Location: at home
Date Played: July 14, 2021
Team size: we recommend 1-4
Price: about $42 (jigsaw puzzle prices are running high during the pandemic)
If The Toy Factory Escape Puzzle were given a Dungeons & Dragons alignment, it would be chaotic evil… and I mean that in both its aesthetic design and its execution.
The menacing image on the jigsaw puzzle was strangely refreshing. Jigsaw puzzle images, near as I can tell, are typically made to appeal to children or midwestern women in their 50s… and not a lot in the middle. The Toy Factory looked grimly playful, and it really pulled me into the assembly.
This puzzle also benefited from a much better edge design than the earlier batches of Ravensburger Escape Puzzles. Additionally the lower piece count made this a much lower commitment to assemble. (Whether that’s good or bad is a matter of personal preference.)
This is where my kind words end… because the only thing scarier than the picture were the puzzles contained within. The overwhelming majority of them were a disaster. These were the kinds of puzzles where you look at the hints and wish the designer were in the room so they could personally experience your utter disappointment in their choices.
It’s horrifying to think that this puzzle is being circulated on the shelves of mainstream toy stores. Ravensburger, y’all need a better puzzle designer. Call us. We could recommend literally dozens of people who could help you solve these problems.
Solve this one for the image and ignore the escape part… or experience it as a lesson in bad puzzle design.
This review only covers details specific to this individual Ravensburger Escape Puzzle.
For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Ravensburger Escape Puzzle Overview.
Of note, The Toy Factory had only 368 pieces. Most of the previous escape puzzles we’ve reviewed had 759 pieces.
We did it! We actually bought a real life toy factory! Strangely, as soon as the contract had been signed, the previous owner ran off as fast as he could. Shortly thereafter, we realized something was very wrong with this toy factory, when the hideous and disfigured toys emerged from the production line with a life of their own, and ill-intent.
The analysis in this section is about the content of The Toy Factory.
➕ The jigsaw puzzle was fun to assemble. It came together quickly. At 368 pieces, it was much more approachable as a jigsaw puzzle than the 759-piece puzzles in this series were.
➕/❓ We appreciated the unusual image, which will appeal to some and not others.
➖ The escape puzzles were simply not fun. We identified elements for all the puzzles immediately, but all too frequently, we were just a bit off in locating the meaningful components. Certain things mattered – or didn’t – for no good reason. Often an arbitrary subset of items had meaning. Solving felt random and chaotic.
➖ We solved only one puzzle without resorting to hints and it was a grind.
➖ There were errors in these puzzles ranging from mistranslation of symbols to bad arithmetic.
➕ The edge design of this puzzle was a big improvement over earlier Ravensburger Escape Puzzles, with a much cleaner and solvable aesthetic.
➕ The final meta solve was great. It was a surprising conclusion.
Buy your copy of Ravensburger’s The Toy Factory Escape Puzzle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Ravensburger provided a sample for review.
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