Puzzle Room Pittsburgh – The Study [Review]

Reading Between the Lines

Location:  Pittsburgh, PA

Date Played: July 2, 2021

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Stairs, although not necessary for all

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

With a room named The Study, I was fully-prepared to search for puzzle codes given a chapter and page number, to arrange encyclopedias in order on a shelf, or a dozen other consistently-used puzzle formats in a library setting. Instead, we found that Puzzle Room Pittsburgh cleverly sidestepped stereotypical thematic puzzles while introducing unique tech interactions throughout the space.   

An old typewriter in the foreground, a beautiful bookcase wall in the background.

Of particular interest was the layered manner in which puzzles were assembled, allowing us to unpack the storyline from multiple viewpoints in the room. The pacing of gameplay appropriately escalated as we progressed, with one particularly delightful reveal awaiting us at the finale.

Although the room took advantage of non-standard locking mechanisms, enhanced audible or visual feedback would be welcome – we had to search for what had changed within the space after a few successful solves.

The Study was a solid escape room and certainly worth the trip if you are in the greater Pittsburgh region.

Who is this for?

  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Puzzle lovers
Continue reading “Puzzle Room Pittsburgh – The Study [Review]”

Exit: The Game – The Deserted Lighthouse (with Jigsaws) [Hivemind Review]

The Deserted Lighthouse is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit Deserted Lighthouse box art depicts an illuminated lighthouse in the middle of rough seas at night.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game with jigsaw puzzle component

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A mobile device is not required, but can be used for background sound effects.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 2-3 hours

Price: about $25

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are on a mission to repair a mysteriously darkened lighthouse before a ship crashes into the shoreline. To reach the lamp and save the day, you must complete a series of jigsaw puzzles that represent different parts of the lighthouse and also provide clues and other tools to help you solve riddles along the way. For each riddle, you enter a 3-digit code into a decoder wheel. If the code is correct, you gain access to a new pamphlet and/ or jigsaw puzzle that provides additional narration and instructions for the next riddle.

4 individual bags of jigsaw puzzle pieces.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Even more than The Sacred Temple, this game makes creative and multifaceted use of the jigsaw format, a bold step that yields both frustrations and rewards as it ramps up the difficulty level. Although some of my complaints from The Sacred Temple persist in this game (murky jigsaw art, awkward jigsaw collaboration), I found the pacing between jigsawing and solving to be much more balanced here because the clue-based puzzles were significantly heftier, requiring more connections and outside-the-box thinking. I particularly enjoyed combining clues across multiple jigsaw puzzles; it made the game feel simultaneously less linear and more coherent, like the different areas of the lighthouse were part of the same whole. On the other hand, I found some puzzles to be a bit too risky to enjoy (e.g. we might be doing a lot of unpleasant erasing if something went awry). Other times I was frustrated due to ambiguous cluing that lacked adequate opportunities for redirection, which sadly marred the most ambitious puzzle, among others. Fortunately, the hint system is solid.

Despite these extremes, overall I enjoyed this game. I don’t consider myself to be a jigsaw enthusiast, so it’s important to me for the jigsaw puzzles to justify themselves in other ways. Here, I felt like the creative and unexpected ways that the clue-based puzzles leveraged the jigsaw format satisfied this criterion. That, combined with the general complexity of the puzzles, resulted in more time deducing than jigsawing, which is the right balance for me. Nonetheless, the frustrations were distracting, so I’m still hoping for a more seamless experience in future versions of this format.

Assorted game components including a sea map, a solution wheel, and instructions.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The lighthouse is dark, the keeper is missing, and there’s a ship sailing through the storm that will crash into the rocks – unless you can figure out how to get inside and restore the broken lamp in time! The Deserted Lighthouse is the second game in the Exit: The Game series to include jigsaw puzzles as part of the experience, and compared to The Sacred Temple, this one was much more enjoyable. The story was minimal, and I’m not exactly sure I understood part of the ending, but it’s the puzzles that stood out and made this game fun. There were a number of really unique and surprising manipulations of game materials to lead you to solutions. One multi-layered puzzle was so cool I had to call people over to show them! As with The Sacred Temple, the addition of jigsaw puzzles increases the length of the game – each puzzle took me about 15 minutes, and that adds up when there are four jigsaws in the box – but it also adds new opportunities for unusual and satisfying tactile puzzles. I hope the series continues to innovate, experiment, and light the path forward for other tabletop escape game designers.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

Of the many Exit: The Game installations played so far in this series of reviews, The Deserted Lighthouse was a favorite. Assuming that the players’ jigsaw puzzle skills are up to par (of which mine assuredly are not), the gameplay within The Deserted Lighthouse is fair and worth the work required for the reveals. There were several pops of satisfying realizations and fair discoveries that are tied together with beautiful artwork. In this edition, the puzzles embedded into completed jigsaws were much more legible than in The Sacred Temple, and had minimal logical leaps. This game would be good for groups of three players (four at most), and would be a reasonable challenge for those new to the Exit: The Game series.

