Review – Ruff Bluff: A Furlock Holmes Mystery by Trapped Puzzle Rooms
Website Link – https://www.trappedpuzzlerooms.com
Price – originally backed for $69 on Kickstarter, not currently available (but Trapped Puzzle Rooms offers a lot of other great at-home games)
In Ruff Bluff, players will be assisting Furlock Holmes to solve the case of a stolen ruby bone. Seven dogs gathered for a game of poker, but in the end the priceless bone disappeared. Secrets, motives, and opportunity must all be examined closely to solve this mystery. Thankfully, Furlock Holmes and his detective-playing friends are on the dog-themed case!
The game takes place over four stages that can be played in separate play sessions or all at once. The sections all have estimated play-time lengths. Each section will introduce new components and puzzles to decipher, but many items will see use multiple times throughout the game. Most of what players need will be in the box, but they should have an internet enabled device for answer submission and hint access.
The game is for 1 to 4+ players, ages 14 and older. It is advertised to take 6-9 hours. As a duo, the four sections took us 90 minutes, 90 minutes, 3 hours, and about 15 minutes, equaling a total play time of just over six hours.
The Puzzles: 5/5 Stars
Across the four sections, difficulty and depths of puzzles will vary, but their quality remains high. The designers make excellent use of the provided components, often using a single item multiple times, in unique ways for different puzzles. The puzzles are challenging in a doable way and provide a lot of variety.
With dozens of items to handle and work with, strong cluing and direction is essential. Every section outlines exactly what players need to figure out, setting clear goal posts. The cluing for puzzles is solid, and should leave little confusion as long as players carefully review the materials. However, just because players know what items they should probably be using, doesn’t mean that it won’t still take plenty of brain power to figure out how to actually solve the puzzles.
Even seasoned puzzlers will most likely encounter challenges that feel completely brand new. In terms of puzzle design and quality, Ruff Bluff is top notch and should leave players of all skill levels satisfied.
For those in need, the game has an online progressive hint system that is easily accessible.
The Narrative: 4/5 Stars
Ruff Bluff sets an interesting premise, which allows players to discover more of the plot and character motivations throughout the progression of the puzzling sections. By the end of the game, players should feel like they know each dog-suspect pretty well and that they have what they need to draw their final conclusions.
This is a story of gathering evidence and motive stays pretty straightforward, but it does well as both a delivery system for puzzles and a fun little tale of mystery.
Even better, the story is filled with dog appreciation and puns.
Overall Fun: 5/5 Stars
We played Ruff Bluff over two sittings and we really enjoyed ourselves throughout. The puzzles provided plenty of challenge, and we never hit any true frustration points. Several times we set aside one puzzle to work on another, but then we came back and found success. The box contains a lot to work with, which provides a great amount of content, but should also make this an easier game to play with several people.
The puns and references throughout the game were fun to discover and the theming went a long way for us, since we’re both big dog lovers. Ruff Bluff sits among our favorite puzzle games, and we can see it being loved by most players too.
Who Should Play:
The theming and solid puzzles should make this an enjoyable time for all audiences, especially those who love dogs and dog puns. The difficulty level can make this game more appropriate for older or veteran-puzzlers, but the progressive hint system may help those who don’t feel as confident in their puzzle-solving skills. Ruff Bluff should work well with groups of 1-4 players with plenty of content to dole out.
Narrative: 4/5 Stars
Puzzles: 5/5 Stars
Overall Fun: 5/5 Stars
OFFICIAL C&C FINAL RATING: 4.7/5 Stars
Disclaimer: we purchased the game with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.