NorCal Escape Co – Escape Truck [Review]

Cons and Pros

Location:  Yuba City, CA

Date Played: November 14, 2021

Team Size: 2-4; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 41 minutes

Price: $100 for 2 players, $120 for 3-4 players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

The 41-minute-long Escape Truck packed an impressive amount of gameplay into a tiny space.

When approaching a mobile escape room, I look for a game that utilizes clever workarounds to compensate for a compact set and that tells a story appropriate for the mobile vehicle format. Escape Truck checked both of these boxes.

The premise was straightforward: we were convicts being transported to a new facility, and we had a brief window to escape after our truck crashed. When we were first led onto the truck, it felt wholly convincing as a prisoner transport vehicle. We were led to understand our roles in the story before we went on to discover the layers of secrets concealed in this environment.

The gameplay in Escape Truck was subtle yet exciting. A split-team start helped move players around the space efficiently and largely avoided single-player bottleneck puzzles. Escape Truck would be a great introduction to escape rooms for players new to the medium, and with a solid smattering of sneaky little reveals, it would be equally enjoyable for more seasoned enthusiasts.

Note: We played the 41-minute version of the Escape Truck. NorCal Escape Co also offers a different 15-minute version of the game for events, which features an entirely set of puzzles.

Unlocked handcuffs hanging from a metal bar.
Image via NorCal Escape Co
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Enchambered – Apart in Time [Hivemind Review]

Apart in Time is a 2-player point-and-click game created by Enchambered in Sacramento, CA.

This game is in a similar style to Enchambered’s other digital games: Alone TogetherTogether Apart, and Together At Heart.

Key art for Apart in Time features a broken mirror with a haunting face in the shards.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: Computer with internet connection. Each player needs their own computer.

Recommended Team Size: exactly 2

Play Time: about 60 minutes

Price: pay what you want, minimum of $10

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Apart in Time is a two-person, cooperative game where each player has partial information and needs to communicate with the other person to solve the puzzles.

CU Adventures – Solve Our Shirts: Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove [Review]

I’ll take a laaarrrge shirt, matey.

Location: at home

Date Played: December 25, 2021

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2

Duration: 60-90 minutes

Price: $45-$50 for a single shirt, $80-$90 for a couples pack

REA Reaction

We were big fans of the first Solve Our Shirts game, Escape from the Maze of the Minotaur… so we had XXL expectations coming into their latest game, Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove.

I can safely report that Solve Our Shirts managed to take what was great about their first game and improve upon it… and they managed to do this without treading the same ground. It’s remarkable how many surprises can be hidden in a damn t-shirt. It feels like magic.

Close up of the Treasure Trove of Pirate Cover t-shirt, depicts a shipwreck beside an island with a skull cave.
Image via Solve Our Shirts

Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove wasn’t a perfect game. The first puzzle was a bit of a steep on-ramp and I really wish that there was one clear puzzle on the front of the shirt that a friend could solve while we’re sitting in a restaurant, so that when they ask about the shirt, you can explain that “it’s a puzzle shirt, and here’s a simple one for you.”

I’ll also add that I think that the aesthetics of this Solve Our Shirts’ shirt are greatly improved… and while I probably won’t wear it out… because I’m a New Yorker at heart and sea green is waaaayyyyy too far from black for my comfort… I’m flirting with the idea of wearing this one, just to see what it feels like to wear this color. Your mileage may vary.

Overall, Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove is a stellar tabletop escape game product. CU Adventures comfortably ranks among the top creators in the field. If you’re even passingly interested in play-at-home puzzle games, this is one to buy.

I cannot wait to see what they think of next.

Series Overview

This review only covers details specific to this individual game from Solve Our Shirts.

For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Solve Our Shirts Overview.

Treasure Trove of Pirates Cove differs from the overview in three key ways:

  • There are no women’s cut shirts.
  • This product doesn’t have the easy mode pamphlet.
  • There isn’t a deluxe option.
A woman in a brown leather coat opening it up and revealing the Pirate Cove t-shirt.
Image via Solve Our Shirts
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E-Scape Rooms – The Sword of Drakul [Hivemind Review]

The Sword of Drakul is a point-and-click game created by E-Scape Rooms in the UK.

3D rendering of a pedestal in an ancient temple.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Web-based inventory system
  • Point-and-click

Who is it for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Story seekers
  • Good for newbies
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-3

Play Time: You have an unlimited timer and the game link is valid for up to 4 days. It took our reviewers less than an hour to play.

Price: GBP 14.99

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are traveling through rooms in a castle virtually (point-and-click) and solving various puzzles to move from room to room. This is a standard Telescape game with 360-degree pictures. You look around for clickable items that help you to solve puzzles and enter codes.

The Detective Society – The Professor’s Missing Potion [Review]

Kids on the Case

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 18, 2021

Team size: We recommend 1-3 kids plus an adult

Duration: 45-60 minutes

Price: £8.99

REA Reaction

Within the genre of puzzling games for kids, The Professor’s Missing Potion stands out as a well designed, satisfying experience that did many things well for its audience. It offered an introduction to some common puzzle types within a cartoonishly immersive plot and environment. It used smart design choices to make the gameplay manageable for kids while still engaging them in delightful and authentic ways. Its fantastical plot, variety of interactions, and subtle humor connected well with my kids’ imaginations, effectively convincing them that they might actually be doing something real.

A man in a white lab coat with goggles, and a green background.

My main critique regards some minor quality control issues that detracted from the experience. First, no orientation materials were included in the downloaded files. This undermined my ability to set expectations and to make sure we were referring to the print materials as intended. This unease dissipated as the game progressed, but the scarcity of information between purchasing and beginning the game was a gap in the customer journey that could easily be bridged to give players (or their adult sidekick) more confidence. Also, the final puzzle seemed to have an error that forced us to guess rather than solve, resulting in anticlimactic feelings about the conclusion.

Ultimately, though, The Professor’s Missing Potion was a solidly entertaining kids’ activity that literally evoked childlike wonder. We’re glad we played and hope The Detective Society makes more games for this audience.

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