Theresa W’s Reaction

I quite love what Exit: The Game is doing with the jigsaw puzzle series, and The Deserted Lighthouse is no exception. As your team rushes to turn back on the lighthouse to save a ship from hitting shore, puzzles are blocking your path! By using your wits and your (clearly) superior jigsaw skills, you’ll be able to get the ship back safely. The puzzles aren’t too difficult at only 88 pieces, but the lack of color definition makes them a bit tedious. With some more contrast, these puzzles could really be fun for all audiences, and not just folks comfortable with jigsaws. The puzzles were standard for the Exit: The Game series, but used the jigsaws to amplify what could have been less exciting in the traditional card and booklet format. If you’re comfortable solving jigsaws, or okay spreading this across multiple plays, I definitely recommend checking this out (and picking up The Sacred Temple while you’re at it!).

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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

Enigma Escape Rooms Wakefield – Uncle Artemis [Hivemind Review]

Uncle Artemis is a point-and-click game created by Enigma Escape Rooms Wakefield in Wakefield, England.

An old study filled with antique furniture.

Format

Style of Play:

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

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: £20

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

It’s a point-and-click puzzle game in Telescape. You have a 360-degree room photo, items you can collect, and places to input your answers.

Closeup of an old desk, with an open cabinet and a puzzle within.

Hivemind Review Scale

Exit: The Game – The Sacred Temple (with Jigsaws) [Hivemind Review]

The Sacred Temple is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game: Sacred Temple box art depicts a south east asian landscape.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game with jigsaw puzzle component

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A phone is not required, but there is an app with a timer and background sounds.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 2-3 hours

Price: about $25

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are on a quest to prevent a band of treasure hunters from stealing ancient artifacts from a sacred temple. To navigate to the temple, you must complete a series of jigsaw puzzles that not only reveal new locations on your journey but also provide clues and other tools to help you solve riddles along the way. For each riddle, you enter a 3-digit code into a decoder wheel. If the code is correct, you gain access to a new pamphlet and/ or jigsaw puzzle that provides additional narration and instructions for the next riddle.

4 sealed bags of puzzle pieces.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

The alternation of jigsaw puzzles and clue-based puzzles in this game introduced intriguing gameplay but also led to odd pacing and collaboration awkwardness. The four jigsaw puzzles were murky and sometimes nondescript, leading us to question our household lighting choices. Because the puzzles are small, it’s difficult to gather around them and collaborate, especially without blocking the light. It was also a jarring change of pace to jigsaw then solve, jigsaw then solve, a pattern that interrupted the momentum of the game at times. Finally, a significant portion of the game is jigsawing, so if that’s not really your thing, there’s more than you will likely enjoy.

Aside from what you think about the jigsaw puzzles as jigsaw puzzles, they do open up a new world of game mechanics for a series that already prides itself on using game pieces in unexpected ways. I enjoyed experimenting with solutions here. However, I found that some of the more difficult aha moments were early in the game when I had less awareness of the possibilities. This not only deprived us of the joy of discovery as we relied on hints but also led to overthinking later puzzles. Additionally, one early puzzle led us to hyperfocus on a number of red herrings later in the game, and the last puzzle was fairly anticlimactic. Individually, the puzzles were interesting enough, so a different ordering might have been a better onramping experience.

Even though I thought there was a lot to improve upon here, this format still shows potential. Inasmuch as the jigsaw puzzles are used for creative purposes, they add a fun new dimension to the Exit: The Game series that I’m excited about. When they’re just a different medium for presenting clues, they mostly slow down the game without much benefit. I look forward to seeing how later games will refine this balance.

Assorted game components including a paper snake and a solution wheel.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Sacred Temple brings completely new mechanics to the well-regarded Exit: The Game series. Instead of the regular items we are used to seeing, four jigsaw puzzles and a new riddle and hint system are now the star components of the game. As we’ve come to expect with Exit: The Game installments, the props are integrated in unusual ways, and the thematic jigsaws result in a multi-level puzzling experience. I did find a few of the game elements hard to see due to the dark images, leading to a few “pixel hunt” situations I had to resolve with hints. The pacing of the game was unusually strong, as each jigsaw introduces a new dramatic situation for you to confront. There is a lot of story in The Sacred Temple and the excitement builds as you make your way through the jungle adventure (although it ends rather abruptly). I really enjoy playing Exit: The Game installments and it is refreshing to see them exploring off the beaten path.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

The Sacred Temple is a perfect fit for groups of 2-4 people who are natural jigsaw puzzlers, adding in a fun dimension to the Exit: The Games series. While navigating an island to search for a professor, we came across four distinct locations to explore, each represented by a different jigsaw puzzle to assemble. This new format allowed the creators to introduce refreshingly new gameplay dynamics that would not be possible with the use of cards alone. There is also a new, streamlined answer-check feature that I hope will be adopted across the Exit: The Games series as a whole. Fair warning to those who did not realize that they rely on reference pictures to assemble jigsaws: it can be a humbling experience and it might be wise to break this game up into two sessions.

