The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the British Museum [Review]

The game is a book.

Location:  at home

Release Date: March 2021

Date Played: April 2021

Team Size: we recommend 1

Duration: 2+ hours, depending on thoroughness

Price: $14.95

Publisher: Ammonite Press

REA Reaction

The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the British Museum is the second in a series of Holmesian branching-narrative puzzle books. With a loose, puzzle-filled story, it leads the reader through a second-person treasure hunt through the British Museum circa 1901.

The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the British Museum cover with code wheel.

I appreciated certain improvements over the first installment, most notably how the puzzles felt more connected to the story and setting. The museum location also added some fun historical details. However, The Adventure of the British Museum lacked the playful relationship with the reader that made The Adventure of the London Waterworks so delightful. Instead, it was a more straightforward puzzle-filled story without too many tricks or treats along the way.

Compared to the first book, the difficulty curve felt uneven, with no smooth on-ramp to introduce the gameplay. Also, The Adventure of the British Museum suffered from errors in several puzzles. Ultimately they weren’t game-breaking errors, but they signaled a need for more playtesting.

If you enjoyed The Adventure of the London Waterworks and want to check out another take on the same format, The Adventure of the British Museum offers an afternoon of puzzling entertainment. If you haven’t yet read The Adventure of the London Waterworks, that would be a better place to start.

Who is this for?

  • Sherlock Holmes fans
  • Gamebook aficionados
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • To take a virtual tour through the British Museum
  • Code wheels are fun

Story

I assumed the role of Sherlock Holmes as he investigated a mysterious letter that had led him and Watson to the British Museum. By following a series of puzzles through the museum’s exhibits, I attempted to thwart a villainous plot and escape unscathed.

The Adventure of the British Museum included abundant references to Sherlock Holmes lore, but reading without background knowledge wasn’t a problem.

An ilustration featuring Sherlock and Watson in front of the museum entrance.
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The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the London Waterworks [Review]

All great adventures begin by turning the first page…

Location:  at home

Release Date: June 2019

Date Played: April 2021

Team Size: we recommend 1

Duration: ~3 hours, depending on thoroughness

Price: $14.95

Publisher: Ammonite Press

REA Reaction

The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the London Waterworks is the first in a series of Holmesian branching-narrative puzzle books. Combining story and puzzles in roughly equal measure, it leads the reader through a second-person adventure of mystery, murder, and escape.

The Adventure of the London Waterworks read like a Choose Your Own Adventure book fortified with Professor Layton-style “everything’s a puzzle” gameplay. The story would be fairly simple without the puzzle layer, and vice versa. But in combination, the narrative structure served as a sturdy framework for puzzle delivery.

The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book: The Adventure of the London Waterworks cover with code wheel.

The solving covered many puzzle types, with frequent appearances of the Dancing Men cipher from the classic Sherlock Holmes story. The puzzle difficulty gradually increased from simple warmups to some genuinely challenging moments. Certain choices cleverly rewarded close scrutiny while deploying red herrings to discourage guessing or cheating.

From cover to cover, The Adventure of the London Waterworks provided several hours of entertainment, with details that rewarded multiple reads. You could enlist the help of your own Watson, but the book seems best suited for a solo puzzling experience, particularly because certain puzzles require close inspection.

Seasoned solvers may not find a hardcore challenge in The Adventure of the London Waterworks, but it’s a good amount of entertainment in a small package. If you’re a fan of interactive fiction books or Sherlock Holmes stories, this one is worth checking out.

Who is this for?

  • Sherlock Holmes fans
  • Gamebook aficionados
  • Puzzlers who enjoy a narrative foundation
  • Readers who enjoy a sprinkling of puzzles

Why play?

  • To get all the endings
  • To feel as smart as Sherlock Holmes
  • Red herrings done right

Story

Playing the role of consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, I followed a mysterious note to the London Waterworks with the trusty Dr. Watson. After infiltrating the pumping station, I made choices and solved puzzles in order to uncover and foil Moriarty’s mysterious plan.

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Escape Game Adventure: Trapped in Space [Book Review]

Erreurs dans l’espace

Location:  at home

Date Played: January 18 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-family

Duration: 15-60 minutes

Price: about $10

REA Reaction

Trapped in Space was a sloppy product that had lots of potential.

The Escape Game Adventure series originates in France, and the English version is a translation. Over the past few installments, there have been minor issues such as typos or odd phrasing, but it hasn’t presented any meaningful issues.

In this installment there were two translation/ localization issues that felt like critical failures:

  • A full puzzle that output its solution in French
  • A puzzle that rendered an image that likely won’t be clear to American children due to cultural nuance
Cover art for Escape Game Adventure Trapped in Space shows a damaged spaceship.

To top it all off, many of the puzzles in this Trapped in Space played a little too loosely with cluing for my liking.

