#821 – The Interrogation of Alice [Spoiler-Free]

Base price: $122.
2+ players. Probably made for two, given portioning.
Play time: 90 – 120 minutes.
Buy directly!
Logged plays: 1 

Full disclosure: A review copy of The Interrogation of Alice was provided by Nordo’s Room Service. Photography courtesy of Nordo’s Room Service, as well.

The nice thing about reviewing a bunch of escape room / mystery box games is that you sometimes get to try additional new ones, like what we’re covering today: The Interrogation of Alice, from Nordo’s Room Service. These boxes are a bit more luxe than what we usually cover here at What’s Eric Playing?, and you might notice as a result this is a fairly photo-light review. There’s a lot to discover in the box, and I think it’s more fun if you get to dig through and find what’s in it without me spoiling stuff. So there’s that. Also, we ate all the food that came with it pretty quickly, so, beyond the puzzles themselves, there’s not much to photograph. Them’s the breaks, sometimes. If you’re wondering, the game comes in a fairly nondescript shipping box, so I’m relying on their photos to illustrate the components and such. Anyways, let’s get into the review.

In The Interrogation of Alice, you and a partner (or more, if you can be convinced to share the snacks) have taken on the mysterious case of Alice, who has come through the looking glass and has really shaken things up. Or, rather, will have shaken things up. They’ve managed to arrest her before the crime that she will ultimately commit, and they’re looking to you to prove it. You’ve got all the documents — the who, the what, even the later when. But proving the case is going to be more complex than it first appears, especially since time seems to be both of the essence and behaving a little strangely. Will you be able to crack the case?

Contents

Setup

Thankfully, this is a pretty low-lift game to set up. You’ll definitely need a computer, not a phone, though! There’s an envelope that gives you your starting instructions (and tells you to refrigerate some components if you’re not going to play immediately), so make sure you read through that.

Once you’re ready to start, follow those instructions! Also have some table space available; you’ll be spreading out a bit. There’s also a snack component, so you should get the snacks and drinks set up first, as well, so you can enjoy them while you play.

Gameplay

So as I mentioned, in The Interrogation of Alice, you play as Somebody, hired to prove that Alice will ultimately commit some crimes against the Red Queen so that the conviction and sentencing are ultimately intact. You’ve got to love a closed loop of a trial. To do so, you’ll have to untangle the past, present, and future through a variety of puzzles and challenges.

Most puzzles are accompanied by a video segment on the website. Once the video has completed, click the white rabbit to follow to the next page. Usually there will be a prompt or puzzle on the subsequent page (or occasionally another video) that you need to solve to progress. As you do, you’ll dive deeper into the mystery, opening additional exhibits and getting new puzzles to solve.

Once you’ve solved the mystery completely, you’re done!

Player Count Differences

The game is pretty explicitly geared for two, but given that there were snacks involved, it would have been kind of rude to not include my housemate, so we played with three. This was generally fine, though there were times where there wasn’t really enough for three people to explicitly do, which makes sense; we were playing with more players than the game is geared to support, essentially. That said, I think two players is pretty ideal. There are puzzles that benefit from having someone essentially dictate to someone else and puzzles where the work can be pretty easily split between a few people. I suppose you could play with four players, but then you’re really rationing the snacks in a way that I don’t think was intended. Live your best life, I guess. My verdict still comes in at two players being ideal, but I think the game / marketing / materials make that clear from the outset, as well, so it’s not exactly a surprise.

Strategy

Always a section I hesitate on in the interest of not giving up any spoilers, so I’ll just give you some light advice.

  • The game is generally pretty explicit about its instructions. Follow them. One less strategy-related one is that you should definitely prep the food before diving fully into the case. The game will tell you roughly when that time is, and it’s worth doing that so you have the right accompaniment for your gameplay experience.
  • The videos tend to set up the plot more than provide explicit instructions, so don’t feel the need to take notes or anything like that. The video segments connect the dots of what’s happening with Alice, but the most they’ll do in terms of puzzles is guide you to what you should open next. The actual question page will tell you what you need to know in order to progress past that point.
  • If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, make sure you’ve advanced the site all the way to the next available question. It should pretty explicitly be looking for a password of some kind. This is the thing I missed a few times! I would leave the video on its page and stay there, rather than clicking the white rabbit to move on and then I wouldn’t know exactly what I was looking for. The game will again, be pretty upfront about the exact question you have to answer, and you won’t be able to advance past that point without providing it. There are a few where you could probably guess the right answer, but you’ll know what those prompts are and you should actually solve the puzzle instead of clicking on things at random.
  • If you’re stuck, look for hints to the puzzle on the question page. There’s a “?” button that you can click for hints to the puzzle (and ultimately, the solution), so make sure you use that if you get stuck. The game isn’t keeping track of how many you use or what your score is, so there’s really no downside.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • So this game comes with some food and drink options. Straight-up, whoever picked the menu for this game did an incredible job. They’re impeccable. Professionally crafted. Just fantastic snacks. Really, an A+. Like they’re the best part of the box not because other things in there are bad, but because they are very good. I’m not really a food / drink reviewer, so I lack the vocabulary to describe why I think they were so good, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
  • A lot of the bottles and such that arrived seem to be reusable, which I also appreciated. They’re a cute size, so I think I can use them for other things like simple syrups or various spices / et cetera that we keep around the house, so I’m excited about that. I generally love reusable components in games, and having bottles and such that we can wash and use after the fact is also a nice touch.
  • It’s also a pleasant ambiance for a two-player evening (though we played it with three). The site has music and between music, snacks, videos, and puzzles, you’ve got a pretty successful recipe for a pleasant evening in.
  • Some very fun puzzles! I tend to like word puzzles, and there are a number of solid ones in this pack, as well!
  • I also liked the original presentation. The whole box has an arrangement to it and an ordering that comes off as a very nice midpoint between “puzzle box” and “date night box” and I think that’s going to resonate a lot with some of the folks that order it.
  • Hints are always good for a puzzle box game. The hint system is pretty decent; I wouldn’t say it’s as in-depth as some of the PostCurious games I’ve played, for example, but it helped us a few times when we got stuck.
  • In general, super high-quality components, as well. I really like the EXIT games, but their component quality is pretty consistently just okay. Here, we’ve got full dossiers, puzzles, sheet music, the whole thing. There was a lot of care put into preparing these components and it makes the puzzle experience stronger.

