CU Adventures in Time & Space – Calling All Villains [Review]

“A lot of guys ignore the laugh”

If you enjoy Calling All Villains, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Anne & Chris Lukeman on The Reality Escape Pod.

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player for 4 players, $25 per player for 5+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: a step up for at least 1 player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Originally designed as a pop-up, Calling All Villains was a visually compelling experiment in escape room design.

Calling All Villains took many risks, and for the most part, they really paid off. The opening scene felt like a Burning Man-esque warehouse installation, absolutely packed with interactive art in a plethora of colors, textures, and materials. 3-4 distinct chunks of gameplay featured a wide range of puzzle and interaction styles. There was a ton to work on in each stage of the game, making this an excellent option for somewhat larger teams. The gameplay was layered and utilized the physical space in some rather creative ways.

Calling All Villains flowed well overall, but compared to CU Adventures’ other offerings, it was a bit uneven. As much as I enjoyed the majority of the set and gameplay, one intermediate space was a noticeable drop in production value and polish, though I appreciated its intended narrative function. Whereas Game Night, which also originated as a pop-up, managed to coalesce into cohesive permanent experience, more elements in Calling All Villains still felt a bit more ephemeral. I’d love to see how the highlights, aesthetic, and ambitions of this game translate into a more permanent future experience.

An old beat up and broken down van beside a robot.
via CU Adventures

Some of my favorite moments at CU Adventures took place in Calling All Villains. While Game Night and Revenge of the Cabin were our overall favorites, I also highly recommend playing Calling All Villains if you have the time.

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CU Adventures in Time & Space – The Wizard’s Curse [Review]

We’re off to see the wizard…

If you enjoy The Wizard’s Curse, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Anne & Chris Lukeman on The Reality Escape Pod.

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player for 2 players, $30 per player for 3-4 players, $25 per player for 5-6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: stairs for at least 1 player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Wizard’s Curse was clever, compact, and thoroughly charming. The smallest of CU Adventures’ current offerings, it was best suited for smaller teams, but had no shortage of delightful interactions.

CU Adventures has a talent for putting original twists on common themes, in both their in-person and virtual/ tabletop games. In The Wizard’s Curse, we encountered a familiar story: we had to find a way to defeat the evil wizard who’d cast a spell over our kingdom. Even if this story was nothing new, the room’s polished puzzling, multi-level set, and fun characters made this a memorable experience.

A wizard's study with books and trinkets.
via CU Adventures

If you’re choosing amongst the rooms at CU Adventures, you can’t really go wrong. Especially for small teams, newer players, and magic lovers, I recommend playing The Wizard’s Curse.

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CU Adventures in Time & Space – Revenge of the Cabin [Review]

Quaint abandoned property. Sold.

If you enjoy Revenge of the Cabin, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Anne & Chris Lukeman on The Reality Escape Pod.

Location: Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25-35 per player depending on group size

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: At least one player will have to climb a few stairs and crawl a short distance.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

CU Adventure in Time & Space’s Revenge of the Cabin was a joyful – albeit creepy – experience filled to the brim with character. The game was oozing intricate details. It offered excellent flow, consistent fun, and well-designed puzzles. Our team never had a lack of tasks to do or objects to examine, keeping the game flow consistent and the energy high.

Revenge of the Cabin was flooded with personal touches for each of the players, which added a bit of customized flair to both the gameplay and the puzzles. CU Adventures did a fantastic job leaning into the horror genre without being overly scary. Their use of spooky elements without the cheap scares brought a creative and particularly fun take on a fairly common escape room theme. With the exception of one section requiring more light than was provided, the game otherwise kept our five-player team busy for the full hour.

A necronomicon sitting on a demonic alter.
via CU Adventures

CU Adventures has seriously stepped up the game for Illinois, and across the board, their games were works of art. These are worth the road trip to check out if you’re ever in Chicago, no question.

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CU Adventures in Time & Space – Game Night [Review]

Roll for initiative

If you enjoy Game Night, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Anne & Chris Lukeman on The Reality Escape Pod.

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25-35 per player depending on group size

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Game Night was a fantastically unique Dungeons & Dragons adventure lovingly brought to life, full of nostalgia and delightful moments. With the help of an energetic in-game “dungeon master” (gamemaster), our experience was hilarious and whimsical from before the game even began. 

Escape rooms usually stick to 1-2 styles of gameplay and ride that out for a full 60-minute experience. In Game Night, CU Adventures was able to incorporate an homage to unique and vastly different styles of escape room design, curating gameplay for all types of players. Each section of the game was a varied “type” of escape room, whether it be interactive and fast paced, split team, or inclusive of immersive character interactions. CU Adventures brilliantly designed each portion for the overall storyline to flow seamlessly while also tailoring to different player archetypes. They wrapped all this into one coherent experience. 

Closeup of a dragon's head.
via CU Adventures

Even without having a background knowledge of tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), this game can be an absolute blast for every adventurer. CU Adventures is spinning up some incredibly unique and exciting experiences, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the future.

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CU Adventures – Solve Our Shirts: Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove [Review]

Solve our Shirts: Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove is included in our recommendation guide for 2-Player Online Escape Games. For more of the best online escape games in this style, check out the recommendation guide.

I’ll take a laaarrrge shirt, matey.

Location: at home

Date Played: December 25, 2021

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2

Duration: 60-90 minutes

Price: $45-$50 for a single shirt, $80-$90 for a couples pack

REA Reaction

We were big fans of the first Solve Our Shirts game, Escape from the Maze of the Minotaur… so we had XXL expectations coming into their latest game, Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove.

I can safely report that Solve Our Shirts managed to take what was great about their first game and improve upon it… and they managed to do this without treading the same ground. It’s remarkable how many surprises can be hidden in a damn t-shirt. It feels like magic.

Close up of the Treasure Trove of Pirate Cover t-shirt, depicts a shipwreck beside an island with a skull cave.
Image via Solve Our Shirts

Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove wasn’t a perfect game. The first puzzle was a bit of a steep on-ramp and I really wish that there was one clear puzzle on the front of the shirt that a friend could solve while we’re sitting in a restaurant, so that when they ask about the shirt, you can explain that “it’s a puzzle shirt, and here’s a simple one for you.”

I’ll also add that I think that the aesthetics of this Solve Our Shirts’ shirt are greatly improved… and while I probably won’t wear it out… because I’m a New Yorker at heart and sea green is waaaayyyyy too far from black for my comfort… I’m flirting with the idea of wearing this one, just to see what it feels like to wear this color. Your mileage may vary.

Overall, Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove is a stellar tabletop escape game product. CU Adventures comfortably ranks among the top creators in the field. If you’re even passingly interested in play-at-home puzzle games, this is one to buy.

I cannot wait to see what they think of next.

Series Overview

This review only covers details specific to this individual game from Solve Our Shirts.

For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Solve Our Shirts Overview.

Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove differs from the overview in three key ways:

  • There are no women’s cut shirts.
  • This product doesn’t have the easy mode pamphlet.
  • There isn’t a deluxe option.
A woman in a brown leather coat opening it up and revealing the Pirate Cove t-shirt.
Image via Solve Our Shirts
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