Headlocked Escape Rooms – The Keeper & the Fungus Among Us [Hivemind Review]

The Keeper & the Fungus Among Us is an unusual, avatar-led, livestreamed escape game created by Headlocked Escape Rooms in the UK.

A puppet with evil eyes, closed captioned, "I put the fun in fungi."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players
  • Video-based experience

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: 90 minutes

Price: £75 for up to 6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This is a Zoom-based game with standard avatar-led gameplay… except your avatar is a hand puppet and the game area is a series of changing miniature dioramas. It also includes videos and a bangin’ soundtrack.

A large turtle puppet in a diorama beside a bule spider puppet.

ThinkFun – Cold Case: A Pinch of Murder [Hivemind Review]

Cold Case: Pinch of Murder is a tabletop mystery game created by ThinkFun.

An assortment of crime evidence. In the center of the frame are two photos of an old kitchen.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Tabletop mystery game
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: about 1-2 hours, maybe more with all the reading

Price: ~$15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Your job is to solve an old murder case and some related crimes. To do so, you examine all the evidence in the case file and answer three questions about the crimes. When you have your answers, you input them into a website for confirmation.

There were no “puzzles” along the way to the solution, just reading and comparing evidence.

An assortment of crime evidence. In the center of the frame is a photo of a collection of jewelry with a watch circled in red.

Meridian Adventure Co – The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg [Hivemind Review]

Illustrated veiw of Little Sodaburg, features a castle, a church, a large fish fountain, and assorted buildings.

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an online puzzle game created by Meridian Adventure Co that combines puzzle style elements from escape rooms, ARGs, and video games.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Web-based gameplay
  • Includes video elements

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-5

Play Time: 75 minutes

Price: $125 for 2-6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an online game with an in-character game host (not an avatar whom you control). Players solve puzzles collaboratively with their teammates using a variety of in-universe websites.

Black & white illustration of the Little Sodaburg Patent Office

Exit: The Game – The Cursed Labyrinth [Hivemind Review]

The Cursed Labyrinth is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game, The Cursed Labyrinth box art with a stone maze structure on the cover.

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

While touring the grounds of a castle, you wander into a mysterious labyrinth and become trapped with only your puzzle-solving skills to save you. Your adventure follows 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, though this installment preserves more components than most.

Assorted game components including a maze, a solution wheel, card deck, and instructions.

Cindi S’ Reaction

During a visit to an ancient castle, you discover a mysterious stone labyrinth in the nearby gardens. Unable to resist, you walk through the entry gate to explore further and quickly become trapped as the doors slam shut! In The Cursed Labyrinth, you will meet mysterious creatures as you puzzle your way through the maze’s twists and turns. I always enjoy the sound effects in the companion app, and for the first time they added a character voice reading the introduction, which immediately brought the story to life. The puzzles were fun to discover and solve, as always, but a few had more direction than usual, making The Cursed Labyrinth less challenging than other Exit: The Game installments. This is a very good choice for younger players and beginners, but experienced players will still enjoy their path through the Labyrinth.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

During a tour of an old castle, you and your friends find yourself trapped in a complicated maze with all sorts of creatures in Exit: The Game’s The Cursed Labyrinth. With two or three reaches that stretch past the Novice rating on the box, this game would be most appropriate for a group of 2-4 people (including a few adults) that have played at least one Exit: The Game installment before. There were several puzzles executed with new game mechanics that will interest even those people who have played a number of games in this series before. That being said, while Exit Game installments are typically translated flawlessly into English, there is one hint card that notes to pay attention to text in cursive, which is incorrect and may be misleading.*

*Update October 21, 2021: This translation issue has been fixed in subsequent printings.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Exit: The Game series is usually a fairly positive experience for me, usually containing clever puzzles and fun interactions that break from my expectations, given the game components. The Cursed Labyrinth lived up to its ‘cursed’ title and was one of the weakest additions to the Exit: The Game series so far. From vague extractions that weren’t well clued to arbitrary deciphering to lack of signposting, this game fell apart. While a handful of puzzles were easy to solve, they felt more like a process and less like solving a puzzle. The game had either extremely easy but satisfying solves, or poorly executed difficult puzzles, with none of them quite landing in the middle. Each puzzle in the game was a good idea, and could have been a cleaner solve, but in the current state, I really cannot recommend The Cursed Labyrinth. If you’re looking to pick up a title in the series, I’d recommend The Enchanted Forest or The Gate Between Worlds.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

This was a solidly average Exit: The Game installment with no major flaws, but also no major wow moments. The setting of a “cursed labyrinth” offered coherent mythological theming throughout the game, but resulted in visually murky game materials. All of the puzzles were reasonable with fairly obvious cluing, though a couple required us to reason about game mechanics in ways that benefitted from familiarity with those mechanics. There was also a surprising red herring, which was rather unusual for the series and was particularly disappointing in this case because we were otherwise intrigued by it.

New to Exit: The Game? Maybe don’t start here. Although some puzzles provide decent onramps to the series’s mechanics, there are too many that expect more familiarity with those mechanics than a first-time player is likely to develop within their first play.

Fan of Exit: The Game? If you gravitate toward the easier, more linear installments in the series, this game is a fine choice with a couple of interesting twists on game mechanics. Don’t expect anything mind-blowing, and you’ll have a nice time.

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

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Deadbolt Mystery Society – Last Resort [Hivemind Review]

Last Resort is tabletop puzzle-based murder mystery game created by Deadbolt Mystery Society.

Deadbolt Last Resort box beside an inflated beach ball and an assortment of colorful paper puzzle items.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: mobile device

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 1.5 – 2 hours

Price: the price per box is $24.99 for a month-to-month subscription

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

This was a puzzle-based murder mystery game. It was designed to be part of a monthly puzzle box subscription service.