Ravensburger – The Curse of the Wolves Escape Puzzle [Review]

Three Wolf Moon Puzzle

Location:  at home

Date Played: March 2020

Team size: We recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $25

Publisher: Ravensburger

REA Reaction

With its nature scene in shades of blues, teals, and greens, The Curse of the Wolves was a beautiful jigsaw puzzle with the most innovative and advanced collection of escape puzzles that we’ve seen in a US-released Ravensburger Escape Puzzle to date.

Ravensburger's The Curse of the Wolves Escape Puzzle box art depicting a pack of wolves in the moonlight.

While this puzzle was given the same difficulty rating as Forbidden Basement, it was substantially more challenging than the other puzzles in the Escape Puzzle series. It wasn’t even close. The Curse of the Wolves was a harder jigsaw puzzle. It was also more difficult to find the escape puzzles with the puzzle, and a few of them were considerably harder to solve than in previous installments of the Escape Puzzle series. That’s not a knock against it. We enjoyed the elevated challenge… but it would have been nice if it were labeled appropriately.

Our biggest knock against this product was a stretch of the top edge that was nearly impossible to solve 100% correctly (because all edge pieces interconnect) that we got it approximately correct and stopped caring. There was far too much visual noise in this segment.

Overall, The Curse of the Wolves took a lot more time and effort to solve than previous Escape Puzzles. We welcomed that challenge. We highly recommend it if you’re already comfortable with and enjoy Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle format. If you’re new to Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle series, please don’t start here. Try out the Space Observatory for a fantastic starting place.

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.

Portion of the puzzle - a closeup of two wolves.

Story

Lost in the woods and encircled by cursed wolves, with meal time rapidly approaching, could we break their spell?

Portion of the puzzle - a closeup of of the cresent moon in the night's sky.

Analysis

➕ The puzzle art was beautiful. We loved the colors. It was a lovely image to construct as a jigsaw.

➕ This puzzle hid the escape puzzles in the jigsaw puzzle far better than any of the previous Escape Puzzles that we’ve reviewed. We really had to study the image to solve this puzzle.

➖ Ravensburger’s difficulty rating doesn’t appear to have meaning. The company rates both The Curse of the Wolves and Forbidden Basement as “level 3” in difficulty. However, The Curse of the Wolves was far more challenging.

➖ A portion of the top edge was so visually noisy that we found it impossible to solve correctly. Because every edge piece fits into every other edge piece, solvers must rely on visual cues alone. We knew that we had mistakes in that stretch of pieces. While this didn’t impact our solving of the escape puzzles, it did impact our satisfaction with the jigsaw portion.

➕ Ravensburger created some innovative escape puzzles. One favorite especially caught our eye; another favorite took us in a new direction.

➖A few of the puzzles required logic leaps. Although with enough trial and error we always landed at the solution, these puzzles would have been more satisfying with additional clue structure.

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

Portion of the puzzle - a closeup of a wolf emerging from a cave.

➕/➖ The meta puzzle was satisfying from a narrative perspective. That said, it was too easy to recognize too early on. We fully solved it about 25% into the assembly of the jigsaw.

The Curse of the Wolves Escape Puzzle was too easy to backsolve. Because of the way the escape puzzles build into a meta puzzle, this compounded on itself. The more we solved, the more we could backsolve.

The Curse of the Wolves Escape Puzzle relied more heavily on color than some of the other puzzles in the series. If you suffer from colorblindness, this puzzle will be especially challenging.

Buy It Now

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

Disclosure: Ravensburger provided a sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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

Ravensburger – Forbidden Basement Escape Puzzle [Review]

Rich uncle’s last puzzle & testament

Location:  at home

Date Played: March 2020

Team size: We recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $25

Publisher: Ravensburger

REA Reaction

Forbidden Basement Escape Puzzle may be the most escape room-y of Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle series.

For this jigsaw puzzle-based experience, Ravensburger took a classic escape room setup, and put their own visual twist on the concept.

Ravensburger's Forbidden Basement Escape Puzzle box art depicting a ransacked basement filled with strange items.

This was an approachable, fun, and fast-solving jigsaw puzzle. There were lots of colors and overt textures that we could sink our teeth into.

The escape puzzles within the jigsaw puzzle were creative, but mostly straightforward.

We wished that the visual underpinning the meta-puzzle solve was a little sharper. It was a cool idea, but it looked kind of blurry.

All in all, if you’re a fan of jigsaw puzzles and want a little more of an escape room twist, we recommend Forbidden Basement Escape Puzzle. It worked well, solved cleanly, and while it offered up some challenge, it never once stymied us. We enjoyed the momentum.

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.

Portion of the puzzle - a closeup of a human skeleton with red glowing eyes and a fedora.

Story

A distant uncle passed away and left us access to his estate. If we could find his fortune it would be ours to keep.