Puzzle pamphlets that look like leather journals with geometric symbols laid on a table.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Sacred Temple took the format we know and love from the Exit: The Game series and implemented it pretty flawlessly into four jigsaw puzzles and some strange objects. The jigsaw puzzles do a great job at portraying the story through showing detailed visuals that follow along with the small clue pamphlets (that replace the storybook from normal Exit: The Game installments.)

In terms of puzzles, this may have been one of the stronger installments in the Exit: The Game series. The puzzles weren’t difficult, but they were all satisfying to solve. Exit: The Game was able to design so many tangible puzzles that weren’t just paper-based and truly used the medium to the utmost extent. This game would be pretty easy to reset if you wanted to hand it off to someone else, assuming they don’t mind that you cut one or two things! I’m really looking forward to playing more of these jigsaw puzzle Exit: The Game installments, as they are filled with so many new ideas and mechanics!

David Spira’s Reaction

This was a regular installment of Exit: The Game, but they’d removed a few journal pages and turned them into jigsaw puzzles.

I generally enjoy the Exit: The Game series and I am an avid jigsaw puzzler. Thus Exit: The Game with jigsaw puzzles is not something that I’m going to argue with. The price was increased, but so was the playtime.

From an execution standpoint, the puzzles felt well tested, and played like a strong installment of the series.

My knock against The Sacred Temple is in the jigsaw puzzle design. Jigsaw puzzles are a unique art, and a lot goes into getting the coloration, textures, patterns, and depth correct so that the puzzle is engaging. Some of the jigsaw puzzles in The Sacred Temple got there, but not all of them.

I’m excited to see Exit: The Game opening up new design space, and eager to see where they take this new format.

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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

Exit: The Game – The Stormy Flight [Hivemind Review]

The Stormy Flight is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game: The Stormy Flight box art depicts a cockpit view of a lightning storm.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A phone is not required but there is an app with a timer and background sounds.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

This game used the standard format for novice Exit: The Game installments. You have access to a puzzle book, clue cards, various “strange items,” and a decoder wheel for entering the solutions to puzzles. In the novice games like this one, the puzzle book walks you through one puzzle at a time. As in all Exit: The Game installments, you must embrace destroying various parts of the game to solve some of the puzzles.

Assorted game components includes a seating chart for an airliner, riddle and help cards, a solution wheel, and a mirror.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

The Stormy Flight is somewhat above average for a novice Exit: The Game installment, delivering a set of fun-but-simple puzzles amidst a rather coherent story. I continue to be impressed at how this series avoids redundancy in its puzzles and gameplay; regardless of whether I like a puzzle or not, it always feels brand-new in the context of the series. In this game, the puzzles were consistently on-theme and approachable, though none specifically wowed me. However, one pushed the bounds of standard gameplay a bit, creating uncertainty about the validity of using a certain object in an unusual way. Also, the penultimate puzzle again overreaches just a tad; it was clear what to do, but execution was difficult and hard to parse. All that said, these complaints are nitpicky; overall this is a solid game with a more-coherent-than-usual story, fun puzzles, and fairly standard frustrations.

New to Exit: The Game? This game hits a decent enough balance of what I would hope for from a novice game in this series: a low difficulty level, a gentle (if uneven) introduction to game mechanics, helpful hints, and thematic coherence. I think it reflects well on the series and would be a fine place to start.

Fan of Exit: The Game? This game isn’t a standout, but it’s true to the brand. If you want highly challenging puzzles, skip this one; otherwise, it will probably satisfy your Exit: The Game cravings for a spell.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Exit: The Game continues to push the envelope by finding creative ways to hide puzzles in little boxes. Each one I’ve played has been completely different, and The Stormy Flight is no exception. You start the game as a crew member in an airplane that gets damaged due to an electrical storm, and it’s your job to repair a variety of mechanical failures and save the day. As always, the creativeness of the puzzles was on point, though compared to other Exit: The Game installments, I found these puzzles to be a bit easy. Except when they weren’t. One puzzle was difficult to visualize, even knowing the answer. The final puzzle, essentially a clever aha moment, was disappointing. Overall, this game still had high-flying moments, even if it landed with a soft thud.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

There were one or two outstanding puzzle moments in The Stormy Flight, but these were unfortunately overwhelmed by a series of mental leaps that the players were forced to make. I typically really enjoy installments from Exit: The Game, but I must admit that I found this one rather frustrating. We found ourselves spending a long time interpreting the objectives of these puzzles, using far more hints that we would typically use. Twists were tacked on to the end of some puzzles, and these seemed disjointed and unnecessary. Players who enjoy looking at the same puzzle from multiple angles may enjoy this game. The novice rating on the box should likely be increased to account for some of the intentional confusion.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Stormy Flight is a great addition to the Exit: The Game series, incorporating some new gimmicks and many aha moments. This game had quite a few puzzle elements we hadn’t seen in the handful of other Exit: The Game installments we have played. To our group, this game left a bit to be desired in the theme, as it was unique but not overly exciting or immersive. The puzzle flow was very smooth, needing few to no hints throughout the experience. I would not recommend this to first time Exit: The Game players due to it relying on some of the mechanics we had learned in past games, but pick this up if you’re looking to tackle another installment from Exit: The Game with unique, tangible puzzles.

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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