Boxaroo – Colby’s Curious Cookoff [Hivemind Review]

Colby’s Curious Cookoff is included in our recommendation guide for Play On-Demand Online Escape Games. For more of the best online escape games in this style, check out the recommendation guide.

Colby’s Curious Cookoff is an online puzzle hunt created by Boxaroo in Boston, MA.

Illustration of Colby in a kitchen.

Format

Style of Play: moderate-length, beginner-friendly puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: There is no time limit. An experienced puzzle hunt solver can do this in hours. Less experienced players will take a few days. One reviewer writes “quite a few days of leisurely working on this” and another writes “FOR.EV.ER. (insert Sandlot voice here).”

Price: It’s “pay what you want” but $25 is recommended

Booking: Upon registering for an account and purchasing the puzzle hunt, you can start right away.

Description

Colby’s Curious Cookoff is a puzzle hunt. You solve several multiple-step puzzles at various difficulty levels. You always get a word or a phrase as an answer. For each section, you’ll need all the solutions to solve a metapuzzle and at the very end, you solve a metametapuzzle.

Hivemind Review Scale

Boxaroo – The Storyteller’s Secret [Review]

Update November 17, 2022: If you want to hear more about The Storyteller’s Secret, back us on Patreon at the “Search Win!” level to get access to a Spoiler’s Club Episode about this game. Reality Escape Pod co-hosts David and Peih-Gee talk all about it with the creator, spoilers and all. Additionally we had some interesting conversation about why the reuse in Storyteller’s Secret was so satisfying.

The Storyteller’s Secret is one of the best games in Boston. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Boston.

Once upon a puzzle…

Location:  Boston, MA

Date Played: December 14, 2019

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

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: $40-47 per player

Ticketing:  Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Intimate, mellow, and heartwarming. This combination is one of the least explored territories in the escape game world. Boxaroo set off on an adventure to chart this mysterious land and struck gold.

The set was elegant, compact, and truly impressive, especially when you realize just how small it actually was.

Boxaroo’s engineering was top-notch.

In-game: A beautiful old writer's desk with a journal and a quill pen.

Then there’s the gameplay. A friend said to me that The Storyteller’s Secret felt kind of like playing a really good point and click adventure game; I can confirm that. The way this experience unfolded honestly felt like playing a tangible Lucas Arts game. If you have ever played one, I think you’ll realize how high a compliment that is.

We loved this game. It’s as great a game for first time players as it is for seasoned escape room fanatics. If you’re anywhere near Boston, The Storyteller’s Secret is a must-play escape game.

In-game: Closeup of a pully against some vegitation.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Families
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The game was beautifully executed on every level
  • Playful and heartwarming story
  • An incredible feat of engineering
  • It almost feels like playing an old Lucas Arts game in real life

Story

We paid a visit to the cabin of best-selling adventure novelist Emily Carter to learn the secret origins of her incredible stories.

In-game: the wooden wall of a cabin with small shalves and hooks displaying many different trinkets.

Setting

We entered a quaint and elegant writer’s nook. On one side was an adorable desk; on the other side were massive, larger-than-life books. From there, our adventure was entirely up to the storytelling of Emily Carter.

The set was beautiful and playful, filled with vivid details. The technology underpinning The Storyteller’s Secret was ingenious and ever-present, but never showy.

In-game: A corner bench seat with a pillow that reads, "Bee my honey" depicting two bees.

Gameplay

Boxaroo’s The Storyteller’s Secret was a narrative-focused escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, puzzling, and making connections.

In-game: Closeup of a fish caught ina net.

Analysis

âž• The Storyteller’s Secret told a complete story. It was beautiful and intimate. It didn’t put a lot of pressure on us. This was a mellow experience, but not without exciting moments.

âž• This was a game about a writer. It managed to pull that off with fewer than 2 lines of written text.

âž– The opening moments of The Storyteller’s Secret had a potentially cool interaction that went nowhere. It felt like opportunity was knocking and no one answered.

âž• Boxaroo created a wonderful difficulty curve. They focused player attention on relevant content through use of light and sound. They’d designed the game such that as it progressed, we felt like we had grown our skills and achieved mastery over the game’s challenges.

In-game: A wall mounting with two tribal masks hanging.

âž• This game represented our view of what escape room technology ought to be. The engineering was incredible, but most would rarely even notice it. It was just magic.

âž• The hint system was an integrated part of the experience. We never touched it, but we imagine it blending into the story.

âž–/âž• The physical construction of the final puzzle was noticeably lackluster. The puzzle itself was quite clever in context, but I’m completely confident that Boxaroo could implement it better because they did so everywhere else in this game.

âž• The Storyteller’s Secret had smart backtracking and reuse.

âž• Boxaroo only allows appropriately sized teams into this game. What a bizarre and novel concept?

Tips For Visiting

  • Boxaroo is easily accessible by subway. Get off at Park Street or Government Center.
  • If you’re driving, the Pi Alley Parking Garage is right nearby.
  • At least 1 teammate needs to be able to duck into a small space.

Book your hour with Boxaroo’s The Storyteller’s Secret, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Boxaroo provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Boxaroo – Conundrum Museum [Review]

Conundrum Museum is one of the best games in Boston. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Boston.

The best security in escape rooms!

Location: Boston, MA

Date Played: July 1, 2018

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Boxaroo is back in business after a long hiatus. Conundrum Museum was a puzzle-driven escape room that one of our teammates described over drinks as, “the most challenging escape room that I’ve ever played.” This was a difficult escape room in an elegant, but not particularly exciting, environment.

If you’re in escape rooms for the puzzles, Conundrum Museum is top-notch and worth playing if you’re anywhere nearby.

