Son of Doctor Esker's Notebook [Review]

Its father’s son.

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 24, 2019

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: about $15

REA Reaction

I’m going to give you a decision tree to answer the question, “Should I buy Son of Doctor Esker’s Notebook?”

The purple box for Son of Esker.
  • Did you play the original Doctor Esker’s Notebook?
  • Did you enjoy Doctor Esker’s Notebook?
    • If yes, continue on. If no, you can probably leave.
  • Do you want a 9-puzzle expansion pack for Doctor Esker’s Notebook?
    • If yes, buy now. If no, 👋

These are structurally the same game with different puzzles. For me, single biggest difference between Doctor Esker’s Notebook and Son of Doctor Esker’s Notebook was that I greatly preferred the final puzzle in the original. Beyond that, these games played identically and felt just as satisfying.

I enjoyed another dip into this particular pool, but my hope is that future installments will expand or change the gameplay and mechanics.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • You liked the first Esker
  • Strong puzzles
  • The Esker solution input mechanism is still great

Story

As with the original Doctor Esker’s Notebook, Son of Esker didn’t have a noticeable plot line; it was a collection of puzzles.

10 stacks of cards with photographs and art on the back.
Each stack of cards contained the components for an individual puzzle.

Setup

Son of Esker was functionally identical to the original. There were 9 different puzzles presented as stacks of cards.

There was a 10th stack of cards used to assemble solutions. The solution to one puzzle pointed us to the next puzzle in the sequence.

If we needed hints, they were available via a website.

Closeup of a stack of cards that reads "Start"
What could this mysterious message mean?

Gameplay

Son of Doctor Esker’s Notebook was a challenging, puzzle-centric play-at-home escape game contained within a deck of cards.

An assortment of cards with a hand drawn map on the.
A glimpse of the first puzzle.

Analysis

See our original review. Our structural critiques apply to the sequel as well. The primary difference was that we didn’t encounter any learning curve problems the second time around, but that had more to do with us than it did the game.

➕ We truly enjoyed most of the puzzles.

❓ The leap in difficulty from the first to the second puzzle was substantial. While it was jarring, it wasn’t necessarily bad in the context of a sequel.

➖ One puzzle hit a sour note for us. Another graphic-heavy puzzle was bizarrely designed and had us wondering if we really were seeing what we saw.

➖ We didn’t love the final puzzle. It played with many of the same ideas as the final puzzle in the original, but the sequel’s conclusion wasn’t as friendly for group solves. It was a considerably more complicated logic puzzle and we found that it was better for a single solver to work on it in focused silence… which led to a quiet, solitary conclusion.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table or the floor
  • Required Gear: pen and paper

Buy your copy of Son of Doctor Esker’s Notebook, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Son of Doctor Esker’s Notebook provided a sample for review.

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