ThinkFun – Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse [Review]

Come play with us…

Location:  at home

Date Played: September 15, 2020

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 2-3 hours

Price: about $43

REA Reaction

We’ve heard whispers for years about Rebecca Bleau and Nicholas Cravotta’s followup to their original two Escape The Room games published by ThinkFun (Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor & Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat). We had heard tales of a dollhouse built from the game box, creating the feeling of an actual escape room on your table.

Those rumors were true.

Closeup of the assembled dollhouse.

Playing Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse felt a lot like playing an escape room on our table. We did a proper turn-down search in each room of the dollhouse – the first time we’ve searched like that since the beginning of March… and that felt damn good.

The puzzles in The Cursed Dollhouse played well. They were approachable, but noticeably more challenging than in ThinkFun’s previous two games. We enjoyed playing through almost all of this game, with the exception of a late-game segment that felt like a bit of a grind.

Overall, this was a premium product. It delivered the kind of experience we would have expected from a high-end boutique tabletop puzzle game company, not a mass market product, buyable off of a store shelf or Amazon. Thinking about it… it’s crazy that this product was manufactured with this level of care, and for that, our hats are off to the folks at ThinkFun.

We recommend you buy this thing. It’s novel, fun, and feels like an actual escape room in a box.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Prop collectors
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Strong and crafty puzzle content
  • You build a dollhouse out of the game’s packaging

Story

Everyone in the neighborhood remembered Old Man Garrity being a good guy, but ever since his daughter disappeared, he had withdrawn from the community.

Recently people had been hearing strange noises coming from the shed in Garrity’s backyard. We decided to break in… and found a dollhouse?

The Cursed Dollhouse box art depicting a creepy doll peering through the cracked wall of a dollhouse.

Setup

Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse began by instructing us to set up the dollhouse.

Box opening shows a kitched and bathroom, assorted cardboard piececs, and an instruction booklet.

The dollhouse was largely constructed out of the packaging that contained the rest of the game’s content, along with a number of other cardboard components. After a few minutes of setup, we began in the first room, read the story passage, and then literally turned down the room like it was a real-life escape room.

We input the solutions for all of the puzzles in the room into the solution wheel. If all answers were correct, we could advance to the next room in the dollhouse.

A sealed puzzle component envelope and an a solution disk.

This gameplay loop repeated for a total of 5 rooms in the dollhouse.

Structured hints were accessible via a website.

Gameplay

ThinkFun’s Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse was a standard play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Lisa peering over the dollhouse.
A standard reference Lisa.

Analysis

Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse was entertaining to construct. Impressively, the box turned into a dollhouse and all its components. The setup instructions were easy to follow. This was a manufacturing marvel.

➕ We searched the rooms in this game like they were real-life escape rooms. That felt fantastic. The vibrant print quality and tangible components were enticing. It was continually exciting to “move through” the set.

The Cursed Dollhouse fully assembled.

➕ The story worked well with the set and gameplay. It was just creepy enough, but never scary, and it made sense (in a haunted, fantastical way).

➖ Although we knew at the onset that rooms were not self-contained, it wasn’t clear enough which items were relevant immediately versus which would only be important later. We burned a lot of time trying to input a correct solution at the wrong point in the game. This felt particularly critical in the second room. In presenting this information, ThinkFun could have added more color.

➕ Overall, the puzzles were strong. They varied enormously in style. As a collaborative experience, there’s something in it for many different skill sets.

➖ One late-game segment fell flat. It used some of the same ideas, but less impressively than we’d seen them earlier. We wanted more intrigue from this part of the house.

➖ While some of the puzzles were self-validating, many were not.

➕ It’s been years since we beamed this much at one particular type of discovery.

➕ The hint website was well structured and thorough.

Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse packed a lot of gameplay – more than in ThinkFun’s previous boxed escape games, and more than many other mass market games of this sort. They maximized the components, turning almost everything into hands-on gameplay.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pen & paper were helpful, and an internet connected device was required for accessing the hint system

Buy your copy of ThinkFun’s Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: ThinkFun provided a sample for review.

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