💪 Difficulty: 3/5, for age 8+.
⏲️ Time duration: 1 to 2 hours.
🔢 Capacity: 1 to 6 players.
💬 Hints: Hints & solution available below each puzzle. Click to reveal as needed.
🛒 If you PURCHASE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
MATTSTER'S REC 🙂
💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): 3 or 4/10 (team of 1). This family-oriented title isn't meant to be super difficult.
🔢 Ideal team size: 1 to 2 enthusiasts for quality puzzle-solving time. 4 or so for a Christmas celebration or just havin' fun!
A festive fun-filled online escape room for all the family to enjoy! It’s just before Christmas and one of the elves has stolen the Naughty and Nice list. You, as Saint Nick’s special detective task force, must follow the trail of gingerbread crumbs to solve the clues and work out which mischievous little elf took it before Santa leaves for Christmas Eve! Whoever did it is certainly going to end up on The Naughty List! The question is… who?
The Panic Room has published so many online escape game titles to date, it's super likely that they are the one company with the most available options you can readily purchase.
Now, this holiday special game, titled "CSI: Christmas Scene Investigation", does indeed share its name with the CSI series the company has been running. But don't be mistaken--this noel installment is most definitely not related, as the C in CSI stands for Christmas this time! There is no murder, no blood, no gore. Just some stolen naughty-or-nice lists.
As such, don't expect the game play, whether it be theme, style, artwork, or puzzle to be similar to the members of the CSI series. The closest example would probably be Mansion: Impossible, another offering aimed primarily at younger kids, family, and wholesome fun seekers. Difficulty is also understandably and intentionally lower.
Carol the Elf Queen | The Panic Room
The main objective of this online escape game isn't to escape at all. Rather, you aim to determine, through the process of deduction, who among the elves is the sneaky thief. Carol, an elf whose innocence is already in the clear due to a strong alibi, will assist your investigation by giving you testimonials she collects from other eyewitnesses.
Carol is perhaps the best part of this game. The actress dons a full Christmas helper costume, wears an extra voluminous orange wig, and speaks in an at times ridiculously dramatic voice--as an elf often does. Her over-the-top performance, composed of constantly changing facial expressions and her seemingly countless gestures, makes her the absolute star of the show. I therefore dedicate all of this review page's images to display the many, many, many faces of Carol.
In between your Carol encounters are, of course, the puzzles. Ciphers seem to be prominent; a rational choice, considering this puzzle variety is relatively easy to present through web media, and also commonly solvable for younger audience. There's also some logic stuff and code-breaking materials thrown in to round out the roster. It's pretty standard brainteaser contents, hence reasonably suitable casual customers.
I did find it amusing how elves of the 21st century now all communicate with each other through group text, and to incorporate such text screenshots as puzzle clues would probably relate with and delight the younger crowd effectively.
Each puzzle is also very purposefully and generally well themed to Christmas spirits and/or the elves' duties around the holidays. They don't necessarily interconnect with one another all the time, but since the overall narrative is mainly told through Carol's theatrics, the puzzles are more just fun activities to do in between to unlock her video clips.
Ahhhh! You steal the scene, Carol! | The Panic Room
The solution input system is the same as previous games: there is a text field input at the bottom, you type in an answer, hit submit, then you proceed to the next webpage if you're correct. However, one big improvement was made. The password no longer appears as asterisks, and with the input actually visible, players won't accidentally submit typos. Formatting of solutions is also standardized (e.g. ALL CAPS), thereby reducing error rate even further.
After you solving roughly 10 puzzles, you would've collected enough intel from Carol's cut-scenes to weed out all innocent bystanders from the suspect list: information such as hair, hat, and shoes color would tell you who's the culprit. Again, pretty standard stuff, though well-catered to the children who might be playing this game on Christmas day.
Visual-wise, I'm disappointed, unfortunately. The font face chosen is obviously intended to look fun, whimsical, and most importantly, festive. It does do all those things, but it's also harder to read. So between attractiveness and functionality, I prefer the latter. I also thought most of the clip art lacks a consistent style, therefore the game overall looks like a collection of random parts, rather than one coherent sum.
However, like mentioned, the puzzles do at least have a consistent and converging theme, and dependable Carol will appear every now and then to remind you that you're still playing the same game. Carol's game. In fact, I think we should just rename the game to "CSI: Carol Scene Investigation". Yeah, that's it!
CSI: Christmas Scene Investigation | The Panic Room
★ If the word "purple" doesn't seem to be a correct solution, try "violet". I know, they mean almost the same thing.
★ If you arrive at a roadBLOCK and get stuck at this particular puzzle, just spell it out. It's literally as simple as that!
READY FOR FUN?
"CSI: Christmas Scene Investigation" is available for purchase HERE.
If you PURCHASE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
Full disclosure: complimentary game access was generously provided for review or testing purposes. All media are sourced from and credited to rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended. In certain cases, media materials are made available under fair use doctrine of copyright law. TPRChristmas.