Reviews

Arkham Horror: The Road to Innsmouth Deluxe Edition review — The most unique Arkham Horror experience I’ve had

A Mystery Begins

So, this is going to be an odd review. Without burying the lede, I had a good time with The Road to Innsmouth. I enjoyed it and overall recommend the game, but I feel there’s something I should address before we get to the review proper. I would like to explain how I arrived on The Road to Innsmouth.

Several months ago I was on a trip with some friends in Seattle, and while we were there, we discovered there is an official Fantasy Flight Arkham Horror escape room at Hourglass Escapes called Mystery at Innsmouth. With my friends being at the intersection of board game lovers and escape room fanatics we immediately booked a session. I am not particularly good at escape rooms, but I do enjoy them. Thankfully, I know a lot of smart people who love puzzles and routinely carry me through. It also turns out Arkham Horror 2nd Edition is one of the games that got me into board gaming, so I very much wanted to see this official escape room. The production value inside the room was detailed with everything well reflecting the Fantasy Flight Arkham Horror mythos. There were a few technical hiccups, but overall the game ran smoothly due to the attentive staff at Hourglass Escapes. We would go on to solve the Mystery at Innsmouth with only a few minutes to spare. Overall, we had a blast with Mystery at Innsmouth. (I also participated in the Evil Dead 2 escape room and wholeheartedly recommend that one as well.) If you ever find yourself in Seattle and need to escape something, I recommend Hourglass Escapes.

Hourglass Escapes

After we completed Mystery at Innsmouth we spotted Arkham Horror: The Road to Innsmouth on Hourglass Escapes merchandise shelf. The employee explained that The Road to Innsmouth is a prequel to Mystery at Innsmouth and is an “online interactive adventure” as the box itself indicates. The Deluxe Edition contained Arkham Horror themed items such as a map, a statue, a coin, and a few other odds and ends. A box full of Arkham Horror swag and some kind of game? Sold! We snapped up a few copies and continued on our trip. Recently we found time to play The Road to Innsmouth and what was inside wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

Deluxe Edition box contents

The Plot Twist

I had purposely never opened the box as I wanted to preserve as much of its mystery as possible. Hourglass Escapes’ webpage for Road to Innsmouth indicated you need “A good WiFi connection and laptop or desktop for each player,” and “pen and paper.” That was all we knew as we started our play. We opened the box, out came the items, and we were greeted with a code to begin our game online. With various internet ready devices, we connected to the game and hit start. Within a few minutes of play we began to understand what the game was and here is where we hit another detour.

The Road to Innsmouth is not an “escape room in a box” like Unlock!, nor is it an app driven mystery game like Chronicles of Crime. The Road to Innsmouth is a multiplayer point and click adventure game similar to Myst. The game is played entirely online and is basically a video game. Up to four players inhabit Stella Clark as she journeys into Innsmouth seeking the source of her invitation. Road to Innsmouth is entirely puzzle driven; the players solve a series of puzzles allowing them to advance the story until they reach the conclusion. The box isn’t trying to hide this, it’s clearly labeled, but I have to acknowledge that it is possible for someone to take this off of a tabletop game store shelf and think they are purchasing something different. I had purposely avoided reading the box and this lack of knowledge is my own fault. Ultimately, This game being an online experience didn’t bother me, but as a product that sits in the “tabletop” world, it could confuse potential buyers.

If The Road to Innsmouth is essentially a video game, why does it have a physical box? There are two versions of the game available. At Hourglass Escapes website you can purchase the normal version for $30, which allows you to play the game and nothing physical is sent to you. The Deluxe version for $40 comes with the “interactive collectible artifacts,” available at Hourglass Escapes website and I have seen this version at some local game stores. These items are identical to the ones you will encounter in the game and can be used to help solve the in-game puzzles. Did you find a mysterious coin in the game? Perhaps you should look at the coin that came in the box. While these items are cool, they are unnecessary to complete the game. I am happy to have them as a souvenir of a good time at Hourglass Escapes, but I will stress again, they are not required to complete The Road to Innsmouth.

Back of box description I did not read :)

The Reveal

So, The Road to Innsmouth wasn’t what I expected, but is it any good? Yes, I think what is there is pretty good. The game contained a wide variety of puzzles that allowed everyone to have time in the spotlight. There were puzzles that made my brain glaze over and ones where I was able to shine. As a team we were able to communicate and work together on the tasks laid out for us. At certain points in the game we were even able to spread out into larger environments exploring multiple puzzles at once. This part of the game really captured the escape room experience. If you like solving puzzles, this is the game’s greatest strength. On top of that, I found the voice acting and graphics to be well done. From a video game perspective, The Road to Innsmouth is a tiny adventure game and I have a hard time judging it by conventional video game standards.

However, there are some potholes for The Road to Innsmouth. We had assembled two different groups to try out the game: a team of three and a team of four. Between the two groups we encountered a fair amount of technical bugs. They were mostly small bugs where interactions with objects weren’t working momentarily. A few puzzles didn’t immediately react when the correct solution was entered and we had to reenter the solution. While I doubt this was intentional, this flaw felt like real escape rooms do. This was mitigated by the hint system that we used a few times just to ensure we were on the right track. A few times people fully disconnected from the game; we were always able to reload and get back into the game, but the load time was more than a full minute.

I was on the four person team and we found there were pros and cons to having a full team. At times it felt like there were too many of us; each of us competing to examine the same inventory item. Other times having four people was perfect where we were working in teams of two on different puzzles. Once again, I have to commend The Road to Innsmouth for capturing the escape room experience. This game would be great for couples wanting to tackle a challenge together or a solo experience would let you soak in all the puzzles. Since it is entirely online it would be fantastic to play remotely via Discord. We had an enjoyable time playing the game in the same room, but this game is more versatile than I expected.

In game screenshot

Our journey along The Road to Innsmouth took just over two hours which was close to the estimated time the box listed. As we finished I noted which physical items came in handy for the online focused game. Without spoilers, I can say people made use of the physical items, but that was tempered with some disappointment that doing so was ultimately not needed. The items did allow another way for players to interact with the game and that was worth the extra ten dollars.

The End

The Road to Innsmouth is an online multiplayer point and click adventure game. With that out of the way, I recommend it. The deluxe edition box contains cool Arkham Horror themed items, but are ultimately unnecessary for the game itself. The Road to Innsmouth is something unique in the tabletop world, but I recognize its potential to confuse people about what the game actually is. Whether in person or online The Road to Innsmouth offers a fun puzzle solving experience for up to four people that captures the spirit of live escape rooms.

Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Chris began tabletop gaming in college and quickly fell into the addictive world of cardboard. Beginning with D&D and Catan he became an enthusiast of all things gaming; analog or digital. Chris, now a relapsed MtG player, loves connecting with people via gaming through RPGs, board games, and video games. A particular favorite is testing friendships through social deduction games.

75

Good

Arkham Horror: The Road to Innsmouth Deluxe Edition

Review Guidelines

The Road to Innsmouth is an online multiplayer point and click adventure game. With that out of the way, I recommend it. The deluxe edition box contains cool Arkham Horror themed items, but are ultimately unnecessary for the game itself. The Road to Innsmouth is something unique in the tabletop world, but I recognize its potential to confuse people about what the game actually is. Whether in person or online The Road to Innsmouth offers a fun puzzle solving experience for up to four people that captures the spirit of live escape rooms.

Chris Wyman

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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