I really like the Escape Game Adventure series, but I categorically cannot recommend Trapped in Space in its current form. Play literally any other book in this product line.

Story

We traveled with Dooz to the year 3144 to rescue a team of space explorers whose ship had been disabled after an attack by an alien species.

Illustration of a damaged spaceship seen from within the ship's bridge.

Analysis

The analysis in this section is about the content of Trapped in Space. To see our analysis of the structure, refer to our Escape Game Adventure Books overview.

Trapped in Space’s story was grand, fun, and the kind of storytelling that would have spoken to me as a child.

➕ The art in Trapped in Space was great. It captured the epic space opera vibe brilliantly.

➕ /➖ The puzzles were a mixed bag of fairly common puzzle types. While they all solved fine, there were a number of moments where it felt like the cluing was tenuous at best.

Dooze the robot pointing confidently, saying, "We'll be stronger together! Attack!"

➖ One puzzle was never translated into English. The surrounding text was in English, but the puzzle itself output a French solution. If you’re playing this with your kid… maybe teach them to count to 30 in French first?

➖ Another lesser, but still serious issue, was a puzzle that output a solution in a decidedly French form. In France, 7’s and Z’s are crossed, which is not common in the United States, and will likely make one puzzle needlessly confusing.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pencil, scissors

Buy your copy of Trapped in Space, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: we received a media sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy 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.

Escape Game Adventure: Operation Pizza [Book Review]

The Pizza Plot

Location:  at home

Date Played: January 18 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-family

Duration: 15-60 minutes

Price: about $10

REA Reaction

With Operation Pizza, Escape Game Adventure genuinely surprised us. This kids’ puzzle book felt noticeably more advanced when compared to the other installments in the series… and the plot was a bit more grounded.

All of that is to say that this book spoke to me. Escape Game Adventure books generally speak to my inner child… which is cool… that’s the true audience.

Cover art for Escape Game Adventure Operation Pizza shows Dooze in a chef's cap holding a fresh pizza.

This was the most challenging book in this series thus far. That doesn’t make it hard relative to other tabletop puzzle games, but in the kids category, it certainly stood out in terms of complexity. I’d recommend children start with The Mad Hacker or The Last Dragon and work their way up to this one.

Story

We’d traveled to Naples, Italy in 1889 with our robot companion Dooz to save the creator of the margherita pizza from being poisoned by a jealous rival.

I think we can all agree that there are few people in history as important as the originator of the margherita pizza. We had to stop this evil plot.

Dooze standing beside an outdoor dining table.

Analysis

The analysis in this section is about the content of Operation Pizza. To see our analysis of the structure, refer to our Escape Game Adventure Books overview.

➕ The story told in Operation Pizza was quite clever, and a little more understated that the rest of the Escape Game Adventures series. I do mean that as a compliment; it appealed to me, and not just to my inner child.

➕ There was a lot to Operation Pizza. It felt more like an escape room than the previous books in the series. It demanded a general awareness beyond what was specifically in front of us.

Illustration of a locked Italian restaurant.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pencil, scissors

Buy your copy of Operation Pizza, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: we received a media sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy 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.

How to Start and Operate an Escape Room Business – Aleksei Kniazev [Book Review]

The quests to build quests

Author:  Aleksei Kniazev

Year:  2020

Page Count: 98

Price: $25 eBook and $39 paperback

REA Reaction

Overall this book was good in concept, but rough in delivery.

How to Start and Operate an Escape Room Business contained a lot of high-level information for someone new to the industry. A person considering starting their own escape room business would do well to read a broad overview such as this. There is a niche for this kind of text to fill.

However, in its current state, the issues with the writing style may be too much for many readers to ignore.

The book described financials and a business plan with real, but possibly optimistic, numbers. It assumed a tone of economic certainty that might not exist in a post-COVID-19 environment (although the author did acknowledge this).

This book would be for someone who seeks a conversation with an experienced owner, rather than someone looking for a textbook. You’ll get the most out of this book if you can think critically about someone else’s experiences, and how to apply these back to your own business in 2020 (or whenever you read the book).

Black & gold cover for How to Start and Operation an Escape Room Business

Who is this for?

How to Start and Operate an Escape Room Business was written as an introduction to the business of escape rooms. It contained some solid information and covered a lot of ground for those curious about entering the industry. Real-world lessons were explained by an owner with several years worth of experiences, both good and bad.

Structure

The book followed a somewhat linear path of business development. Topics covered included everything from selecting a location and hiring a team through testing games, advertising, and running the business. Entire books could be written on each of the subjects briefly discussed in this guide. This was a shallow overview of one person’s experience rather than a definitive authority on every aspect. The book was less ‘how exactly to open an escape room business’ and more of a reality check for those thinking about it. In fact, I thought the In Summary questions were a good place to start for curious beginners.

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