- Played January 2017
- Tempe, AZ
- 6-8 players
- What People Say
The Southwest US is not a hotbed for escape room activities, but the greater Phoenix area has started to see a growth in the trend. We had the pleasure of visiting The Sleuth Box in Tempe, AZ and we walked away smiling, proud and energized. Lindsey, Brian and Sherrod clearly take pride in their work. The Study is the only room currently running, but another room is under construction as we speak. We bet they will put in the same amount of time and care into their new puzzles so it will undoubtedly be worth the wait.
The Sleuth Box is located in the back of an office plaza about 15 minutes east of downtown Phoenix. None of the businesses in this complex are allowed to have visible signage so make sure you type the complete address into your GPS. We did not have trouble finding the location. The entrance and waiting room are nicely decorated, but without any activities to keep you entertained while you wait for your group. However, since there is just one room running, it is unlikely that there is much need for a more elaborate entrance. Customer service is stellar and you can tell that you are visiting an escape room built by enthusiasts. Just like your Esc Room Addict team, the owners of The Sleuth Box want to see a community of high quality rooms and happy customers.
When you book your visit you’ll notice that the time slots are set for two hours instead of the standard 30 or 60 minutes. The Sleuth Box team would like every group to complete the room so no specific time limit is set… there isn’t even a timer in the room. The gamemaster keeps track on the outside and reveals your time when you escape. We initially thought that eliminating a countdown would also remove that fun sense of tension you feel when the clock starts to drop towards 0. Instead, we experienced a more pleasurable and less stressful game. We were there to have fun and solve the unique puzzles rather than racing against our nerves. Considering that there are virtually no repeatable escape rooms, it is nice to know that we would have the full experience without having to come back another day. About 25% of groups will finish in less than 60 minutes; 50% need about 75 minutes.
We began The Study with a very short backstory. It wasn’t necessary to know anything more, but a more in-depth storyline would have made the experience a bit more immersive. The room is well appointed and they’ve smartly kept the center of the space open for people to move around (a group larger than six people may find the quarters a bit tight). There were some untouchable furnishings which were boldly labeled as such and we wished the signs were a little less distracting. The game structure allows for a few different puzzles to be engaged simultaneously with some “busy work” to keep a larger group entertained. The challenges ranged from moderate to difficult and most groups will ask for a few hints along the way. There were some very unique solutions and keen perception is valuable for a faster escape. We found part of the gameplay to be tedious as a smaller group, but the gamemaster was aware of this and she offered to give us some simple directions if we became frustrated (this was merely to aid in discovery, not to help with solutions). Overall, we were highly satisfied with the conception, construction and presentation of the puzzles. [Note that while there isn’t anything scary about the room or the experience, there are a couple of surprises that may give you a jump.]
The Study is a extremely enjoyable and cleanly produced experience. Considering that this room has been in operation for over 1½ years, you’d be challenged to find anything that is worn down or overused. Sure, there are a couple of minor flaws here and there, but we had to be picky to find them. The owners take great care in upkeep. You’d also be challenged to find hiccups in the gameplay. They have actively removed any puzzles that were universally troubling and they’ve refined the other elements to make sure nothing is excessively difficult or confusing. With that said, I would not recommend this room as your first foray into the escape room genre unless you are playing with some veterans or you are ok with taking hints from the gamemaster.
The next time you find yourself vacationing in Arizona (or if you have a long layover at the nearby airport) we highly recommend you visit The Sleuth Box. It is a well-balanced, professionally-operated escape room that is both challenging and entertaining.