January is National Puzzle month, so we’re celebrating by combining as many types of puzzles as possible. How, you may ask yourself, is it possible to combine puzzles? Well, Ravensburger has done a brilliant job with their Escape Puzzle series, combining jigsaw puzzles with escape room game play. If you’ve never played an escape room, it’s a themed room with logic puzzles that must be solved in the proper sequence so that you can find the key to escape the room. Most escape room locations have several rooms with different themes and different levels of difficulty.
Escape room game play has expanded to include home options – essentially board games that are the escape room and you must solve the puzzles in the correct order to win (escape). Now, Ravensburger has expanded the game play to include jigsaw puzzling, as well! For National Puzzle Month, I played “The Witches Kitchen.”
Ravensburger’s The Witches Kitchen Escape Puzzle is great fun, but what’s in the box? The jigsaw puzzle pieces, a leaflet (really just a single page of story and instruction in several languages), and a plain, white, sealed envelope. It is extremely important to read the leaflet first! I don’t usually, but because I knew I would be reviewing the puzzle/game, I did. I’m glad I did, too, because the most important piece of information is that the picture on the box does not match the final puzzle picture! I would have figured it out eventually, but if I didn’t know that going into it, I’d have been mighty frustrated trying to solve the jigsaw puzzle. The picture is nearly the same, but there are significant differences that might delay the ultimate solving if you’re not aware that it won’t be the same. The key difference is that the escape room puzzles that appear once the jigsaw puzzle has been solved do not appear on the box, for obvious reasons.
Another good reason to read the leaflet first is that there is a set of rectangular pieces. True confession: I did not read the leaflet as soon as I opened the box. I sorted the puzzle pieces first and genuinely puzzled over the rectangular pieces until I found the note to discard them. I think they’re the outer edge of the puzzle that gets cut away when the picture gets jigsawed.
How to solve a Ravensburger Escape Puzzle:
First, put the jigsaw puzzle together. There are many different ways to solve a jigsaw puzzle, but I usually sort the pieces, put the edges together, then start building the picture by solving different bits of the overall picture. In this case, there is a fireplace, sets of shelves, jars, a stool, a chest, etc. When I’m trying to solve a picture quickly, I try to match the pieces to the general location on the picture, too, though that wasn’t easy with this jigsaw puzzle. Any pieces I’m not sure about go outside the frame. Then, I solve. I don’t see a difficulty rating on the box, but I would put it at moderate. In addition to not having the exact picture, the color variations are similar enough that I had to reset pieces around the edge multiple times, because I’d gotten them wrong.
Second, examine the revealed picture (no, we’re not sharing a photo of it – solve it yourself) to find the escape room puzzles (the leaflet tells you how many there are, but not where). If you’re an escape room fan, they’ll be pretty obvious, but you can always check the box to see where the differences are. There is also a QR code in the leaflet that directs you to a help page. You choose the different options that get you to the puzzle you’re solving, and you see the image in black and white with the escape room puzzles highlighted. Each puzzle is then shown separately with two hint options and a solution.
Third, once you’ve solved the escape room puzzles, you have to solve the final puzzle to escape (in this case) The Witches Kitchen. There is no help for this one. You not only have to figure out what the final puzzle is, but you then have to solve it without hints or tips. Which takes us to the plain, white, sealed envelope. This envelope holds the solution to the puzzle. After I’d solved the escape room puzzles on the jigsaw picture, I double-checked my solutions with the QR code to make sure I wouldn’t have difficulty solving the puzzle. Detecting the final puzzle wasn’t difficult, but the ultimate solution wasn’t as easy as I’d expected.
With all these puzzles in puzzles on a puzzle, you can see why this was a great way to celebrate National Puzzle Month. We started with a jigsaw, solved some logic puzzles (pen and paper required for me, so maybe have some handy), and then did some detection to find the final puzzle to solve. I did this solo, but it would be a great family activity, too. The box is marked 12+ for age recommendations and, given the relative difficulty of the escape room puzzles and the size of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, that’s good advice. If you like challenging jigsaw puzzles but don’t care about or care for logic puzzles, this is still a good option, because the puzzle is challenging and the picture is detailed and charming, and you can just ignore the escape room part of it.
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