John from Clever Kids Mysteries (CKM) contacted me to see if I’d be interested in taking a look at one of their games. I took a look at the website and saw things I liked: puzzle games, geared toward kids but fun for adults, a game with a museum theme. John sent me a copy of Mystery at the Lux Museum just in time for a visit from my niece. Even our cat, Bacchus, wanted to get in on the fun.
On the CKM website, they list five sources of inspiration for their games:
- Scooby Doo (cartoon)
- Hardy Boys (book series)
- King’s Quest (PC game)
- Family board game nights
- Escape rooms
So, how well did our experience match the expectations? Very well!
When I opened the box, the first thing I saw was a scroll tied with twine. Excitement! There was a letter for parents/adults playing the game with kids that explained how to get started and provided the URL for the website where we could check our answers. There was a hint sheet, in case we needed a clue boost. There was a museum guide pamphlet, cipher wheels, museum blueprints, photos of museum displays, and a few other pieces. We needed to have scissors, a flashlight, tape, a pencil/pen, and an internet connected device on hand.
First impressions are everything and when I showed my 11-year-old niece the contents of the box and asked her if she wanted to play, she said, “Yes! This looks so cool!”
My niece can be a reluctant reader at times, so we’re always looking for fun ways to get her into reading. When we started playing, she handed me the starting piece for the game: a letter from the kids in the story who need help solving a mystery. I have her a knowing look and a smile and then she started reading out loud for us (my husband, Greg, was also playing with us). Once she got into the letter, the rest of the reading throughout the game was easy sailing – she was excited to see what puzzles came next and eager to get them solved. She looks so focused, but she is also having a blast!
One of her favorite things about the game was that some of the puzzles required physical manipulation of some kind. One puzzle required scissors and another required a flashlight. I am not going to share a photo of the flashlight in action, because SPOILERS!, but here’s a shot of her cutting pieces for one of the puzzles: [Also, you can tell between the sunny photo above and the dark photo below that our afternoon quickly got stormy and this was a great activity for that!]
There were eight puzzles that ultimately lead to a ninth, final puzzle. Total play time for us was about 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace. The puzzles were just the right amount of challenge for our niece – some math, spatial reasoning, deduction, and language pattern recognition. The puzzles varied in difficultly and no two puzzles were solved the same way. The art was fun and cartoony, which my niece loved. It was clear via the story and puzzle prompts when the various pieces of the game needed to be used.
After we finished the game, I asked my niece the following questions:
- Did you have fun? Yes!
- Would you play a game like this again? Definitely.
- Which puzzle was your favorite? The word symbol one! (A cryptogram.)
- What did you think of the art? It was colorful and fun!
- Is there anything that you did NOT like? No, it was all fun!
So, there you have it! We all had fun. There was variety throughout the game. We did not feel like we needed an FAQ to figure things out. The play time was good – not so long that she lost interest and not a ten minute dud. I received a complimentary copy of this game, but the price point isn’t bad at all: $10. I think younger kids would enjoy this as well – some might need a bit more guidance, but it certainly works as a family game for a wide variety of ages and with the variance in puzzle difficultly, there is a chance for everyone to shine. It’s a thumbs up from us!
For more information, head over to the Clever Kids Mysteries website.