A quick check-out.
Location: at home
Date Played: September 2023
Team size: 1-6; we recommend 1-4
Duration: 90 minutes
Clue Escape: The Midnight Hotel is a board game/ escape game hybrid that sends players on an investigation around the titular hotel, solving puzzles, discovering clues, and eventually piecing together an overarching Clue-themed mystery. The story takes place after Mr. Black’s death, in theory continuing the story of Clue: Treachery at Tudor Mansion.
Since that first installment of the Clue series of escape games, Hasbro has sanded down the edges considerably. Clue Escape: The Midnight Hotel is easier, less involved, and more linear, focusing more on narrative and less on puzzling. Despite the medium difficulty rating on the box, we found these puzzles to be very easy, best suited for younger players.
Otherwise, the hotel setting was fun, and Hasbro attempted something interesting with only paper components. But narratively, the underlying mystery wasn’t as compelling as the classic Clue formula—the where and what seemed urgent enough, but the whodunnit part felt a little forced, especially considering the crime in this story was an attempted hacking.
In general I’d recommend Treachery at Tudor Mansion more broadly, but if you’re looking for another game in the same vein and don’t mind the low difficulty level, The Midnight Hotel has the same charming gameplay with enough content to keep youngsters or beginning puzzlers entertained for an hour and a half.
Who is this for?
- Board game lovers
- Clue/ Cluedo fans
- Best for beginners
- Turn-based gameplay
- Collaborative solving
- To see what happens post-murder
Mr. Black’s murderer had escaped undetected. During his memorial at the Midnight Hotel, one of the suspects tried and failed to access his private server and steal the blackmail material he had on all six of us. We needed to figure out who it was, where the secret information was kept, and what password we needed to delete it, in order to evade capture once again.
The Midnight Hotel is ostensibly a sequel to Treachery at Tudor Mansion, but some of the suspects have slightly different names and characterizations. Maybe it’s just a sequel to the Clue board game in general, or perhaps a multiverse situation.
Just like in Clue: Treachery at Tudor Mansion, an initial page of instructions sets the scene and prompts players to read the quick start section of the rules. This leads into the tutorial board and then the main game.
In this installment, the tutorial board felt more like a tutorial, with relevant pages of the instructions indicated on each card.
Clue Escape: The Midnight Hotel was a puzzle mystery board game with a low level of difficulty. (The box rates it at 3/5, but we found it easier than Clue: Treachery at Tudor Mansion, which was rated 2/5.) Core gameplay revolved around investigation, observation, and making connections.
Like in the first installment, we chose our characters and read the intro story, then set up the first game board and card deck and began our investigation. We took turns choosing which item or location to investigate and drawing the numbered card corresponding to that area, which could be a narrative card, puzzle card, clue card, or some combination of these. We followed these narrative and puzzle threads through a fairly linear progression, building a layout of the hotel along the way. Then we used the clues we’d found to solve the central mystery in the finale.
➕ The tutorial section provides everything you need to understand the gameplay, so players can jump right in without having to read the rules booklet. It’s almost like a video game tutorial, where learning to play is built right into the game.
➕ Just like with the other games in this series, the turn-based gameplay allows everyone to get a turn investigating the scene, while keeping strong-willed players from taking over the game.
❓Compared to the first installment, Clue Escape: The Midnight Hotel seemed to have a higher ratio of narrative cards to gameplay cards containing puzzles or clues. Narrative cards sometimes led to more narrative cards, and it felt like we were reading more often than solving.
➖ Another thing that reduced the puzzling factor was that most of the puzzles were trivially easy, solvable within seconds by our team of two adults. Having just played the prequel, which had easy but interesting puzzles, we wished these puzzles required a little more thought.
➖ In the previous review, I said I’d wished there had been more extra cards for dead ends or wrong guesses. Clue Escape: The Midnight Hotel had no extra cards at all, and this streamlining took away from our enjoyment at times. For example, we could guess the answer to one of the stronger puzzles because we only had one card left to draw.
➕ We found the board-game-style mechanics as immersive as the previous Clue escape game, and this time Hasbro leveled up the gameplay when it came to constructing the hotel.
➖ In a few cases, the graphic design clashed with the narrative. One item description on a narrative card didn’t quite describe what we saw on the accompanying clue card. Some of the clue cards were related in a way that didn’t make logical sense, and we were never quite sure if it was a mistake.
➖ Attempting to retrieve sensitive data from a dead man’s servers may technically be a crime, but as a premise it didn’t feel crucial or antisocial enough to warrant an investigation by several other morally ambiguous characters. Also, determining the culprit in the finale felt more like educated guessing than logical deduction.
➕ We appreciated how easy the game was to reset for another group of players, and the fact that it’s (mostly) recyclable at the end of its life.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a small table
- Required Gear: none
Buy your copy of Hasbro’s Clue Escape: The Midnight Hotel, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Hasbro provided a complimentary game.