Mehs

  • There’s a note that comes included with the box. Read it immediately, as soon as you get it. The note describes a few things about how the game works and is played, but it more importantly describes some immediate steps you should take if you can’t play the game straight away, mostly around refrigerating some components and where to set some other pieces. Make sure that you do that.
  • Kind of an amusing thing: one of the papers had a faint imprint of the various Pennsylvania locations of a physical therapy service? Not sure what happened there, but it was like a weird echo of a previous print job. It almost seems like the paper got made that way or something? It just amused us.
  • Some UI improvements would help, especially early on as players are getting used to the site. I didn’t immediately understand that you were supposed to click the white rabbit to advance until there was a puzzle; I kind of expected the site to auto-load the next page. That’s a bit of a UI mistake on my part, for sure, but it could be made more clear in the video that you need to click the rabbit to advance to the puzzle so that players don’t sit there for a couple minutes.
  • You’re ultimately going to have to decide for yourself if the cost is something you’re willing to take on for the game. This is something I generally try to avoid when I’m talking about board games I received as review mostly because I think the “how much is a game worth” argument is extremely uninteresting when you didn’t pay for the game yourself, and it often ignores the realities of shipping, manufacturing, design, logistics, wages, et cetera. This box costs $122, and that’s going to freely be outside of some folks’ price range for a one-time evening experience. Just worth mentioning more explicitly here, since that’s higher than the standard range of board games I tend to review.
  • Our Exhibit C didn’t totally survive shipping. Honestly, after the absolutely nightmare that has been trying to get anything from FedEx for the last several months, I’m not blaming Nordo for this one. I have to assume I’m on a list somewhere with FedEx at this point and they just drop whatever they’re shipping me at least once for kicks.

Cons

  • The general issue I have with a lot of super-thematic escape room / mystery box-style things is that occasionally there’s so much theme that some of the puzzle answers can be a bit easy to … guess. As an example, I once did an Alice in Wonderland-themed escape room a few towns over. My team was struggling on a puzzle that would produce a three-letter clue that needed to be entered into a combination lock. I, eager to move along, tried “MAD” and it immediately unlocked. I’m sure there was another process, but honestly, if you’re doing an Alice in Wonderland puzzle and the answer is three letters, it’s MAD, HAT, TEA, or CAT most of the time. Nothing here is as egregious as that example, but we did have a situation in which finishing the puzzle wasn’t particularly useful because we already got enough to guess the solution. Having combination lock systems tend to solve that problem a bit better.
  • Honestly, we struggled to understand the narrative through-line of the game. I think that might just be the fundamentally disconnected nature of a Through the Looking Glass-themed game, especially one that deals with a current trial of a future crime, but it was something that we felt like we weren’t fully understanding at the level that the game wanted us to understand it. That happens, sometimes, but we were a tiny bit bummed about it.
  • Captioning the videos would have helped, as well. If you’ve got videos with your stuff, caption it. That’s just a general accessibility recommendation. It also helps me, since I can then align what I’m hearing with what the text is. I tend to remember it better, which might have helped us better track the narrative.

Overall: 7.25 / 10

Overall, my group enjoyed The Interrogation of Alice! I will definitely say that the experience is optimized for two players, so if you’re looking for a date night or a one-on-one occasion or you just don’t want to share the included snacks and drinks as much as we did, I get that. Hell, you could probably play this solo and just down all the ingredients yourself and I’d have pretty much no choice but to respect that. You do you. I will freely admit that Alice-themed stuff is generally not my favorite, but I think the experience was still enjoyable and authentic in a dinner-theater-turned-escape-room way, which was fun. I’d be interested to compare this to other puzzle boxes that they do to see how they differ. I felt like there was the occasional puzzle that relied on the theme to its own detriment, for instance, making the solution easy to guess. I also worry that the narrative was convoluted, but I think that was more due to the theme than anything else. But the puzzles were solid, the hint system was practical and enjoyable, and the snacks / drinks that were included were an absolute delight. The perfect accompaniment to a puzzle experience. You won’t see stuff like that in other escape room games, but that’s also likely why an EXIT game costs $15 and this does not. Nice components, good puzzles, solid game overall. If you’re looking for that kind of deluxe experience, I think The Interrogation of Alice is a fun one to try! My group certainly liked it.


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