Ravensburger – The Toy Factory Escape Puzzle [Review]

Nightmare toys

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 14, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $42 (jigsaw puzzle prices are running high during the pandemic)

REA Reaction

If The Toy Factory Escape Puzzle were given a Dungeons & Dragons alignment, it would be chaotic evil… and I mean that in both its aesthetic design and its execution.

The Toy Factory box sitting on top of the solved puzzle.

The menacing image on the jigsaw puzzle was strangely refreshing. Jigsaw puzzle images, near as I can tell, are typically made to appeal to children or midwestern women in their 50s… and not a lot in the middle. The Toy Factory looked grimly playful, and it really pulled me into the assembly.

This puzzle also benefited from a much better edge design than the earlier batches of Ravensburger Escape Puzzles. Additionally the lower piece count made this a much lower commitment to assemble. (Whether that’s good or bad is a matter of personal preference.)

This is where my kind words end… because the only thing scarier than the picture were the puzzles contained within. The overwhelming majority of them were a disaster. These were the kinds of puzzles where you look at the hints and wish the designer were in the room so they could personally experience your utter disappointment in their choices.

It’s horrifying to think that this puzzle is being circulated on the shelves of mainstream toy stores. Ravensburger, y’all need a better puzzle designer. Call us. We could recommend literally dozens of people who could help you solve these problems.

Solve this one for the image and ignore the escape part… or experience it as a lesson in bad puzzle design.

Series Overview

This review only covers details specific to this individual Ravensburger Escape Puzzle.

For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Ravensburger Escape Puzzle Overview.

Of note, The Toy Factory had only 368 pieces. Most of the previous escape puzzles we’ve reviewed had 759 pieces.

Continue reading “Ravensburger – The Toy Factory Escape Puzzle [Review]”

Ravensburger – The Laboratory Escape Puzzle [Review]

Puzzle Hunt Jigsaw

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 9, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $44 (jigsaw puzzle prices are running high during the pandemic)

REA Reaction

The Laboratory may be the most interesting Ravensburger Escape Puzzle we’ve played to date.

The picture was fairly unremarkable, but reasonably fun to assemble. We greatly appreciated the improvements that Ravensburger has made to the edge design in the new batch of Escape Puzzles.

The Laboratory box sitting on top of the solved puzzle.

The interesting part of The Laboratory was the puzzles hidden within the image, which ranged from common to challenges that only a puzzle hunter would find reasonably solvable without lots of hints.

This product is easier than others in the line in terms of jigsaw puzzle assembly, and far more challenging in terms of puzzling. This isn’t necessarily a bad decision. I think it might increase the appeal for some in the puzzling community, but it will be jarring to anyone who isn’t experienced.

I enjoyed this one, but I cautiously recommend it… as some of those puzzles are doozies.

Series Overview

This review only covers details specific to this individual Ravensburger Escape Puzzle.

For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Ravensburger Escape Puzzle Overview.

Of note, The Laboratory had only 368 pieces. The previous escape puzzles we’ve reviewed had 759 pieces.

Continue reading “Ravensburger – The Laboratory Escape Puzzle [Review]”

Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle [Review]

Tell me Sarah, what do you think of my labyrinth?  

Location:  at home

Date Played:  May 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $25

Publisher:  Buffalo

REA Reaction

Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle was a challenging twist on a traditional jigsaw puzzle. It had “I Spy” elements that reminded me of The Magic Puzzle Company, though it seemed to have been produced much earlier (1997!). Given that every piece fit with any other, this puzzle was challenging, and demands your absolute focus.

Once you’ve completed the challenge of assembling the puzzle, it is up to you to escape from the maze you find yourself trapped in the center of.

If you’re a skilled jigsaw puzzler looking for a difficult jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t take up too much space, I recommend Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle. Solving it made me want to solve this puzzle’s sequel.

Closeup of Trapped in a Jigsaw assembled, it looks like a fantastical garden maze.

Who is this for?

  • Jigsaw puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Incredible attention to detail
  • It’s more than just a jigsaw
A pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces almost all of them have them same cuts.
Continue reading “Lost in a Jigsaw: The Diagonal Maze Puzzle [Review]”

Ravensburger – The Temple Grounds Escape Puzzle [Review]

Wandering through the jungle

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 2020

Team size: We recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $33 (as of review)

Publisher: Ravensburger

REA Reaction

Ravensburger’s The Temple Grounds Escape Puzzle hasn’t had an official release in the United States, but it is available on Amazon for a few dollars over retail price, and our copy was sent to us by Tammy McLeod, REA Hivemind Reviewer, and jigsaw puzzle Guinness World Record holder.

