Seas The Day
“It’s a relief to get out of that damned old house” blustered Colonel Mustard. “Yes a sea voyage will be quite refreshing” concurred the Reverend Green. “Especially on a luxury yacht” proferred Professor Plum. “And with my old friend Captain Melville at the helm we should have a whale of a time!” cooed Miss Scarlett. “It’s a shame that Mrs. White couldn’t join us” declaimed Mrs. Peacock, “but someone’s got to stay back and cook the meals. I see her place has been taken by a younger woman, Dr. Orchid. Typical!”
And so might start our latest adventure of the intrepid sleuths of Cluedo. Freed from the groundhog-day like repetition of endles murders in Tudor Close they have been invited for a stay on the luxury yacht Lady Marigold II. A refreshing maritime meander, a bit of serious gambling in the top-level casino and, yes inevitably, a murder to solve!
Cluedo Escape - Sabotage on the High Seas, unlike its’ venerable parent, is a one shot game both a co-operative escape room puzzle and a co-op, or otherwise as you choose, murder mystery. Oh and by the way it doesn’t really involve sabotage but that doesn’t matter.
There is a well-written and engaging narrative that takes our protagonists from serenly, sipping cocktails around the pool in the starlight lounge through a series of exciting escapades to the dramatic denouement where they must solve the case.
Players are represented on board the boat by their usual coloured playing pieces. These are moved to locations where a numbered clue is displayed. There is a turn sequence where you can move your piece to a location and read out the clue to the group as a whole. Frankly, as this is a co-operative game, the whole playing piece and turn sequence mechanic is superfluous and just a nod to the original Cluedo. In practice you can just choose as a group which clue to read next and get on with it!
This being an escape room game I must take care not to reveal any of the mysteries you will uncover. Suffice to say I’ll concentrate on the production values and the mechanics of the process which are both excellent in my opinion.
A game of Cluedo Escape is driven by 6 decks of cards. The first of these is an 11 card tutorial deck which gets you used to the process. This is followed by 5 main decks of another 120 cards. The cards are numbered and colour coded to their decks. All the cards are used and you will use all the cards in one deck before you progress to another.
Most of the cards are Narrative cards that move the story along at a tidy pace. Next there are Puzzle cards. You usually have to collect several of these as annotated on the cards themselves to solve a puzzle. The answers to all the puzzles are a number. This is the number of another card you should draw. The puzzles are fairly straightforward but there is a comprehensive Hints section at the back of the rules if you get stuck.
Occasionally you will get Item cards. These have a series of six boxes, three of which contain Roman numerals, along their top and bottom edge. These can be aligned in either orientation with a Puzzle card that says it requires a “?” to solve. These are quite fun to use.
Finally there are Clue cards. These don’t help with your escape but are there to aid in solving the final mystery. They are usually accompanied by one of the characters making a statement about themselves. Each character has one statement to make.
Some cards are Overlay cards. These change the layout of the part of the ship you are on. During the game new levels and areas of the yacht will be set out and put on top of the existing levels to offer new locations to search for clues. Overlay cards are a smaller version of this.
Mystery Of The Deep
Cluedo Escape - Sabotage on the High Seas thus continues to move along from area to area and, literally, from deck to deck uncovering clues and solving puzzles. The puzzles are not particularly taxing and I would suggest the difficulty level is more like 1 than 2, even for the 10+ age group for which it is suited. I did get very engaged with the story line however. The Narrative cards are well-written and there are often asides that suggest you do relevant actions or make noises at the appropriate times. There are also a few sections where you have to hold your breath whilst solving a puzzle. Why? Well that would be telling! But it all helps to add to the tension.
When it is all over and you have finally escaped (Yes you will all escape!) you then have one more thing to do: Solve the Murder! You must decide collectively – or individually if you want to make it competitive – who did it, where and why. You then check the secret solution and either smugly self-congratulate or check the details to see where you went wrong. There are two narratives to read depending on whether you got it right or not and an overall deeper description of the whole act.
Just One More Thing
Cluedo Escape - Sabotage on the High Seas is a well-produced, well done escape game. It does exactly what it says on the box (except for the sabotage!) I’d thoroughly recommend it for those who are looking to get into escape games for the first time. It would be very good for families or maybe as an after dinner game. The 90 min timescale is reasonable. The murder mystery part is average but acceptable.
Given my parsimonious nature, I have a bias against one-shot games, though, in reality, many excellent games in my collection I have only ever played once and some, whisper it quietly, I’ve never got around to playing at all! Unlike some of its’ competitors the game does not destruct itself in playing and you can re-construct the decks for someone else to play.
So try it after dinner it’s only the same price as a good bottle of wine.