Portion of the puzzle - a closeup of of a mouse sitting atop a bag of spilled sugar.

Analysis

➕ The art was quirky and playful. There were a lot of strange things to look at while building this puzzle. The image had depth and texture, which added momentum to the jigsaw solving.

➖ While the image worked well for puzzling, it wasn’t captivating as an image to piece together.

➕/➖ Once we’d completed the jigsaw, it was straightforward to locate and work through the escape puzzles. They solved cleanly… with one exception:

Portion of the puzzle - a closeup of a set of jars with red and blue shapes as labels.
That blue one in the center. Is that an oval or a rectangle? The answer: Rectangle.

➕ The escape puzzles took inspiration from escape room gameplay. While grounded in familiar concepts, they were varied, interesting solves.

➖ The meta-puzzle solve was conceptually cool, but the visual was far too blurry. We knew what we were looking at, but it didn’t look right. It was a less satisfying culmination of the Ravensburger Escape Puzzle experience.

❓With Ravensburger Escape Puzzles, it’s generally recommended to solve the edge later. You can read more about the oddities of the edges in our Escape Puzzle Overview. In Forbidden Basement Escape Puzzle, you can choose to solve the edge first, like you would most puzzles, and you won’t be hopelessly lost.

Buy It Now

Purchase your copy of Ravensburger’s Forbidden Basement Escape Puzzle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Ravensburger provided a sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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

Crossword Jigsaw Puzzle [Review]

Crossword Puzzle Puzzle

Location:  at home

Date Played: June 30, 2019

Team size: we recommend 3-5

Size: 550-piece jigsaw

Price: $18

Publisher: Babalu Inc

REA Reaction

The Crossword Jigsaw Puzzle was exactly what the name suggests: a jigsaw puzzle made from a crossword grid. It played out in two distinct phases:

  • Solve the crossword puzzle
  • Assemble the jigsaw puzzle using the crossword puzzle as a guide

As a crossword, it was solid and approachable. It wasn’t too easy or particularly difficult; there wasn’t anything wrong with it.

Loose jigsaw pieces surrounding a paper crossword puzzles.
Image by Ryan Byrne.

As far as 550-piece jigsaw puzzles go, it was quite challenging. A black and white letter grid was certainly solvable, but it didn’t provide any of the color, size, and texture clues that are typically helpful in jigsaw puzzling. It also wasn’t much to look at.

The Crossword Jigsaw Puzzle was puzzling for sport. I would never break this out with my family after a holiday dinner. With a small group of dedicated puzzle people, however, we had a remarkably fun time pushing one another and inventing different techniques to increase our effectiveness.

Play this if you love puzzles for their own sake. Make sure you have the right people at the table. There is a second Crossword Jigsaw Puzzle sitting on our shelf and we will solve it.

Who is this for?

  • Crossword & jigsaw puzzlers
  • Best for groups
  • You have to love puzzles

Why play?

  • The intrigue of a mash-up of two familiar puzzle types
  • Solving works best as a group

Setup

First solve the crossword puzzle. Then you’ll have the “picture” for the jigsaw puzzle.

Jigsaw pieces scattered around a crossword puzzle.
Image by Ryan Byrne.

Gameplay

Crossword Jigsaw was a mash-up of two puzzle types: crosswords and jigsaws. Both were standard. In combination, however, Crossword Jigsaw had a high level of difficulty.

We found that this was best experienced with a group to facilitate the piece searching and keep the pace up.

Closeup of loose jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Image by Ryan Byrne.

Analysis

➕ Crossword Jigsaw combined two common puzzle types to create a puzzle that looked and felt familiar, but exhibited unique challenges.

➕ It’s rare to find a jigsaw puzzle that can actively engage 6 people. While we found it worked best as a group of 3-4 people, when we opened the box, 6 people actively participated… until dinner was ready.

A pile of jigsaw pieces beside a crossword puzzle.
Image by Ryan Byrne.

➖ Crossword Jigsaw was not approachable. We knew to start by solving the crossword puzzle and the frame of the jigsaw. Beyond that, it took some trial and error to find a technique for forward momentum.

➖ A large part of the experience was trial and error. We could narrow down by the letter on the piece or the shape of the piece, but solving was less strategic than in most jigsaw puzzles that we’ve solved to date.

➕ We played Crossword Jigsaw with friends. Jigsaw puzzles are individual experiences. Even when you solve them with friends, each person works largely independently on different sections of the whole. Crossword Jigsaw worked better as a group communication game to find the right pieces and assemble the puzzle.

❓ The image is a crossword puzzle, and not a particularly attractive or interesting one. If you’re doing this, it’s purely for love of puzzles.

Tips For Player

  • The finished jigsaw puzzle measures 24” by 18.”
  • The jigsaw has 550 pieces.
  • The same crossword can be downloaded so that the puzzle can be shared with someone else and they can enjoy the same level of challenge.
  • We recommend group solving this one.

