Jigsaw puzzle mixed with a tabletop escape game.
Location: at home
Team size: We recommend 1-4
We really liked this series of puzzle hybrids: famed jigsaw puzzle producer Ravensburger applied an escape room-esque twist to their core product.
We enjoyed ourselves so much that we solved 3 of them while our friend, the wonderfully talented puzzler Tammy McLeod, spent a weekend visiting us.
In the first wave, Ravensburger has released 4 separate Escape Puzzles, each containing 759 puzzle pieces and incorporating 6 or 8 puzzles within the assembled image.
We love jigsaw puzzles. The Escape Puzzle twist was delightful because it added more purpose behind the assembling of a jigsaw puzzle.
Not all of these puzzles were created equal. Some had more interesting art; others had better puzzles. We will discuss each in an individual review.
If this concept sounds like fun, begin with Witch’s Kitchen or Space Observatory for reasons that will become more clear in subsequent reviews.
The Original Collection:
Presented in order from our favorite to least favorite:
The Second Collection:
Who is this for?
- Jigsaw puzzlers
- Puzzle lovers
- Any experience level
- They are good jigsaw puzzles
- The added twist of an additional system of puzzles
- The meta-puzzles
Setup & Gameplay
We’re going to publish short reviews of each puzzle in the series. For the sake of simplicity and repetition reduction, we’re covering the basics in this overview.
While the individual Ravensburger Escape Puzzles each offered a unique picture and puzzle set, they all followed the same structure:
1. Jigsaw Assembly
We began by assembling the 759-piece jigsaw puzzle. This progressed normally with only two deviations from traditional jigsaw puzzles:
First, we had to remove the extraneous rectangular pieces. These appeared to be a byproduct of Ravensburger’s production process. They were a minor annoyance.
Second, the edge of the Escape Puzzles was a bit strange. There were only 3 piece shapes and any of the pieces could interconnect with any other. Edge assembly relied completely upon the pieces’ colors, patterns, and textures.
Additionally, many of the edge pieces had 2, 3, or 4 digit numbers printed on them. These became relevant later.
2. Puzzles Within the Puzzle
After assembling the jigsaw puzzle, we identified and solved the 6 or 8 puzzles within it. Some puzzles were obvious; some were more concealed. They were all embedded within the jigsaw puzzle image.
Each puzzle resolved to a number. Once we derived a correct answer, we’d find the piece with the corresponding number printed on it around the edge of the jigsaw puzzle. Then we removed that piece.
If we got stuck, we could reference a hint website for help. The hints were tiered, but usually only had two tiers.
3. The Meta-Puzzle
Each escape puzzle concluded with a meta-puzzle, or a puzzle made from the solutions of other puzzles.
We had to take our collection of numbered edge pieces from the previous step and determine what to do with them. I won’t say anything else about this, but it was our favorite part of these puzzles.
➕ The “escape room” puzzles at the end were a delightful addition to the traditional jigsaw puzzle. It was exciting to finish the jigsaw and then receive an entirely new challenge to cap things off. This game component was a welcome dynamic.
➕ Ravensburger makes high quality jigsaw puzzles that are printed well and fit snugly. They also have a beautiful blue backing that doesn’t add much from a functional standpoint, but looks more elegant than the traditional grey or brown backings that are common on most cardboard jigsaw puzzles.
➕ 759 pieces was a good piece count. It was serious enough to present a challenge without being so large that we were reluctant to dive in.
➕ Ravensburger cleverly included differences between the box art and the puzzle art. These changes were part of the environment itself and felt logically grounded. They also ensured that we couldn’t solve the puzzles without first solving the jigsaw puzzle.
➕ Ravensburger puzzles don’t have a crazy amount of puzzle dust. There’s still dust, but we’ve seen so much worse.
➖ Each Escape Puzzle’s box contained numerous square frame pieces that had nothing to do with the puzzle itself. They were garbage. These appeared to be an artifact of the production process. While it was not a big problem, it was a bit annoying to have to sift these junk pieces out of the box.
➕ Each Escape Puzzle had its own quirky story to set up the “escape.” The story was relevant to the final meta puzzle.
➕/➖ The “escape” puzzles were static print puzzles, akin to the kind of thing that one might find shared on social media or within a puzzle book. For the most part, these were executed well (detailed, non-spoiler analysis to follow in the individual puzzle reviews). While there is a limit to how much a designer can achieve with this format, Ravensburger did more with this structure than we were expecting.
❓ Some of these puzzles got a bit math-y. It never involved anything beyond basic computation, but I know that there are some escape room players who are allergic to mathematics in any form.
➕/➖ The web-based hint system was adequate. It did a great job of highlighting the individual puzzles… and an ok job of providing granular, incremental hints. This system could benefit from the inclusion of more dropdown menus to allow the player to better control the flow of hints.
❓ The edge pieces were unusual in that they all fit into one another. This made the edge considerably more difficult to assemble. It was completely doable, but required a lot more attention to detail and effort. For some, it may be easier to start from the middle.
➖The puzzles within the image all solved to a number that we’d find printed on an edge piece. This meant we could get most of the way to an answer and hack our way to the proper solution based on the available numbers.
❓We spent considerably more time solving the jigsaw puzzles than solving the “escape room” puzzles.
➕ Some of the numbered edge pieces ultimately culminated in a final meta-puzzle… and this mechanic was really cool. Ravensburger used it in clever ways in all instances. It was a delightful way to conclude the experience.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: You’ll need a flat surface. The puzzles all measure 27 x 20 inches (70 x 50 cm). The puzzles are 33 pieces by 23 pieces.
- Required Gear: None. We like to assemble our puzzles on a large piece of foam core in case we have to move them.
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Disclosure: Ravensburger provided a sample for review.
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