Significant Updates to DarkPark Games’ Conspiracy-19

Back in June we released a review of DarkPark Games’ Conspiracy-19. We described the game as, “interesting, bumpy, and fixable.”

In response, DarkPark Games has issued significant patching to Conspiracy-19, by augmenting the digital side of the experience.

Pomotional image displaying the contents of the game box.

The most notable shift was a complete overhaul of their hint system.

Beyond that, they added quite a few smaller quality-of-life improvements that I suspect will dramatically improve the flow of the game, but it is admittedly hard to assess this in a game that I have already played.

Our review has been updated to reflect these changes to the best of our ability without changing what was originally published.

Should I Buy?

If you were on the fence about Conspiracy-19, I think that it has been significantly improved, and I feel a lot more comfortable recommending it at this point.

That said…

DarkPark Games’ latest creation, Witchery Spell, is special on a whole different level, and I would easily recommend it before playing Conspiracy-19. Both are worthy of playing, but Witchery Spell is magical.

The Master Theorem [Review]

Pure Puzzle Play

Location:  at home

Date Played: 2019-2020

Team size: 1 – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $29.99

REA Reaction

The Master Theorem was a pure puzzle book presented beautifully.

Whether or not you buy this really comes down to a single question:

“Do I want a puzzle book?”

-You

If the answer is “yes,” then buy it… otherwise don’t.

The Master Theorem book cover.

The Master Theorem simply succeeded at puzzle book. It was pretty, well written, and beautifully presented. My only gripe was that its solid-enough hint system could have been a little bit more nuanced and user-friendly.

Whether you’re a seasoned puzzler or brand new to puzzles, there’s something to enjoy here… the difference will be how much time you spend enjoying it.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level – it will teach you over time if you’re a newbie

Why play?

  • A collection of finely crafted puzzles
  • The layouts and color print quality was beautiful
  • The solution descriptions were especially thorough
  • The writing style

Story

The Master Theorem was narrated by the mysterious character “M.” M’s goal was to grow his global secret society of problem solvers, something that the world desperately needs more of… so M produced a book for an expanded reach.

Continue reading “The Master Theorem [Review]”

Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion [Review]

“… And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 6, 2020

Team size: 1-5; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 120+ minutes

Price: about $30

REA Reaction

Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion was fun and playful. While the puzzles were adequate – some a bit better, some a bit worse -and generally unremarkable, it was written and illustrated perfectly. You play Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion for the overall experience.

Scooby-Doo Escape from the Haunted Mansion box art depicts th Mystery Inc gang in front of an ominous mansion.

This game plays like it was born out of a lab that dissected all of the other store-bought tabletop escape games and mixed what they found with top-notch Scooby writing. The result was unique, even if almost every component in the box could have come from any other tabletop escape game. The magic was in the brilliance of letting the narrative material shine.

Scooby-Doo is smart escape room material. Scooby is multi-generational and mystery-focused. Its tropes are entirely achievable through escape room gameplay, tabletop or otherwise.

Play Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion because you enjoy Scooby-Doo or because you have a family or group of friends seeking carefree amusement… because that’s what this was: light-hearted fun.

Who is this for?

  • Scooby-Doo fans
  • Story seekers
  • Cartoon art fans
  • Families
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fantastic Scooby character writing
  • Easygoing, exploration-based play
  • You’re a fan of the Scooby gang

Story

The Mystery Inc. gang of Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, Fred, and of course Scooby, had been summoned to a haunted mansion to investigate the ghost of Lady Fairmont. Hijinks ensued.

Map tiles with the various charactr pieces on or surrounding them.
Continue reading “Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion [Review]”

Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays [Review]

I’m a stress jigsaw puzzler.

Something bad happens. I do a jigsaw puzzle.

Someone dies. I crack open a jigsaw puzzle.

I found out that we were entering quarantine on account of a global pandemic… well… I had a stack of jigsaw puzzles. In anticipation of a significant increase in my jigsaw puzzling activity, I bought a box of Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays and gave them a try over the past 6 months.

Many jigsaw puzzles later, these are my thoughts.

Puzzle Tray packaging beside a stack of trays.

Reaction

I have seen these trays for years, and always disregarded them as an unnecessary decadence. We’ve always had a humble setup for jigsaw puzzling. (Our only gear has been a large piece of damaged foam-core board that we assemble on so that we can move the puzzle if needed.)

When I saw Hivemind reviewer Tammy McLeod, puzzler extraordinaire and our jigsaw puzzling sensei, using Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays, I thought, “for $10, I’ll give them a shot.”

After a lot of testing I can honestly tell you that they make a difference.

Traditional cardboard jigsaw puzzl pieces in a tray shaped like a blue puzzle piece.

The trays make it much easier to organize our pieces and stay organized. These trays make it easier to look for pieces and pass collections of pieces around the board.

Are they necessary? Absolutely not. My initial assessment of puzzle trays as a decadence was correct.

Am I happy that I have them? That’s a big yes. Their form is designed for their function. They are superior to using the box, laying pieces all over the table, and using kitchen bowls. I love how easily we can stack them and clean up our table when we need it.

If you’re an avid jigsaw puzzler, a $10 set of Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays is a decadence, but it’s a worthwhile decadence.

What’s in the Box?

This product is simple. It contains 6 stacking blue trays molded in the shape of puzzle pieces. They measure 7.5″ x 6.5″ x 0.75″.

Analysis

➕ The fact that these trays are 3/4 of an inch deep means that they are far easier to look into and fish around in than the box and its top are. This was incredibly helpful when working on a puzzle that had only slight variations in color, pattern, and texture.

➕ The trays make it easy to pass collections of pieces to other people or move them to another part of the table.

➕ The stacking capability is useful. When it came time to take a break and use the table for working or eating, it was much easier to tidy up without wrecking our puzzle piece organization.

➕/➖ We liked how the trays were shaped like puzzle pieces and interconnected… but the fact that they only connected in a line felt wrong. Functionally, this was an inconsequential detail, but it felt like a missed opportunity.

Puzzle trays only sort of interlocking.

➕ 6 trays feels like enough for us. We don’t go nuts sorting and subdividing, and we don’t generally tackle jigsaw puzzles that exceed 1,000 pieces… because time. That said, if you need more, you can always buy an additional set.

Prices may be higher due to demand.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.