Houdini’s Secret Room [Hivemind Review]

Houdini’s Secret Room is a print-and-play escape game for kids made by creators based in Macedonia.

Houdini's Secret Room papers printed with scissors, a pen, a stapler, and a gluestick.

Format

Style of Play: print-and-play escape game

Required Equipment: printer, pen and paper, scissors; stapler/ tape is recommended

There was a lot to be printed and one reviewer noted some issues with the orientation of the paper. There was some cutting, but the stapler/ tape only needed to be used once.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $29

Booking: buy from the website and play at your leisure

Description

To play this game, a gamemaster prints and prepares materials for three challenges. Each challenge results in a code or key that the players tell to the gamemaster. The gamemaster verifies the answer against a digital walkthrough file and permits the players to proceed if the answer is correct.

If you want to play this game along with your kids without serving as a gamemaster, you need to access to the supplementary website to validate answers instead of the walkthrough file.

Note: The design and content of this game are for children.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

My early-elementary-aged children were hypnotized by this game. The simple story captivated them, the art intrigued them, the puzzles satisfied them (with some parental guidance), and a bona fide magic trick mystified them. They ran around pretending to be Houdini for the rest of the afternoon. If the price were lower or there were 1-2 more puzzles, I would recommend this outside of pandemic times, especially for a party for older children (e.g. 9-13 year olds?). During pandemic times, though, this kind of novelty for children is a lifesaver.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

This print-at-home escape room kit needs a host to prepare it, which takes less than 30 minutes… but it also took less than 30 minutes to play the entire thing.

At its best, the game has beautiful, themed artwork. It additionally comes with printable posters. The setup instructions are well written. The game mechanics include cards that give players individual information and make them feel special when it’s their turn to contribute to the solution.

At its worst, they propose this as an “experience for all ages” when in reality it’s clearly a kids’ game. There’s a lot to be printed, but little actual gameplay. Despite solid puzzles, it’s not worth $29 in my book. The instructions suggest a 3-minute penalty for every wrong code. Sure, players should be stopped from brute-forcing, but that’s not the way to go.

If you work with kids and you plan on reusing the game, it may be worth it. According to their website, each purchase includes a $5 donation to kids in need. They also guarantee a refund if you’re not satisfied.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

This print-and-play “escape room” is visually an absolute stunner, with magical full-color illustrations on every page. The puzzles are cute, albeit short, and make creative use of the physical medium. I was somewhat surprised to find a few spelling typos throughout, though, given how polished the game presentation is otherwise.

However, the proportions of the game felt a bit off: 22 pages of color printing for only 3 small puzzles. Escape room enthusiasts very clearly are not the target audience here, as is made explicit on the game’s website, which describes this as a “Printable Escape Room Kit for Kids.” (I personally finished solo in 12 minutes – far less time than it actually took to set it up.) I could see this game being a blast for a small kids’ birthday party though as there’s not much process or parallelizable action to any of these puzzles, likely no more than 2 or 3 kids could actively work on them.

Disclosure: Houdini’s Secret Room provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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