Crazy cat lady puzzle book.
Location: at home
Date Played: March 2018
Team size: 1 -¯\_(ツ)_/; we recommend 1-2
Price: $16 per copy
Escape from the Room: The Curse of Old Maid Milly was a charming and generally straightforward reimagining of a real-life escape room as a puzzle book. While it wasn’t a challenging game, it captured the quick-hit escape room puzzle style quite well.
If you’re looking for a puzzle book to push the boundaries of your puzzling ability, there are more challenging options out there. If you’re looking for a puzzle book that captures the feel of an escape room, this a great choice. We loved carrying it with us on our travels.
Who is this for?
- Puzzle lovers
- Crazy cat people
- It’s cool to see an actual real life escape room adapted into a book.
- The puzzles play well.
- It’s inexpensive and fun.
This real life escape room-turned-puzzle book casts the reader as Dr. Alan Harris, a professor of paranormal activity. Dr. Harris was investigating a room where a mysterious reclusive cat lady named Milly had died when he was suddenly locked in.
Could Dr. Harris uncover the secrets that have kept Milly’s soul trapped in her home and escape?
The Curse of Old Maid Milly began its life as an actual escape room in the United Kingdom (review by Ken Ferguson at The Logic Escapes Me). After closing the real life escape room, the creator converted it into a book-based escape game. According to Ken, roughly 50% of the puzzles were changed in the shift to print.
Each 2-page spread of the book presented either puzzle and story or a black and white sketch of the game environment.
Puzzle and story pages would deliver most of the content as prose. Light gray text was explicitly for story and could be ignored by the more puzzle-minded. Black text was necessary for the completion of a puzzle.
Map pages depicted a larger area. The map would be labeled with corresponding pages that contained illustrations of what we would see if we looked in that direction.
The black and white sketches filled us in on the aesthetics of the room and contained observable clues for solving puzzles.
Puzzle pages contained a page number (more on that in a moment), light gray story text, and black puzzle text. Some puzzles also contained additional graphics.
Puzzle solutions came in the form of page numbers. To verify an answer, we had to flip to that page and see if we should be heading there. If we were correct, the page we flipped to had the next segment of story and a puzzle.
Not all of the puzzles initially resolved to a number. There was a consistent translation mechanism that enabled us to convert directions and words into numbers.
Occasionally the book would inform us that Dr. Harris had decided to save an object in his satchel. This news was always delivered in black puzzle text and satchel was bolded for extra effect. Whenever this happened, we needed to log the item, as we would eventually need to recall it in order to solve certain challenges.
+ This was a good beginner puzzle book. The puzzles resolved cleanly. Few offered serious challenge. When we were stumped, it was usually because we had failed to notice a detail.
+ The page jumping mechanic was an interesting approach to answer checking.
– Because we were constantly jumping from the back of the book, to the middle, to the front, and back again, at any given point in time, we had little concept of how deep into the game we were.
– We did not enjoy the satchel game mechanic. It made a good effort at recreating the feel of using found objects to solve puzzles, but it wasn’t exciting. These “puzzles” felt more like throwaway moments. It was more effort to track satchel items than it was worth.
+/- The story was good, but entirely too wordy. There were times where if felt as if the story text may have been added simply to fill white space on the page.
+ The light gray vs black text to separate story from puzzle worked well.
+/- Old Maid Milly had a cute print-based take on escape room search puzzles. We didn’t love these puzzles, but they absolutely captured the right vibe.
+ The hint system was structured and easy to use.
+ This book was fun to carry around on a trip. We would make a little progress here and there. It was easy to put down and pick up again.
Tips for Playing
- You will want some sort of bookmark.
- You need to log all of the satchel items. Failure to do so will result in annoyance and backtracking later on. We might be speaking from experience on this.
- It is possible to play this game without writing in the book, but requires extra effort.
Book your hour with Escape from the Room’s The Curse of Old Maid Milly, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Escape from the Room provided a complementary copy of this book.