Missing Pieces – Cuckoo’s Clock [Review]

High gear ratio

Location:  Edina, MN

Date Played: May 30, 2022

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27.50 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Cuckoo’s Clock was a puzzle-forward take on a clocktower theme.

With light narrative framing and a ton of content available to work on in parallel, this style of gameplay would be well suited for medium-to-large teams of newer players.

That said, I played Cuckoo’s Clock solo. I had to work for it and took a few hints, but I made it out in time. More experienced players may also enjoy the extra challenge that comes with a smaller team, as this game’s difficulty comes more from the quantity of puzzles than difficulty of individual puzzles.

A steampunk time machine with lots of large gears.

Most of the puzzles in Cuckoo’s Clock were enjoyable. They involved manipulating physical pieces and had a handmade charm. In the mix, though, a handful of puzzles reflected questionable design choices — red herrings, logic leaps, bits of outside knowledge — that made me lose some level of trust in the game design early on. These puzzles weren’t broken, but they reflected an older style of escape room puzzle design that felt somewhat arbitrary, especially to well-traveled players.

If you are in the Minneapolis area, especially newer players looking for a challenge, give Cuckoo’s Clock a try.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Large teams
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Lots of puzzles
  • Lots of clocks

Story

Clara von Clockenstein had turned the Minneapolis Clock Tower into an evil machine designed to destroy every processor in the city. We had until midnight to disable the mechanism and avert disaster.

Setting

Cuckoo’s Clock was set within the upper floor of a clocktower. The tower’s large clock face, surrounded by gears, also served as a window out onto the city. The space was filled with a random assortment of other smaller clocks, gears, and controls.

A steampunk office.

Gameplay

Missing Pieces’ Cuckoo’s Clock was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty. Difficulty came mostly from volume of puzzles.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, solving puzzles, and making connections.

Analysis

➕ The illustration and animation in the marketing and intro video for Cuckoo’s Clock were sleek and polished.

➕ There was a large quantity of puzzles, with some fun moments along the way.

➖ The puzzle design was messy in parts. A puzzle required outside knowledge to make a tenuous connection; another required knowledge of a local abbreviation. A puzzle was littered with unnecessary red herrings. The final step of a multi-layered, otherwise enjoyable puzzle had an ambiguous solution, subject to interpretation.

➕ Within the clock theme, I appreciated that the puzzles largely avoided tedious clock math, instead providing a plethora of other variations on clocks, time, and gears.

➖ There were some finicky inputs, and many props and set pieces were showing substantial wear. Even the most easily replaceable components — dry erase markers and sheets of laminated paper — had seen better days.

➕ I was a bit more liberal than usual with taking hints as I was playing solo, and the gamemaster was responsive and helpful.

➖/➕ A final puzzle seemingly required guess-and-check, with half-concealed confirmation mechanisms and the apparent ghost of a puzzle once guiding where to place things. This finale felt like a letdown more than a victory, though a final video wrapping up the story was nicely produced.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with Missing Pieces’ Cuckoo’s Clock, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Missing Pieces provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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