Do you have a curious nature? A need to solve puzzles and mysteries? Yes? Well then, are you ready to delve into the mysterious and puzzling world of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat? If you’re a fan of brain teasers, riddles, and the thrill and excitement of escape rooms, then you are in for a treat with ThinkFun’s “Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat”, an at home escape room game.

Escape the Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat is the second game in ThinkFun’s escape the room puzzle range (the first being Stargazer’s Manor). It is a puzzling immersive experience game for 3-8 players, age 13 upwards with a game time of around 90-120 minutes collaborative puzzle-solving fun (this will depend on the path you take to complete the puzzle).

In the box:

  • Instruction Manual
  • Scene Card: Arrival
  • 4 Sealed Envelopes (The Desk, The Safe, The Alcove, The Laboratory Door)
  • Secret Items (hidden within the sealed envelopes)
  • Solution Wheel
Dr. Gravely’s Retreat

So, let’s set the scene: we are going back in time to the year 1913, and you’ve just won an all-expense-paid trip to the luxurious Foxcrest Retreat. Sounds dreamy, right? Well, hold onto your monocle, because things are about to get a tad more… perplexing. Upon arrival, you and your fellow guests quickly realise that this retreat offers more than just spa treatments and relaxation; there’s a secret lurking behind its doors, and it’s up to you to uncover it.

To get you and you fellow puzzlers in the mood to solve the secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat and make it much more of an eventful experience, you begin a few days before by sending creepy invitations to your fellow players, and there are even suggestions of items of clothing and accessories to wear as well as mood music to set the scene to really immerse yourself in the experience. From the ThinkFun website you can create and customise the invitations, adding guests name (your fellow players), event date and time, location and even have the invitations emailed (as well as being able to download and print or email it yourself).

Dr. Gravely’s Retreat

With the invitations sent, dust off your best 1913 attire, put on some atmospheric tunes, and get ready to immerse yourself into the role of a turn-of-the-century detective.

There is minimal setup to this game. You will need a large playing area, generally a room that you can play in and easily move around in. Lay out all the clues as and when you receive them. Just place the four sealed envelopes in the middle of the table (no one is to open any), set any mood music and you are ready to begin. You will need pen and paper to help you solve any clues as well as a timer. If you want to use the hint system, you will need access to the internet. Set a timer for up to 2 hours and you now have up to 120 minutes to solve all the clues and escape from Dr. Gravely’s Retreat. Can you do it?

The puzzles are well … puzzling, they’re as tricky as a fox in a henhouse. You’ll find yourself decoding cryptic messages, unravelling riddles, and perhaps even questioning the loyalty of your fellow players. It’s like being in a Sherlock Holmes story, but with less foggy London streets and more “Why on earth does this ancient artifact have a barcode?” moments.

If you can solve all the clues before the timer goes off, you win. If the timer sounds, you lose and just might end up being guests of Dr. Gravely for the rest of your life.

Overall, Escape the Room: Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat is fantastic fun, a satisfyingly challenging puzzle where logical thinking and observational skills are a must. It combines the thrill of an escape room with the comfort of your living room. For up to 2 hours you are immersed in a world of strange happenings, weird clues and lots of head banging, baffling and frustrating fun with lightbulb moments that explode in your head, and you could kick yourself for not seeing the obvious sooner.

The clues are quite varied; some can be vague, with others being a bit more detailed. Some are just about thinking through what you have read, some will require the use of pen and paper to work out the answers and others require a more hands-on approach. But each and every one is interesting and challenging.

We didn’t breeze through it, and at times did get stumped – not because of bad clues, just bad logic or overlooking something. But if you get stuck and really cannot find a way through, the online help system is an excellent companion to nudge you in the right direction. It gives you up to 3 hints per clue to help you try and solve a particular puzzle and if you still can’t get past it, it will then give the solution to that clue.

We had a great time playing the Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat and the time just flew past. The puzzles were challenging and the story that is being played out is very good, especially if you add in mood music, costumes and props.

If you are looking for a fun night with family and friends that is a bit more interesting and challenging than a standard board game, gather your most smartest of friends, or your most entertaining ones, and prepare to unlock the secrets of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat. The story and the variety of clues with pique your curiosity and you will get absorbed in the game and want to solve it.

Another great thing about this game which I love, is that despite its nature of being a one-time use game (once you solve the clues it doesn’t change so has no replay value), you can reassemble all the envelopes for another group of players to enjoy. You can invite a different group of friends to play whilst you just be the host and watch the drama unfold in front of you, you can just pass it on to a friend for them to enjoy with their family or even pass it along to a charity shop so there is no wastage. There is a very handy reassembly guide on ThinkFun’s website. That makes the cost of £22 for 2 hours entertainment and being able to pass it on great value for money.

So why go out when you can stay at home and have great fun with family and friends in the comfort of your own surroundings with an excellent escape room puzzle game.

Happy sleuthing! Can you escape the room and emerge victorious from Dr. Gravely’s Retreat?

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £21.99

For more information, visit Available to buy from Amazon here.

5 stars

DISCLOSURE: All thoughts and opinions are my own. This review uses an affiliate link which we may receive a small commission from if you purchase through the Amazon link.

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