Game Length: 2-4 hours
Escape Room board games have been around for years, emulating the unique Escape Room experience of solving riddles and puzzles with friends in a heavily thematic setting.
While other Escape Room board games are filled with envelopes, lock boxes, and pages of cryptic clues, the newest Escape the Room game from ThinkFun, The Cursed Dollhouse, transforms the entire game box into a 3D Dollhouse for an immersive and horror-themed puzzle-solving experience – perfect for a Halloween get-together!
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Some assembly is required to create the evil, haunted dollhouse, as the two halves of the box form the four rooms of the house, along with an attic on top. Each room contains some tantalizing objects to investigate: a bookshelf in pieces, a foldable shower curtain, a locked chest, and several different kinds of dolls.
After assembly we begin the Escape Room by reading from the manual, which drops us into the supernatural dollhouse like an episode of The Twilight Zone. The writing is richly evocative and doesn’t wear out its welcome – we only read from the manual after completing a room and moving to the next one, as the story grows more desperate.
The goal is to escape the house by solving puzzles in each room one by one, beginning in the living room. Each room holds several puzzles that we’ll need to solve in order to plug in the correct symbols into the code wheel and unlock the next room.
The room-by-room approach helps keep the story focused while providing several puzzles to work through simultaneously. What makes The Cursed Dollhouse special is the tactile joy from physically searching the rooms for clues and objects, not unlike a classic Point and Click adventure video game.
Like an Adventure game, it’s entirely possible to get completely stumped. I’m no Escape Room veteran but I have played a number of puzzle games, and The Cursed Dollhouse doesn’t pull any punches. The Kitchen alone had my wife and me scratching our heads for nearly an hour.
Thankfully ThinkFun includes an intuitive digital hint system on their website, as well as mood music, and reassembly instructions. By clicking on a room, then an object, you can easily pull up only the specific hint you need, beginning with a slight nudge all the way to the full solution. It’s a smart approach that gives us the satisfying Ah-Ha moment without spoiling the whole puzzle.
The recommended age rating for Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse is 13+. Puzzles can be quite complex, but more importantly the theming is classic Horror (though never R-rated) as you work to escape an evil haunted house.
After playing The Cursed Dollhouse, I can’t imagine returning to the mundane 2D picture cards of other Escape Room games. The 3D puzzle box expertly captures foreboding tension while focusing on diabolical puzzles, making Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse the best escape room experience you can have without leaving your home.
Find Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse at Amazon.