In-game: An art gallery with three framed Jackson Pollak-like non-objective paintings behind a red velvet rope.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Good opening
  • Challenging and interesting puzzles
  • A great late-game reveal sequence

Story

We were framed! We had been visiting a renowned art museum when a number of pieces went missing. Thankfully the police response time left us an opportunity to unravel the mystery before we could be arrested.

In-game: an art gallery with a very large wooden crate in the middle.

Setting

Conundrum Museum was an art gallery escape room with the white walls and assortment of art displays-turned-puzzles that we’ve come to expect of the genre.

The aesthetic twist: Boxaroo added a massive and intriguing crate in the middle of the room, along with a number of hidden interactions and technology.

In-game: closeup of two crates, one labeled, "Universal Shipping and Crating," the other, "Handle with care."

Gameplay

Boxaroo’s Conundrum Museum was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

+ Conundrum Museum had a strong opening sequence that established the story.

+ One set piece grabbed our attention from the early moments. Late game, it delivered on built up intrigue.

– Conundrum Museum started off slowly. Although the majority of the gameplay was nonlinear, there was only one starting puzzle. It would be easy to flail around for a while before figuring out how to start in on anything.

+ Boxaroo designed a variety of puzzles, many of which required or benefitted from teamwork. This dynamic was the heart of Conundrum Museum.

+ At its best, Conundrum Museum brought about fantastic aha moments where it felt like the lights suddenly turned on and everything suddenly made sense.

– One puzzle felt a bit too dense. We took multiple hints on this puzzle, each hint confusing us more.

+ While Conundrum Museum included a lot of locks, it was generally clear where to input any derived code.

+ Our team enjoyed – and I loved – the inventive meta puzzle. It has forever secured a place in my heart.

? While not a problem for us, one significant sequence of Conundrum Museum required above-average command of English. There was a mechanism by which people could learn the necessary words… but if one were resorting to it, then they probably wouldn’t enjoy it all that much.

– Conundrum Museum was emotionally level. The grand reveals and more intriguing moments struggled to get our hearts pumping because we were still in a white-walled, calm, environment.

+ Our gamemaster was a character in our story. Even when we experienced some technical difficulties at the start of our game, our gamemaster remained in character and improvised. Boxaroo handled the technical troubles as gracefully as possible.

? Conundrum Museum was puzzle-driven adventure. It was not epic or overly dramatic, but it was a cerebrally satisfying team experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Boxaroo is easily accessible by subway. Get off at Park Street or Government Center.
  • If you’re driving, the Pi Alley Parking Garage is right nearby.
  • At least 1 teammate needs to be able to crawl a short distance.

Book your hour with Boxaroo’s Conundrum Museum, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Boxaroo provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Boxaroo – Mystery of the Magician’s Study [Review]

Mystery of the Magician’s Study is one of the best games in Boston. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Boston.

Update March 2022: Boxaroo has rebuilt and upgraded Mystery of the Magician’s Study significantly since the time of the review. While the game structure and most puzzles stay the same, a handful of puzzles and interactions were added. Additionally, the set now contains spotlighting for hard-to-see places eliminating the need for flashlights. Overall, Mystery of the Magician’s Study still contains the magic and wonder of the original build, with a tighter overall gameplay, further elevated set dressings, and clearer audio recordings.

“The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.”
– Alfred Borden, The Prestige

Location: Boston, MA

Date played: August 28, 2016

Team size: up to 9; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

2016 RoomEscapeArtist.com Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Story & setting

From the minute we entered the magician’s study, we were transported into a magical realm. Thematically, it was an office space with a heavy wooden desk and wall-to-wall bookshelf. But in profound ways, this wasn’t your ordinary office.

We had limited time to discover the secret of this mystical place.

A dimly lit room with red walls. A typewriter sits in the foreground, dramtically lit. A bid cage hangs in the background illuminated by a series of wall-mounted candles.

Puzzles

In Mystery of the Magician’s Study, Boxaroo turned the standard bag of tricks inside out. They started with common escape room puzzles and delivered surprises; many designed to trick experienced players… and fool us they did.

This performance had no fluff. Every puzzle led us closer to the secret. Every puzzle mattered. Almost every puzzle fit neatly into the stage.

Standouts

As the story unraveled, Mystery of the Magician’s Study escalated. Boxaroo cleverly added drama where before there had been nothing. This design led to more than one wow moment.

The magic of this game was well concealed, as magic should be.

Boxaroo used legitimate stage magic practices throughout their game.

Shortcomings

One section of the game felt like a throw-away. It was unpolished, out of place, and boring.

A lot of the story was told through voice-overs that were difficult to understand. This made it challenging to follow the story. After the dramatic conclusion, we had to piece the story back together rather than feeling it as an integral part of the game.

Should I play Boxaroo’s The Magician’s Study?

The Magician’s Study is a must-play.

The standard puzzle types made it approachable for new players. Yet Boxaroo manipulated the space such that it tampered with the expectations of our experienced players. This escape room offered a fun and exciting challenge to both audiences.

Note that the ambiance included dim lighting and Boxaroo provides flashlights for all players.

Upon completion of the game, Boxaroo provided us with a stat sheet. It outlined the flow of the game and measured our progress against the average team. It’s rare to see a company keeping such detailed statistics.

Finally, this game was set inside in a massive bank vault in the basement of a downtown Boston office building. Mystery of the Magician’s Study had nothing to do with the bank vault apart from it providing a dramatic entrance to the game. I had to laugh because most companies would kill for a space like this to tell a heist story. Boxaroo chose to ignore the gigantic metal door and instead tell a different story. It was a bold decision that certainly worked.

Book your hour with Boxaroo’s Mystery of the Magician’s Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Boxaroo provided media discounted tickets for this game.