After spending a couple of days solving The Temple Grounds, I’d wager a guess as to why it hasn’t been republished in the United States: it’s a damn hard jigsaw puzzle. It’s the most difficult of the series thus far, in our opinion. It’s overwhelmingly green and brown, with low contrast.

Ravensburger Temple Grounds Escape puzzle box art.
The box art has much higher contrast than the actual puzzle. Was this a printing error?

Difficulty does not make this a bad jigsaw puzzle; it’s more than solvable. There are textures and patterns to work with… but they are harder to identify and more nuanced than what we’ve seen from the rest of the Escape Puzzle series.

The escape puzzles within the finished picture solved cleanly, although one of these puzzles really suffered from the dark shades of brown and muddy contrast.

The other struggle with this puzzle was the edge (which is always a bit strange in Escape Puzzles). There were edge pieces that we could not rationally fit into the puzzle. This was by far the weakest element of the product.

Overall, The Temple Grounds is the Ravensburger Escape Puzzles on hard mode. Don’t play this as an introduction to the Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle format. If you’re new to Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle series, try out the Space Observatory or Witch’s Kitchen for a fantastic starting place. The Temple Grounds is for skilled jigsaw puzzle solvers who like a puzzle that requires a higher level of skill or a willingness to grind through the challenge.

While I am happy that I solved it, I also think it’s fine if this one isn’t re-released more broadly.

Series Overview

This review only covers details specific to this individual Ravensburger Escape Puzzle.

For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Ravensburger Escape Puzzle Overview.

Story

While exploring the ruins of an ancient temple, we’d stepped in the wrong place and slipped down a steep slope into the ruins. With the sun going down, we needed to find our way out.

Skulls in a swamp-like environment.

Analysis

❓/➖ The puzzle art felt optimized around difficulty. There was a lot to look at, but it wasn’t fun to view. There was a ton of visual noise.

➕ The puzzles solved cleanly.

➖ While one low contrast puzzle was solvable, the details were so challenging to see that my fellow solvers struggled to see the key clues even when I was pointing right at them.

➖ There were edge pieces that seemed to have no real home within the puzzle. The Escape Puzzle’s edge pieces are an essential part of the concluding metapuzzle, so there is always a bit of oddness with these, but this took it to a far stranger place. It felt like the edge was doctored after the fact to make the puzzle work, but no one took the time to make any of the adjustments feel even remotely organic.

➖ The metapuzzle was cute, but nowhere near entertaining enough to justify how botched the puzzle’s edge design was. This also made it fairly easy to backsolve the puzzles within the picture. It was sloppy.

❓ This was a hard puzzle. Whether that’s good or bad is in the eyes of the solver.

An iguana looking at a puzzle.

➕ The hints were detailed and clear (even if a small, inconsequential segment wasn’t fully translated into English).

Buy It Now

Pickup your copy of Ravensburger’s The Temple Grounds Escape Puzzle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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The Magic Puzzle Company – The Sunny City [Review]

Sunny side up

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 6, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $20

REA Reaction

For our third adventure into The Magic Puzzle Company’s unusual jigsaw puzzles we assembled The Sunny City. This installment had a more muted, mature vibe without the overt playfulness of The Mystic Maze and The Happy Isles. This puzzle felt like it was designed with someone else in mind, and I say that not as judgment, but as a compliment.

Setting aside aesthetics, The Sunny City felt similar to The Happy Isles. Daunting at first glance, these puzzles were cleverly designed such that little details throughout the puzzle made these seemingly similar sections far more approachable than they’d initially appeared… and for me that continued to feel more magical than the actual magical transformations offered by these jigsaw puzzles.

Of the original three puzzles, while this one didn’t speak to me on an emotional level, I can easily imagine folks who would greatly prefer this over the others. Regardless of my sensibilities, I genuinely enjoyed puzzling through The Sunny City. I hope that we see more from The Magic Puzzle Company; I think they are onto something.

Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company – The Sunny City [Review]”