Why should kids have all the fun?
When the Escapewelt team reached out to us with an offer to review one of their puzzle boxes for adults, to say I, a puzzle enthusiast, was excited is an understatement.
Founded in 2020, Escape Welt is an escape room company based in Leipzig, Germany. As the Covid-19 pandemic has made it unsafe to visit quest rooms, co-Founders Egor Volvitch and Ilya Konotopchenko decided to diversify the way they reach their clients. They began to produce handmade, eco-friendly puzzles that “reflect real scenarios from the quest rooms”. So far, Escape Welt has sold 200 thousand individual puzzles all around the world.
In this article, we will be reviewing the House of the Dragon puzzle, which is one of the newest 3D puzzle additions to their catalog.
Unboxing the puzzle
The puzzle box itself is a thing of beauty. The design is based on the silhouette of traditional Japanese architecture and is interlinked with the folklore of dragons being benevolent entities. The box is made out of 100% birchwood with fine, laser-cut motifs of cherry blossoms, sun rays, the ever-recognizable Mount Fuji and delicate traditional patterns.
One might be tempted to put it up as a display piece and, in my opinion, it would do the spot justice. The box comes with a catalog of puzzles that the company sells; a message stating that the puzzle is handmade; a QR code to download the mobile game Quest Puzzle by Escape Welt; and a short storyline around the puzzle—kind of reminded me of the introductory cut scene from a video game.
A fun and exciting challenge for me and my family
House of the Dragon is a 4/5 difficulty level puzzle (because why go easy on me, right?) and is appropriate for individuals aged 14 and up. The suggested average playtime is 60-90 minutes.
The puzzle is sequential in nature, with the objective of opening the doors of the house and reaching the “heart of the dragon”, which is in a secret compartment.
Admittedly, it took yours truly (within the 18-25 age group) about two hours to complete.
It was an engaging experience to continuously turn the puzzle up and down, side to side, in the hope of locating my next clue. It also granted me some bonding time with my younger brother, who, also intrigued by the puzzle, offered possible suggestions from the sidelines while getting his own work done.
Looking to get the opinions of a slightly wider demographic, I asked my dad, who is an avid puzzler in the 40-55 age group, to give it a go. It took him about one hour and fifteen minutes over the course of two days to solve the puzzle. He said that it was a refreshing change to have a physical manifestation of the puzzle to solve, as opposed to the wide array of mobile games most adults are familiar with.
What I like about House of the Dragon
- The puzzle reached me in excellent condition, and I was quite happy to note that there was little to no use of plastic in the packaging.
- The puzzle itself is very well-made and aesthetically pleasing. It is assembled entirely by hand with interlocking wood pieces.
- It has a nice weight to it, neither too light nor too heavy, and feels comfortable to hold. Similar wooden puzzles have a tendency to be a bit heavier, which might make them difficult to maneuver for some individuals.
- The mechanisms involved in the workings of the puzzle are sophisticated and well-designed.
- There’s no time limit involved. One can leave or get back to the puzzle anytime they want.
- The puzzle is sequential in nature. As such, it keeps the player consistently involved, making connections and correlations between various parts.
- The secret compartment inside the puzzle can also be used to keep a small present. If one wishes to use the puzzle as a gift box, they can scan the QR code on the narrative card to get a step-by-step on how to open the box.
What the puzzles can improve on
- The puzzle is very delicate. Although I was extremely careful, my nails, though short, did show slight signs of wear on the soft birchwood while solving the puzzle.
- To align with the company’s initiative of being eco-friendly, the entire puzzle is unvarnished. However, that, combined with the delicate nature of the wood, leads to a notable amount of splintering on edges and moving pieces. While the wood appears too soft for a splinter to pierce through the skin, I was concerned that the splintering may affect the shape and fit of pieces as they continue to experience wear and tear.
- In the first couple of attempts, I found some of the pieces to be a bit difficult to remove as they were wedged into place too tightly. I would recommend exercising caution and taking the aid of tools, like tweezers, to ease the pieces out. However, solving and re-assembling the puzzle a few times solves this issue.
- A few pieces of the sequence have a tendency of getting jammed.
- The font used on the puzzle to match the oriental style could use some changes. It makes a few letters difficult to recognize, which in turn makes some associations necessary to solve the puzzle difficult to reach.
Overall, my experience with the product was a positive one. I enjoyed racking my brains and experiencing the joy that comes with unraveling a particularly tricky riddle. It is something I would definitely recommend to fellow puzzle enthusiasts.
It is about time that cool toys aren’t just for kids!
Banner image courtesy of Escape Welt