Ravensburger – The Toy Factory Escape Puzzle [Review]

Nightmare toys

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 14, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

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: Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

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]”

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: Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

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

❓/βž– 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.

βž• The puzzles solved cleanly.

βž– 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.

βž– 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.

βž– 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.

βž• 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.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon, Etsy, or Art of Play 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 – 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: Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

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

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

βž• 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.

βž– 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.

βž– 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.

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

βž–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.

βž• 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.

βž•/βž– 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.

βž– 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, Etsy, or Art of Play 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: Β―\_(ツ)_/Β―

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

βž• 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.

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

βž•/βž– 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.

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

βž– 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, Etsy, or Art of Play 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.