Escape the Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat is Thinkfun’s second and latest entry in their “Escape the Room” series of games. It follows the same mechanics as the earlier game but is a general improvement in terms of overall difficulty and satisfaction.
- Product: Escape the Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat by Thinkfun
- Price: $21.99 on Amazon
- Team size: Officially 3-8, but we recommend 2-3.
- Duration: Officially 90 minutes. We took ~60 minutes as a group of 2.
- Age Range: ThinkFun recommends 13+
Story and Theme
You and your friends win a free stay at Foxcrest Retreat, where the esteemed Dr. Gravely promises the best in spa treatments and rest. However, upon arriving at Foxcrest Retreat, you quickly notice that something is amiss. You must discover the dark secrets and escape the room before time runs out.
The story is a little bit more mature than the previous story from Escape from the Stargazer’s Manor and contains a tiny amount of horror themes. However, there’s nothing too bad at all (definitely no violence or gore) and this game should still be appropriate for kids (ThinkFun recommends 13+).
The story is told through a series of scene cards that you will find as you progressively solve more puzzles. The puzzles are generally themed around the story, which we thought was nice.
You’ll find the following inside of your box:
- (1) Scene 1 story card that starts the story and the game. The rest of the story cards are hidden inside of the puzzle envelopes
- (1) Solution Wheel that will check if your answer is correct
- (1) Instruction booklet that will introduce you to the game and how to set it up.
- (4) Puzzle envelopes that contain secret puzzles materials and more story cards.
As usual, the game comes assembled and ready to play out of the box, although it’s helpful for the host to read the instruction booklet first. Again, ThinkFun recommends mood music and costume suggestions on their website which we think is a bit unnecessary for adults but could be great with kids.
We found the puzzles in Dr Gravely’s Retreat more difficult and satisfying than the puzzles from their previous game. It took us as a team of 2 a healthy ~60 minutes to go through all of the puzzles in Secret of Dr Gravely’s Retreat, in contrast to the 37 minutes we needed for Mystery of the Stargazer’s Manor. The puzzles also had a more variety than the puzzles in Stargazer’s Manor.
The puzzles are constructed very well and I was impressed by the quality of the materials. These are not puzzles printed on rectangular sheets of paper – instead they come in a huge variety of shapes and are printed on good quality cardstock or heavy-duty paper.
We’d recommend this game for a group of 2-3 (in contrast to the 3-8 that ThinkFun officially recommends). We don’t recommend 1, as there are actually more opportunities to get stuck in this this game. 4 is a little too much again for escape room enthusiasts (unless you’re playing as a family with kids), since some of the puzzles can only be done by one person at a time, which means some waiting around or passing around of a puzzle until one person solves it.
Secret of Dr Gravely’s Retreat has no replay value – once you’ve solved of the puzzles and played through the stories, there’s no point in playing it again.
However, none of the puzzle materials will be destroyed / written on during the course of the game, so you can reassemble all of the game materials and give it to a friend to play.
Theoretically, the game can be reassembled and replayed an unlimited number of times, but a few of the puzzles may see dramatic wear and tear, so may only last a few plays. This is in contrast to their previous game, whose puzzles will see much less wear and tear.
We enjoyed Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat more than we did Mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor. The puzzles were more difficult and varied, players had more opportunities to get stuck, and the story was more satisfying.
The main issue with this game (that wasn’t present in the earlier game) was the certain puzzles in this set can only be done by one person at a time, which everyone else watches and waits. This is fine for 2 people and maybe ok with 3 people, but will make playing with a group of 4 or more occasionally dull.
Thinkfun’s Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat is a fun product and a really good value for ~$22. The quality of the materials is high and this is a great, lower-budget way to enjoy an “escape room”-ish experience at home. This is again especially appropriate for families with young children, or couples who enjoy escape rooms and puzzles.
If you’re interested in the product, you can purchase it on Amazon for $21.99.
Full Disclosure: ThinkFun provided us with a free sample of the product in exchange for a review. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission from any purchases made from the links.