◣ GAME FACTS
🎮 Game: Houdini's Secret Room
💪 Difficulty: N/A
⏲️ Time: 45-60 Minutes
🧑 Capacity: 2 to 6 People Per Group
🏢 Company: Smart Play
🏘️ Location: Based in North Macedonia
◣ FORMAT SPECS
🕹️ Format: Print & Play Puzzle Game
✂️ Tools: Color Printer, A4 Papers, Glue, Scissors, Pencil, Stapler/Tape
💻 Platform: Web Browser (For Playing Along)
📰 Media Used: Print Media, Text, Images
◣ THE PREMISE
The 150-year-old house that belonged to the most famous illusionist Houdini is now a museum. You decide to go there and learn some of his greatest tricks and illusions. Walking around, your curiosity leads you to a secret room, one in which no one has set foot for over a century. As you enter the room, the door slams shut, leaving you locked inside while the walls start closing in slowly. On the table is Houdini’s testimony, which says: “You are the chosen one who managed to enter this secret room. Whoever finds a way to break out of it will have the privilege of becoming my heir.” The key, which unlocks the door, is hidden somewhere in the room. If you want to get out of this room, you need to get inside the mind of the greatest illusionist and start thinking like him. Can you escape and become the next Houdini?
• • • • •
◣ THE FEATURE
Meticulously designed, beautifully illustrated, thoughtfully with everything packaged: "Houdini's Secret Room" provides you with all the benefits of hosting an interactive escape party without any of the hard work!
Well, technically, maybe some color printing. But that's about it!
BE THE GAME HOST FOR ONCE
In the past few years, I've been an active participant of both physical and at-home escape games, and even becoming a blogger in the process. However, fulfilling the role of a host--hmm, that's a first.
Another first for EscapeMattster.com, "Houdini's Secret Room" is first "Print & Play" product featured on the blog, and it sets itself apart from other options in more ways than one. The most prominent difference, undoubtedly, is that the purchaser will most likely not be playing, but instead, moderating.
The pre-packaged bundle features 5 digital files: main game materials, set up guide, answer key, party invitations, and photo op posters. Everything you need in one easy package. (Friends to invite not included.) It couldn't get any easier.
However, if you prefer to play along, an alternative, no set up experience is also available.
QUITE THE WAGER AND THE LOOKER
The basic narrative is quite simple; it's a game mainly aimed at youngster after all. Inquisitive children discover a secret room once belonged to late magician, get locked in, and must find a key--and their inner Houdinis--in order to regain freedom. Innocent enough.
That is, until an unexpected twist of a warning at the final moment: failure to use the correct key will result in a speedy death by ruthless crushing of the room walls! WHOA! May I say, that escalated quickly?!
Houdini was a bit of a death-defying daredevil after all. Channel his spirit wisely.
Players will probably not even notice their potential mortal danger, however, because they'll rightfully be distracted by the dazzlingly gorgeous graphics!
If there is one thing that stole my attention and heart about "Houdini's", it's 100% the art.
Everything is original, no stock images utilized, and all is perfection. Though I don't personally know who's the artist responsible for pages upon pages of masterpieces, I give my utmost praise. Unique character style, adorable where applicable, and the colors so, so very vibrant.
In fact, the six in-game character cards are so attractively drawn, they potentially make beautiful posters with just minor tweaks. And trust me, that's really not a sentence I can confidently make about many games!
SHORT BUT SWEET
Once properly set up, a group of Houdini wannabes are expected to face challenges for up to 45-60 minutes, but factoring in my experience as an expert escape room player, my game duration understandably ran on the lower end.
Strictly speaking, the overall journey is composed of 3 main interactive, multi-step puzzles, and each step realistically takes around 10-15 minutes to complete, depending on one's dexterity for arts and craft. For instance, my clumsy fingers continued their lifelong struggles with a pair of scissors, but this hands-on segment made "Houdini's" more immersive.
The critic in me wished there were more than 3 main puzzles to solve, but he also took note of just how carefully written and how expertly executed the puzzles were. Not to mention, a good variety of formats, too. One may say, the game's going for quality, not quantity.
I applaud the artist for sneakily hiding little details essential to solving the puzzles, all cleverly and organically embedded within the context of the art. (Hello, rose tattoo?! Brilliant!) I also relish their choice for spreading the clues out physically over different game components, thereby slightly but effectively increasing the challenge difficulty.
Note to American audience: be sure to print puzzle pages out according to directions, preferably on A4 papers. Otherwise, some placement based step(s) may not work.
MAKE IT YOUR WAY
Though intentionally skewed for younger audience, "Houdini's" print & play still offers a value and superb quality that I, as an adult (and a kid at heart), can recognize. With explicit creators' permission for you to print as many copies as you like, and to share with your closest friends and family, "Houdini's Secret Room" is a worthy buy. (See restrictions in FAQ.)
With a bit of creativity and all the flexibility at your disposal, awesome parents, cool uncles, and boss teachers, why not use this prepackaged deal as a base, borrow a few suggestions here and here, and conjure up a magical party like no other?
Or just set the game up, pour yourself a glass of Pinot Grigio, sit back, grin, and watch 'em little ones struggle. Provide help at your discretion. I'm not the boss of you. You got your personal style, and you have fun your own way.
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⤻ Though game access was complimentary, this article was written basing on unbiased and genuine opinions.
⤻ All media credited to and used with permission from contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ Houdini's Secret Room • "SPHoudini"