetheless. That was neat.
The low maintenance hinting system was simple and well-executed.
There were some great puzzles and wonderfully strange interactions in Conundrum.
Conundrum jerry-rigged the box with creative tech. This was minimal, but it was also a completely unnecessary touch that put smiles on our faces.
The game required some destructive interactions and we weren’t quite clear on that at the onset. We spent a lot of time looking for the permission to wreck things that didn’t quite materialize. We had to take a hint to find that permission… and it was difficult for us to determine which hint was for the interaction that we needed to do at that moment.
Playing Conundrum destroys some significant components. This game is not replayable and cannot be easily reloaded. If you’re motivated, you absolutely can repack the thing and replace the destroyed components, but it would take some doing.
For a non-replayable at-home room escape, at $70 per box, it’s expensive.
Should I play Coventry Road Games’ Conundrum?
Conundrum was a strange game. It was made from a crazy assortment of kid-friendly crafting items. It had more technology than most at-home games. It was loaded with idiosyncratic interactions and puzzles. All of this made it a fun and interesting at-home puzzle experience.
It was also hacked together, unpolished, a little difficult to follow at times, and expensive.
Conundrum would be a great family entertainment experience; play this as a family of 3-5 and let the kids touch the pieces. For adults, this could be a fun time for 2-3 if you can’t get to a room escape, but know that it’s pricey compared to what you can get from a live room escape or other mass-market at-home games.
Conundrum was so very handmade it should be Etsy’s mascot. What it lacked in polish it made up for in love.
Did it feel like an immersive race to defuse a bomb? Absolutely not. But it never tried to be.
It was a quirky box of family-friendly puzzles and school-supplies-turned-oddities. If that sounds like its your jam, then you should buy a copy.
Buy your box of Coventry Road Games’ Conundrum, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Coventry Road Games provided a complimentary reviewer’s copy of this game.