Escape The Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat

8.3 Overall
Component Quality
Puzzle Design
Game Experience
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Escape The Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely's Retreat

  • Played November 2016

  • 90-120 minutes
  • 3-8 players
  • $22 USD

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The ERA team was given the honour of reviewing Dr. Gravely’s Retreat, the second game from Thinkfun’s widely played Escape The Room series. We were a bit tentative approaching this game as we very much enjoyed Stargazer’s Mansion, and weren’t sure they could duplicate the fun we had with the first game in the series. Would Thinkfun be able to catch the spirit of in-home escape rooms yet again? Did we manage to discover the secrets of Dr. Gravely’s retreat and stay alive?

The component quality was impressive. Good thick card stock was used when needed, the artwork was nice, and the pieces for the various riddles and puzzles was pretty good. There were a few fiddly small pieces we didn’t enjoy working with, but they were kept at a minimum and didn’t take away from our impression of how much we liked the game components.

The puzzles were clever, and well thought out. There’s more we’d love to add here, but we don’t want to give away any spoilers by disclosing some of the nice little surprises you’ll encounter. We’ll simply add we were impressed with the variety of puzzles and there was a feeling of satisfaction from all the players we had regardless of puzzle experience level. Ideally we would’ve liked to see more meta-puzzle design where several puzzles could be worked on simultaneously to solve a common task, but for the most part the puzzles kept everyone’s interest level high.

When judging immersion, there are a few things to keep in mind. As with any party game where a host is chosen in advance, atmosphere really matters! Dr. Gravely’s Retreat is no exception to this rule. In order to get the most out of this game you need to get into the spirit of it before you even open the box. There’s a section within the guide that suggests how to set an ideal atmosphere and we strongly suggest it be followed as closely as possible. We were able to provide some of the environment (appropriate background music, and a room filled with lots of wood furniture), but we have no doubt if we planned further in advance we would’ve enjoyed it even more. The story itself was engaging and the puzzles followed along nicely with subtle indicators on how the players should be feeling and experiencing the moment. Even the artwork had a lifelike appearance and worked towards connecting us to the story.

And how about the experience as a party game? Did it draw us in and did we have fun? YES on both accounts! We were quite surprised that our experienced and inexperienced players around the table enjoyed the game equally. The game rules were easy to follow regardless of how many escape rooms, puzzles or party games one had played before. In short, it’s a just a fun game, but here’s the nice surprise we didn’t expect. ThinkFun didn’t want this to be a one and done experience. They designed Dr. Gravely’s Retreat to be passed along to somebody else by allowing you to reset the game and acting as a host for another group to play. There’s an instructional video link given that shows you how to put it all back together after the big mess your group has created! …And not too surprisingly repacking of the game was actually pretty fun also.

So do we recommend purchasing Dr. Gravely’s Retreat? Yes! Is there a restricted audience for this game? Not at all! In fact we suspect this game might come in handy as a fun team building, social building, or even family building exercise (playing multiple copies while teams compete for time would be fun to watch)! Our only caution we’d add in purchasing this game is the number of players you bring to the table. An experienced group of puzzle and/or escape room enthusiasts will enjoy this game most in a group size of 3-4 players. A less experienced group can probably accommodate up to 5 people and still have them feel engaged in the game, but we definitely can’t see this game being enjoyed on the same level if there are 6 or more players at a time.

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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