The House of Riddles
Exit The Game
Written by: The Bat
Opening this game was definitely an interesting experience. As someone who is sooo experienced with at-home games (just kidding, Readers, I’ve only played one), I had an expectation of seeing cards and an instruction book. Those were there too, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some extra things in the box, things I could only wonder as to their purpose. Simple as that was, it hooked me in from step one.
The instructions themselves were pretty easy to understand. They tell you how to use the cards and the decoder circle thingie.
Dragon: Thingie is the technical term 🙂
They also tell you about the things you’ll need from around the house to play the game. Go get them. You will need them. A couple of the bolded words in the instructions looked like they were meant to be labels of objects, and were not, so a bit of confusion ensued, but was pretty easy to sort out by process of elimination. All in all, we went into this game confident that we knew what was going on and could play the game.
And, a refreshing change from Tonipal’s Treasure (read the review here), we were right! A couple of parts of the game needed hints, but the hints actually explained how to solve the puzzles. The flavor text continued all the way through, telling us a fun, family-friendly story as we played. We got to meet fun characters, play with fun props, solve creative puzzles, and succeed at rescuing the missing detectives!
Props & Decor:
The props in this game grabbed me from the beginning. They were simple, but also varied in a way that has the player going “What’s This” “ What’s it for?” and I loved that.
And all of them are going to play a part in the game, leading to a satisfying completion feeling as you discover how they are used and for what.
One of the slightly annoying parts about this game is that about three-quarters of the way in, they send you to grab a prop that they assume everyone would have around the house. The assumption part is what bothers me. If you don’t have this particular object in your home, you have to burn through the clue cards to get the solution and you don’t get to see how the puzzle works. While it is not a game-breaker, it is a bit irksome.
Also, there is a destruction aspect to the props in the game. You have to rip a page out and cut and color on it. While they do warn you about this, I was not prepared for the strange feeling it gave me as someone who is used to live escape rooms. You are used to not wrecking anything, and the fact that there is only one copy means if you mess it up, you will wreck that part of the game for everyone! I am not good at cutting under pressure! That being said, once that part was finished and we got to see the solution, we realized that it was actually a pretty creative puzzle. I would say it was worth the anxiety to get there, it was just interesting how much our instincts about what escape rooms are supposed to be came to play here.
I liked the puzzles in this game. They were solvable in a logical fashion. A few were hard enough to need hints, but the hints were helpful and usually allowed us to solve the problem. I also liked that the solution hints showed us how the solution was achieved as opposed to just giving us the answer.
There was one puzzle that, no matter how many hints were used, I am still not sure that the puzzle actually indicated that solution. While it probably did to the author, it made me miss having someone who could explain the answer to us, step by step. As much as we play these at-home games, I don’t think they will ever completely compare to the experience of going to a live venue with a good game master.
The best part of the puzzles for this game was the variety of them. While some of them did just involve looking at the pictures and the cards, not all of them did. Some involved picture interpretation, some comparisons, or decoding. There were even a couple of very creative physical and team-involved puzzles. I think the most fun was the final one, which will have the entire group scrambling through every game piece in front of you, even the ones you least expect, to find the final solution in a breathless triumph!
The theme of the game itself was “The House of Riddles”, which basically implies an escape game. So it was pretty easy to achieve. That being said, the storyline that wove throughout the little booklet was definitely fun to read. They introduced the characters and gave enough aspects for the players to smile about. It also made me feel a bit as if I should already know the characters. I wonder if they’re in every game. There was definitely enough description to make us see the mysterious house and feel the creepy ambiance of the mystery.
The way they wrote this kind of reminded me of the kids’ mystery shows I used to watch in the ’90s. The box says ages 10 and up, and I would definitely see a family having fun playing this game and the story holding the attention of kids that young.
This game was definitely fun, logical, challenging, and achievable. We finished it in 72 minutes (it is a 2-hour max game) with 5 hints. They have a chart in the game that gives you your stats in 1 to 10 stars, and we got 7. Knowing that is almost as good as seeing your name on a leaderboard at your local escape room.
I would also say this game qualified as an escape from reality, even though we didn’t leave our house (or even get out of our PJs). I didn’t look at the timer for the first few puzzles and was pleasantly surprised when I saw that 45 minutes had flown by without me knowing it. We were so busy solving puzzles and reading the story that the entire world disappeared. That, my Readers, is what an escape game should do!
Of course, as a team used to timing out 60-minute games, when we saw that 45 minutes, we did start to rush a bit. Ooops! When you play, remember you don’t have to do that!
They gave a little certificate at the end of the booklet to fill in your stats, and some nifty little souvenirs to keep after the game. I like that since we can’t reuse the game. Plus one of them is a pie recipe! Another fun activity for the family to follow a fun game night!
Dragon: The certificate idea was really cool but it is a bit of an odd size. It did however give me the idea to make a PDF that could be turned into a common 8.5×11 framed picture to put on the wall and collect with your family. If you want them in a different size let the Bat know and I’m sure she’ll convey the request. For now here’s the 8.5×11 Fillable PDF Download.