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

Disclosure: Babalu Inc provided a sample for review. 

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale. We appreciate the support.)

Ravensburger – Vampire’s Castle Escape Puzzle [Review]

That last bite sucks…

Location:  at home

Team size: We recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: $25

Publisher: Ravensburger

REA Reaction

We really wanted to love this puzzle. From a jigsaw puzzle standpoint, this was comfortably our favorite of the 4 Ravensburger Escape Puzzles.

Unfortunately, once we’d assembled the jigsaw puzzle, the “escape room” puzzles were a mess. There were multiple broken or ambiguous puzzles. While it all came together well enough in the end, the mistakes were too numerous and inexcusable for us to recommend this product.

A portion of the puzzle including a few suites of armor.

Pretty much all of the issues could be fixed in a future printing, if Ravensburger gets around to it. I hope that they do.

In the mean time, I’d recommend passing on this one unless you’re keen on doing the jigsaw or you’ve played Space Observatory, Witch’s Kitchen, and Submarine and want to complete the set.

Series Overview

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

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

Closeup of Dracula emerging from his coffin.

Story

While vacationing in Romania, we’d decided to take a hike. Along the way we’d found an old castle; we couldn’t turn down the adventure. As we entered the castle, the door had locked behind us. We slowly realized that we weren’t alone. What could we do to survive?

A portion of the puzzle including vampire bats.

Analysis

➕ From a purely jigsaw puzzle standpoint, Vampire’s Castle was our favorite of Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzles. The image was vibrant, with a lot of color and texture variation. The design kept our momentum going from start to finish.

➕ The puzzle was filled with all sorts of cute oddities and amusing details.

The Vampires Castle Escape puzzle box.

➖ Too many of the puzzles within the puzzle were problematic. A third of the puzzles worked well. A third of the puzzles were too ambiguous for my liking… and a third of them were a total mess.

➖ There was a counting puzzle that was far too fuzzy.

➖ The puzzles that didn’t work properly were baffling, I’m really confused as to how they went to print.

➕ The final puzzle was satisfying.

Buy It Now

Buy your copy of Ravensburger’s Vampire’s Castle Escape Puzzles, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Ravensburger provided a sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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

Ravensburger – Submarine Escape Puzzle [Review]

Puzzle shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Location:  at home

Team size: We recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: $25

Publisher: Ravensburger

REA Reaction

With a vibrant look, Submarine stood out aesthetically among the first wave of Ravensburger Escape Puzzles.

From a puzzle solving standpoint, this installment pretty much nailed it… except for one noteworthy issue: a puzzle that didn’t quite resolve correctly. While this didn’t break the game, if this were your first attempt at an Escape Puzzle, it would be a harsh and confounding ending.

If you’ve already enjoyed an Escape Puzzles or 2, Submarine would be fantastic. Just watch out for a bit of confusion near the conclusion and you’ll have a good time.

An assortment of unconnected jigsaw puzzle pieces.

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 wandering the harbor in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we’d happened upon an old man and his submarine. He’d previously used the boat to explore wrecks, but he’d grown too old for sea adventures and had offered the sub to us. We’d accepted and he explained its inner workings to us… but we’d been bored by this.

As soon as we’d pulled away from the dock, something broke and we sank to the bottom of the sea. We had to figure out what to do to survive.

Portion of an assembled jigsaw puzzle featuring a shark, and fish swimming around a wreck.
Submarine

Analysis

➕ The jigsaw puzzle was vibrant. It featured great art.

➕ It was a moderately challenging, but fair assembly. There was a lot of blue, but there were also lots of fish and details to help pull everything together.

Ravensburger's Submarine Escape Puzzle box art. depicts the 759 piece count and an undersea view filled with fish and a shark.

❓ We found most of the “escape room” puzzles to be a touch easier than those in the other Escape Puzzles released in Ravensburger’s first wave.

➖ The story in the instructions featured a choppy English translation.

➖ One of the puzzle solutions was at best lacking a significant clue… but it was probably just an incorrect inversion of the numbers. This was disappointing, but it wasn’t game-breaking… especially if you’ve played other Escape Puzzles and have a sense of how they work.

Closeup of a puzzle element depicting three different types of fish.
If you’re struggling on this puzzle… you’re probably right and the game is wrong.
Broken Puzzle:

The actually correct answer to the above fish puzzle is 846.

For unclear reasons, the game reports the correct solution as 462. We stared at this thing with a few really experienced puzzlers (including 2009 US Sudoku National Champion, Tammy McLeod) and we couldn’t imagine a way to get 462. I have to believe that this was a typo.

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➕ The concluding meta-puzzle was another clever solution. Ravensburger pushed this game mechanic considerably farther than we’d expected.

BUY IT NOW

Buy your copy of Ravensburger’s Submarine Escape Puzzle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Ravensburger provided a sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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