Update 3/23/21: If you enjoy Solve of Shirts, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Anne & Chris Lukeman on The Reality Escape Pod.
Location: at home
Date Played: December 2020
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2
Duration: 60-90 minutes
Price: $35-$40 for a single shirt, $50-$60 for the deluxe edition, couples packs also available
Solve Our Shirts is a burgeoning product line that blends physical props, t-shirt design, and a digital interface to create a novel way to puzzle. The concept was cool and the execution was stellar.
CU Adventures has achieved a renowned status for their escape room design pre-2020, and their digital escape game design throughout 2020. With games like the 2020 Golden Lock Award-winning The Lost Temple and the similarly brilliant Floor 13, this small company from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois has provided some of our favorite puzzling experiences of the past year.
While there is only one installment currently in the Solve Our Shirts lineup, we have it on good authority that there will be more coming, so with this overview, we’re ready for when future installments arrive.
In the meantime, Escape from the Maze of the Minotaur is a must-play game for the at-home puzzler.
- Escape from the Maze of the Minotaur (review)
Who is this for?
- Story seekers
- Puzzle lovers
- Players who want a souvenir of their puzzling
- T-shirt wearers
- Any experience level
- Inventive puzzles
- Surprising moments
- You still have a high-quality t-shirt after you’ve solved all the puzzles.
Setup & Gameplay
Solve Our Shirts was easy to set up and get started. The core product consisted of a few components:
- Supplemental mailed content
- Web app
To begin, we signed into the website, looked at our t-shirts, and started in on the puzzles.
There was an additional pamphlet for playing on “easy mode.” This content didn’t change the nature of the puzzles; it simply added a little more clue structure for folks who have less experience with puzzles.
➕ These were high quality shirts. The women’s cut shirt fit nicely (which should not be taken for granted), if just a little long in a small size. No shirts were destroyed while solving any puzzles, so this game was its own souvenir.
➕ There was a ton of gameplay packed into the shirts.
➕ The web interface for inputting answers was solid. It had been slimmed down from its role in CU Adventures’ digital + printable games, which worked well here. The shirt was the star of the show and the digital interface added gating, solution validation, and hints.
➕ To make the product more accessible to less experienced puzzlers, there was an easy mode. Easy mode consisted of an extra pamphlet shipped with the shirt. Players can opt in by opening this pamphlet at any time. This additional information was elegantly worked into the game and added character while softening the difficulty curve.
➕ The hint system was solid.
❓/➖ Graphically, these are eye-catching shirts. But when you wear it around and someone inevitably asks you about it, I think the conversation leads to the awkward, “It’s a puzzle! But no, you can’t solve it now… and no, I can’t really explain it to you either.”
➕ We need to take a moment to appreciate that Solve Our Shirts is SOS… and their incorporation of Morse code into their branding was brilliant. …—…
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a small table
- Required Gear: pen and paper, scissors
- Don’t try to solve the shirt while wearing it.
- We recommend solving with a buddy. We had both shirts on the table in front of us, usually one front side up and the other back side up. It worked really well to have two copies of the shirt.
Buy Them Now
Buy your copies of Solve Our Shirts, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: CU Adventures provided a sample for review.