Updated: 7 days ago
Videos/ Photos provided by BlueMatter Games & ThinkFun
Company: BlueMatter Games Manufactured by ThinkFun
Country: USA 🇺🇸
Type of Game: Puzzles By Mail
Date Played: 9/29/2020
Difficulty (based on 2 players): 5/10
Size of Team: 3-8 Players
Time: 90 Minutes (Approximately)
The Stargazer's manor is where the town's well-respected astronomer Richard Harrison and his wife lived. After his wife's passing, the astronomer became very strange. He fired everyone, even his trusted caretaker! After awhile, neighbors started to complain about the noise and smoke that's coming out of his house. The caretaker decided to gather a group of brave souls to venture inside and check on Mr. Harrison's well being...
The game box had a pretty graphic drawing of the group of brave souls about to enter a creepy manor. Inside, the game pieces were nicely protected with cardboard frames. The contents included an instruction manual, scene card 1, 5 sealed envelopes with secret items (The Filing Cabinet, The Telescope, The Dressing Table, The Bookcase, and The Door) and a solution wheel. Most of the items were made with high quality thick cardboard that felt like it would last for many game plays since the game is designed to be replayable.
The Game Play
Although the recommended number of players is 3-8, we had no issues playing as a team of two (or you can even attempted as a solo player). There are no puzzles that actually require a collaboration effort. However, if you want to host a party, the game does provide an invitation that you will be able to customize. There's also a music list for you to set the mood of the game. A website link with hint system and reassembling instructions was also given.
Throughout the game, you'll encounter scene cards. These are cards that'll give you a back story to set the scene for the room you just arrived in. As we started our timer (of course you can play this in leisure mode), a simple puzzle was given to us merely to teach us on how to use the solution wheel. That was quite helpful as the entire game was based on this method to check for solutions. If we were correct, two matching symbols would show up in the solution wheel and then we would be allowed to venture onwards (by opening up the next envelope). If you have played Thames & Kosmos's "Exit The Game" series before, this type of set up might seem familiar. Right when we thought we had solved the final puzzle, a surprise was thrown at us. I quite enjoyed the multiple ending and being able to chose our own adventure. It also raised our curiosity. I'm sure almost everyone would open up all the choices at the end just to check for "what ifs".
BlueMatter Games really had escape rooms in their mind when designing these games. We felt many puzzles revolved around searching, pattern/color recognition, and association of clues. They also loved using methods like assembling or crafting. We quite enjoyed those puzzles as they reminded us of physical puzzles in an escape room. There weren't too many difficult logic puzzles as I'm sure the designers had the general public type of players in mind.
Even though we've played many types of tabletop games so far, we still have a bit more favoritism towards escape room typed ones. BlueMatter Games did a great job at being able to create that escape room feeling of going room to room (and sometimes even hidden places) and exploring with the items found in the different locations. Moreover, the narrative component that accompanied every room definitely helped to paint a more vivid picture in our minds. For enthusiasts, you might find yourself finishing this game quite quickly but at the same time feeling content about your accomplishment. If you are still feeling that itch after completing the game, there are two more waiting for you (Secret of Dr. Gravely's Retreat and The Cursed Dollhouse)!
(If you do decide to try this game, please remember to let them know that you heard it from"ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)
Disclosure: We thank BlueMatter Games & ThinkFun for providing us with a sample of their game. Although a complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.