I’ll be back in 5 minutes.
Location: at home, with an internet connection
Date played: October 9, 2017
Team size: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯; we recommend 1-3
Duration: up to one month
Price: $24.95 per month
Story & setup
Sleuth Kings is a new play-at-home escape game subscription service that mixes mailed materials with online inputs.
We played the role of remote assistants to private investigator Sullivan King. King sent us a file of evidence and then we emailed with him when we’d solved pieces of the case or needed a little extra help from him.
The materials in Case 001: The Guilty were printed papers, photographs, and a rather fetching folder with Sleuth King’s logo emblazoned on the cover.
The internet interactions were predominantly email-based. Sullivan King was in fact… an email bot.
Case 001: The Guilty had us investigating a street revolutionary who went by the moniker Dictator Sin. We had to team up with Sullivan, root-out Dictator Sin’s plans, and stop him.
Sleuth King’s puzzle game was strong with varied, challenging, and interesting puzzles driving gameplay.
After we resolved a puzzle, we would email the solution to Sullivan who would “act on the information” and provide us with followup details.
I really enjoyed the puzzle offerings of Sleuth Kings.
The conversational interface of emailing with Sullivan was a good way to narrate a story and keep everything cohesive.
The Sleuth Kings logo is slick.
Sleuth Kings delivered puzzles that weren’t in the initial packaging.
As we sent information to Sullivan, he would take time to act on it. He’d reply, something like, “The address isn’t far. Give me five or ten minutes and I’ll email you when I’m there.” Then we’d literally have to wait 5 minutes or so before receiving another email moving the story forward and giving us our next task. This shattered the game flow.
Hinting got a little awkward because Sullivan-bot could only discern three things:
- Correct answers
- Incorrect answers
- Requests for help
When we were almost there, and simply inputting our answer incorrectly, it was treated as a wrong answer without any feedback that we were on the right track and simply needed a nudge.
Additionally, Sleuth Kings was constantly creating new email threads. All in, I had 19 threads through Case 001: The Guilty. It wasn’t initially clear to how this threading/ replying dynamic operated.
Many of the printed materials were a little hokey.
The story was fine, but not particularly believable.
Should I play Sleuth Kings’ Case 001: The Guilty?
If you evaluate the standouts versus shortcomings in this review purely on word count, it would be easy to think that Sleuth Kings was bad. It wasn’t. It was actually quite fun, and this was their first chapter.
Sleuth Kings has a fantastic concept and an interesting structure. It needs additional refinement to run smoothly, but it largely works.
Interaction with automated characters smartly mixed story, puzzling, and gameplay. If Sleuth Kings can refine the pacing issues and make the system a little more aware and able to identify nearly-correct answers, this would be phenomenal. Swapping from email to a chatbot, or the addition of another character who could “run errands” while the gameplay continues, could smooth over some of these issues.
Sleuth Kings is strong contender in the burgeoning subscription puzzle game market, and could make for a fantastic holiday gift for that special puzzle lover in your life.
I welcome our robotic puzzle overlords and look forward to where Sleuth Kings is heading.
Subscribe with Sleuth Kings, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Note that Case 001: The Guilty is no longer available. Your purchased subscription will start with the current month’s game.
Full disclosure: Sleuth Kings comped our tickets for this game.