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]”

The Magic Puzzle Company – The Happy Isles [Review]

Let’s make some happy little islands.

Location:  at home

Date Played: January 9, 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $20

REA Reaction

The Happy Isles was a work of sublime genius.

In addition to all of the things that The Magic Puzzle company has done right, they achieved something extra in The Happy Isles. The art was intimidating from a jigsaw puzzling standpoint, but the way it was drawn made it feel subtly solvable. Little details gave away so much information. It was brilliant.

Box art for The Magic Puzzle Company's The Happy Isles 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

I highly recommend The Happy Isles. That said, I’d encourage you to solve The Mystic Maze first. They do similarly brilliant things, but I feel confident that The Mystic Maze is the stronger starting place.

When you’re finished with The Mystic Maze, have The Happy Isles waiting for you. Solve them both. They’re great.

Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company – The Happy Isles [Review]”

The Magic Puzzle Company – The Mystic Maze [Review]

A child-like imagination is best imagination.

Location:  at home

Date Played: December 25, 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $20

REA Reaction

I’m having a hard time remembering a jigsaw puzzle that I enjoyed more than The Mystic Maze. There’s no snark in these words, I genuinely love jigsaw puzzles.

Box art for The Magic Puzzle Company's The Mystic Maze 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

1,000 pieces can sometimes feel like a slog, and in this instance, that was never the case. The level of detail and variety in The Mystic Maze kept every moment of this puzzling experience fresh from beginning to end… and then again to its second ending.

What I loved most here wasn’t the undeniably high quality of the components or even the magical twist (which was cool); it was the character of this puzzle. I loved the imaginative child that populated each frame with impossible worlds of triumph, excitement, fear, and loss. For me, the best jigsaw puzzles present a highly detailed, emotionally impactful image, and then allow you to experience that world one bit at a time. It’s a special way to take in art, and that was the true magic of The Mystic Maze.

Puzzle closeup of the Mystic Maze
Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company – The Mystic Maze [Review]”