Colby’s Curious Cookoff is an online puzzle hunt created by Boxaroo in Boston, MA.
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.
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.
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.
Who is this for?
Players with at least some experience
Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
Challenging and interesting puzzles
A great late-game reveal sequence
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.
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.
Boxaroo’s Conundrum Museum was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.
+ 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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.