ThinkFun – Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse [Review]

Come play with us…

Location:  at home

Date Played: September 15, 2020

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 2-3 hours

Price: about $43

REA Reaction

We’ve heard whispers for years about Rebecca Bleau and Nicholas Cravotta’s followup to their original two Escape The Room games published by ThinkFun (Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor & Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat). We had heard tale of a dollhouse built from the game box, creating the feeling of an actual escape room on your table.

Those rumors were true.

Closeup of the assembled dollhouse.

Playing Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse felt a lot like playing an escape room on our table. We did a proper turn-down search in each room of the dollhouse – the first time we’ve searched like that since the beginning of March… and that felt damn good.

The puzzles in The Cursed Dollhouse played well. They were approachable, but noticeably more challenging than in ThinkFun’s previous two games. We enjoyed playing through almost all of this game, with the exception of a late-game segment that felt like a bit of a grind.

Overall, this was a premium product. It delivered the kind of experience we would have expected from a high-end boutique tabletop puzzle game company, not a mass market product, buyable off of a store shelf or Amazon. Thinking about it… it’s crazy that this product was manufactured with this level of care, and for that, our hats are off to the folks at ThinkFun.

We recommend you buy this thing. It’s novel, fun, and feels like an actual escape room in a box.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Prop collectors
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Strong and crafty puzzle content
  • You build a dollhouse out of the game’s packaging

Story

Everyone in the neighborhood remembered Old Man Garrity being a good guy, but ever since his daughter disappeared, he had withdrawn from the community.

Recently people had been hearing strange noises coming from the shed in Garrity’s backyard. We decided to break in… and found a dollhouse?

The Cursed Dollhouse box art depicting a creepy doll peering through the cracked wall of a dollhouse.
Continue reading “ThinkFun – Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse [Review]”

Novel Escape – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [Hivemind Review]

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar, created by Novel Escape in Austin, TX.

Room Escape Artist reviewed the real-life version of this game in August of 2019. This is review of the online adaptation.

In-game: A locked hatch within the submarine.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: 75 minutes

Price: $60 for first two connections; $15 for each additional connection

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This is a standard, avatar-guided adaptation of a real-life escape room. In addition to the live first-person video stream of the room, you also have an auto-populating inventory that allows you to inspect items up close. This game uses Zoom video chat with Telescape inventory.

In-game: A control panel with a variety of switches and buttons.

Hivemind Review Scale

Hatch Escapes – Mother of Frankenstein [Review]

Love, scandal, & puzzles

Location:  at home

Date Played: September 13, 2020

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 3-5 hours

Price: back on Kickstarter at $89 for the standard edition of the game

REA Reaction

Mother of Frankenstein was a narrative-driven experience with ample puzzle content.

Hatch Escapes has a history of putting story at the center of their productions. One of their co-founders Tommy Wallach is a New York Times bestselling author… and his expertise showed in Mother of Frankenstein. The writing was fantastic, which it needed to be. When a company makes the bold decision to retell the story of one of history’s most significant authors through an immersive narrative, writing quality matters.

Beyond the writing, Mother of Frankenstein included high quality puzzles and production (of the beta version). The Astronomy puzzle in particular was a standout puzzle, not just in this game; it ranks among my favorite puzzles.

An assortment of red, green, and brown interlocking tracks each with a symbol in the center.

We played about 40% of the full, 3-volume game, and between that experience and hearing more about what is coming next, I can comfortably say that we are sold on Mother of Frankenstein.

If you’re down for a narrative-focused experience with puzzle content evenly and thoroughly dispersed throughout, I’d strongly recommend backing this beast on Kickstarter. I’m already eager to continue the journey.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Exceptional writing, characterization, and voicing
  • Solid puzzling with a couple of true standouts

Story

Over the course of 3 volumes, Mother of Frankenstein reimagined the life and experiences of Mary Shelley that led to her writing Frankenstein. Shelley was quite the interesting character in her own right.

A welcome letter tied off with red, green, and brown ribbon.
Continue reading “Hatch Escapes – Mother of Frankenstein [Review]”

Omescape – Pursuit of Assassin Artist [Hivemind Review]

Pursuit of Assassin Artist is a time loop escape game, created for livestreamed play through an avatar, created by Omescape in San Jose, CA.

The artist walking around in his home.

Format

Style of Play: time loop style escape room, livestreamed and played through an avatar, and designed for livestream play

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, phone that can call a US number

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 90 minutes

Price: $179 per team, for up to 8 connections

Booking: book online for a specific time slot.

Description

This was a typical avatar-driven game with a pair of twists.

  1. There was a live actor as antagonist.
  2. Your avatar was a character trapped in a time loop. If you – through the avatar – make a critical failure, the avatar dies, and your avatar immediately returns to the start of the game with no memory of what has happened. Everything in the game world reset.

Expect the unexpected. This game plays with time resets, character improvisation, outside knowledge, and accumulated knowledge. Be ready for anything.

Hivemind Review Scale

Now Available: The 2020 State of the Industry RECON Session Video

This fall RECON is rereleasing each Featured Talk from this summer’s RECON ’20 Global. These talks will all be made accessiblefor free on the Room Escape Artist YouTube.

Our talk titled 2020: The State of the Escape Room Industry is now available!

Featured Talk Information

Photo of Lisa and David of Room Escape Artist in their wedding clothes dramatically escaping a bank vault.
Photo by Michael Zawadzki

Details: Originally presented on Monday, August 24 at 10:00 (New York)

Speakers: Lisa and David Spira

Company: Room Escape Artist

Abstract: The main theme of RECON ‘20 is one word: Adapt. Adaptation is what the state of the escape room industry demands today. Lisa and David Spira discuss how the industry had been trending at the start of the year, themes that have emerged during 2020, and their predictions for the future. They share data-driven findings, as well as their thoughts and intuitions from writing, playing, traveling, and conversing with this community. Here is a deeper look at how this industry is uniquely positioned in a global crisis, and how that drives creators to adapt.

Watch Party & Conversation

One of the most amazing parts of RECON was experiencing the Featured Talks with others. For this talk in particular, this perk of a digital RECON was surreal for us, since we could chat with you as our own talk streamed. And we’re excited to do it again tomorrow night!

Plus, if you thought our live Q&A was too short, you’re in luck. We’ll continue that conversation live tomorrow night in the RECON Discord.

Details

Date: Wednesday, September 23

Time: You can join the watch party starting at exactly 8:15pm (NYC time), or just join in on the post-video conversation at 9:00pm (NYC time).

Location: The RECON Discord

If you’re not already registered for RECON, you can register here.

6 Year US Escape Room Industry Report

On August 24, after delivering this session at RECON, we published the 6 Year US Escape Room Industry Report.

The data we’ve collected to create the Room Escape Artist Directory is the backbone of this data-backed look at this industry, and how it’s changed over the past 6 years.

New Data Initiatives

We mention in the talk that we are looking for folks willing to share their data to contribute to industry research efforts. If you’re interested in being contacted about future industry research opportunities, please fill out this form:

About RECON ’20

RECON ’20 was Room Escape Artist’s digital escape room convention featuring 15 pre-recorded talks, live Q&As, and over 30 exhibitors. We had over 900 attendees from 62 countries watching and participating live.

Each of the 15 talks will be made available for free on our YouTube channel this fall. We’ll release one each week.

Please subscribe to the RECON Newsletter to receive updates on RECON ’21 – we are just getting started.

Support RECON

This event including all the Featured Talks were produced for free, but we couldn’t do this without the support of our Patreon Backers. If you receive value from these videos, and have the means to support this effort, we would love to have you join our Patreon community.