After we discovered the world of 'escape rooms at home' because of Escape Room The Game we started looking for similar games. Eventually we stumbled upon Escape The Room: Mystery At The Stargazer's Manor. A game by ThinkFun, a succesfull American gamedeveloper specialised in educational games. There's no Dutch version available, so we played the game in English. We didn't see the game in any stores yet. It's available on amazon.com for instance though, so you could import it yourself.
It's 1869 and Richard Harrison is a renowned astronomer in his city. But since his wife passed he hasn't been seen anymore and strange thing are happening around his manor: heavy noises, strange smells and there's also smoke coming from his observatory. Time for us to solve this mystery!
Before you begin you'll read the short but clear manual. The whole game is pretty self explanatory, but it's wise to read up on how to use the rotating disc first. You'll use this disc to check the solutions to the puzzles. By entering your answers into the rotating desc you'll see a row of symbols. If they match it's correct. Very simple, but it works great! Within 5 minutes we were playing, a great plus in comparison to some other games!
You'll mainly find envelopes in the box. You can only an envelope when you solved its matching puzzle. Before starting someone reads out the story to get in the mood. During the game you'll learn more and more about this story. There's a lot of text to read. Which gives you a lot of information and drawns you into the story. And if you want some music and dressing tips (yes, really!) to get in the mood, ThinkFun has got you covered on their website (www.thinkfun.com/escapetheroom). You'll think you're actually in 1869. On that website you'll also find the hint system: click on an envelop that you didn't manage to solve and you'll get a hint.
According to the makers the game is suitable for 3 to 8 players. We played it two (we're such rebels) and this worked just fine. The length of the game is of course depending on how fast you solve the puzzles but they're promising 90 to 120 minutes of fun on the box, depending on the amount of players. The concept remains the same, solve the mystery of the dissapeared astronomer and escape in time from the manor. It's a bit of a letdown that you need to set an alarm yourself. The fact that you'll hear the same alarm when you lose the game as when you get up on the morning doesn't really improve the mood we think. Not done puzzling after solving all the ridles? Then there's the option to solve an extra challenge in the last part of the game.
We liked the design, the drawings and style look inviting. The drawing on the box made us want to solve the mystery. The puzzles are also fun, but a bit too easy. Yeah, it felt good to solve the puzzles, but even with the included extra challenge we were done within 40 minutes. That's quite far from the 2 hours the manual says. The maximum amount of players of 8 seems rather optimistic to us. We would recommend playing it with 1 to 3 players. With or without escape room experience.
So didn't we enjoy ourselves? We did. But we expected more. Partly by the promises on the box, partly by all the escape rooms we played. Or maybe it's because Escape Room The Game raised the bar a lot higher. This is fun as an introduction or to play in between other games, but it doesn't offer enough value for escape enthusiasts.
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