Escape Puzzle – Vampire’s Castle

These Escape Jigsaw Puzzles bring the escape room to you. What makes these puzzles unique is that the pieces throughout the puzzle fit together in multiple configurations, allowing the puzzlers to form items or objects to assist in their escape.

The Good

Jigsaw Puzzle (+3)

When you are used to just flipping cards or flipping notebooks to find direction on the puzzle, it’s interesting that the first puzzle to find the puzzle is literally a physical puzzle! Mind blown!

Art Immersion (+3)

The title of the box sets the expectations of the setting and theme right away. Once you put the puzzle together, the art you see in front of you is exactly as you would have hoped it would be.

Organized and Simple (+3)

The concept is very streamlined — no cards, no booklets, no massive amount of random objects, tools or other crafting. You have a box, it has pieces in it, you put the pieces together, the puzzle is in front of you and all you need to do is stare long enough for epiphanies.

Sustainable (+5)

This game is not destructive — well, at least up until you finish the puzzle and need to put it back on the shelf. After you’re done with keeping this puzzle spread across a table in your home somewhere for days, trust me: there will be blood.

Ambiguity (+5)

I always enjoy absolutely no leads on where the actual puzzle is. Your interest in the art and configuration of the room leads you into a place of forgetfulness that this is indeed a room you need to escape!

The Bad

Jigsaw Puzzle (-2)

Yes, I know I had this in The Good but this is also The Bad for me.
I have a love-hate relationship with jigsaw puzzles but my friend at least found it satisfying to put everything together. It’s always important to find puzzle partners that enable your laziness. However, if you’re flying solo on this and you don’t like jigsaws you’re out of luck.

Poor Puzzle Design (-4)

Some of the solutions for the puzzles in this game are not friendly in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. Arguably when you complete a jigsaw puzzle you’re going to keep it on a table and not mess with it because you worked too hard to put it together already! The solutions for the puzzles I’m talking about, without spoiling it, require you to have non-linear seeing. That’s all I’ll give out.

Deceiving Artistic Choices (-1)

This applies to both the construction of the jigsaw itself as well as identifying certain symbols or quantities of items in the room. It’s not distinct enough without more contextual information that you’re on the right track.

Table Hog (-0.5)

I did not complete this in one sitting with my friend. We had to leave it on the coffee table for a few weeks before we had the patience — after spending most if not all of it on the jigsaw puzzle itself — to look for puzzles. Until then, that coffee table was dead to us.

Unsatisfying Solution Experience (-3)

I know you’re not supposed to do this, but don’t tell me that you haven’t done it before: reverse engineer an answer. There are several numbers around the edge pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that represent solutions to puzzles you identify in the room. And… that’s about it. You put the answer puzzle pieces together and it shows you how you get out of the room. YAWN.

The Ugly

Rectangular Punchboard Waste (-1.5)

It would not make sense to have all the pieces together in the first place so I don’t even know why I’m bringing it up. Yet I’m subjecting you to my nonsense complaint anyway. The publisher was lazy enough to include the weird rectangular punchboard waste from their own manufacturing process. So you need to sort this out from the puzzle piece pile when you dump out the bag. Yeesh.

Pieces are Too Small (-1)

Not only are you looking at tiny numbers but you’re also looking at tiny details and like I mentioned before this game ate up the coffee table. The art has a lot of detail in it so there isn’t an easy surefire way other than creating piles of like-colored pieces to start knocking out chunks of this. Even then, if you didn’t quite get the orientation right, you’ll find yourself crumbling up the completed efforts with your superhuman strength (kidding, it’s just normal human strength which makes it worse).

Cover Art is Loosely Related (-0.5)

The game gives you a teaser idea of what the art will possibly look like. It does look similar and could be used as a guide but other than that it serves no other purpose.

Cannot Solve without Jigsaw Prowess (-1.5)

You say, “But Michelle, I love the investigation piece, is that in the game eventually?” So I reply with: All you’re doing is sitting, waiting or at least haphazardly trying to contribute in some way to the jigsaw effort (and failing to do so). Consequently, you’re getting half a game for the full price.

Hard for Solo Play (-2)

Did I mention I am terrible at jigsaw puzzles? What would have happened if I had tried to knock this out on my own? What would have happened if I didn’t have friends who liked puzzles? Had it not been for them, I would have avoided it like the plague despite wanting so badly to get to the “real puzzles” — oof, sorry jigsaw fans.

Difficulty: 1/5 for Novice
Satisfaction Grade: D+ (69.3%) for Okay
Worth Your Money? No.