Investigation for Professor Errol
Location: at home
Date Played: December 4, 2022
Team size: We recommend 1-3 kids plus an adult
Duration: 30-60 minutes per mission
It’s always exciting to find high-quality experiences that introduce kids and families to the joys of puzzling. The Detective Society’s Family Adventures compendium accomplished just that, spanning 3 whimsical mysteries that introduce players to a likable cast of characters (and suspects) and teach a range of very light puzzle and ARG mechanics.
Last year, REA contributor Sarah Mendez reviewed a print-and-play version of the first mission in this trilogy, The Missing Potion.
The mailed-to-you version of Family Adventures fixed many of the apparent issues in the print-and-play version. They improved their graphic design, the onboarding was streamlined, and they added two more missions alongside The Missing Potion.
I was not the intended audience for Family Adventures: each mission took me around 15 minutes, and adult puzzlers will not find much value in this game (The Detective Society’s other offerings are a bit more substantive for adult players.) But for kids and families, Family Adventures is a stellar option in a market that is otherwise moderately oversaturated with low-quality offerings. I wish more tabletop escape room companies would take the time to thoughtfully adapt their style to younger audiences in this way.
One nitpick: while the game’s presentation looked nice, almost like a set of 3 DVD cases (not that kids these days would even know what those are…), the packaging provided insufficient protection and the games arrived partially crushed. Though perhaps a side effect of international shipping, flat-packed envelopes might have been a safer and more economical approach for Family Adventure‘s flat paper components.
Who is this for?
- Young puzzlers (we recommend 9-14 year olds)
- Newbie puzzlers of any age
Each chapter of The Detective Society’s Family Adventures presented a new mystery to be solved.
In Mission 1: The Missing Potion, someone had nabbed an invisibility potion from Professor Errol’s lab.
In Mission 2: Time Travel Trouble, a time traveling clock and some other artifacts had been stolen from a museum.
In Mission 3: The Smashed Piñata, a child’s birthday piñata had been prematurely smashed by a party-pooping culprit.
Family Adventures required minimal setup. Players will need an Internet-connected device that can play videos and audio. The physical components take up very little space and can fit on any flat surface.
The Detective Society’s Family Adventures was a kid-focused play-at-home puzzle game with a low level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around following instructions, reading documents, noticing details, making connections, and solving puzzles.
A website provided at the start of each mission allows players to “text” with a character, providing answer confirmation and progressively releasing more of the story.
➕ The physical components of The Detective Society’s Family Adventures looked nice, with a range of colorful paper components. Cards, pamphlets, and notes were all well designed and well printed.
➖ The game’s physicality felt underutilized. Most of the gameplay just involved reading, and if I’m being shipped a box of stuff, I’d love to see more tactile interactions.
➖/➕ The game boxes arrived partially crushed, having been packed in a cardboard sleeve that provided little extra support. None of the game materials were damaged, and the packaging was clean and attractive overall.
➕ A single onboarding card for each chapter of the game was clear and concise, providing streamlined access to the starting website and intro story for each new mission.
➕ The 3 missions each had adorably kid-friendly mysteries that were approachable both in their subject matter and writing style. With references to birthday party piñatas and TikTok videos, this content seemed calibrated to its intended audience.
❓ Though the missions were numbered 1-3, the stories were all independent of each other and really could have been played in any order. Perhaps there were some missed opportunities here for episodic storytelling or at least stronger recurring characters, but for a younger audience, these bite-sized standalone adventures were sufficiently cohesive.
➕ The puzzles were simple, short, and satisfying. They had logical solutions and extractions that fit the story.
➕ Various websites utilized in each mission had clear interfaces and fit the narrative. Everything worked as expected.
➕ Texting-style interactions took place via a web interface, rather than requiring actual SMS or Whatsapp messaging like in other The Detective Society games. This was a wise tech decision for this game’s international, younger audience.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: Small table or floor space to spread out printed components
- Required Gear: A phone or computer with Internet access, pencil and paper for taking notes
- Apparently, Professor Errol has no relation to another infamous escape room Errol.
Buy your copy of The Detective Society’s Family Adventures, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: The Detective Society provided a media copy for review.