Fire in Adlerstein
- Designer: Alexander Krys
- Publisher: iDventure
- Players: 1-5
- Age: 13+
- Time: 2 hours
- Times played: 1, with review copy provided by iDventure
(This review is meant to be spoiler free. There are pictures of the game components in the review below, but they are either taken from the publisher’s website or are introductory material which includes no spoiling information)
In Fire in Adlerstein, players are presented with a realistic take on a crime, a house fire in the town of Adlerstein. The game is a very unique take on the escape room genre due to its realism. In this game, your team “will act as a real detective to investigate the case of a suspicious fire that occurred in the city of Adlerstein and resulted in the death of a citizen. A journalist is charged with arson with fatal consequences. He gathered a lot of evidence to prove his innocence. You have to find out if he is telling the truth and find the real criminal. The game is designed as a realistic crime case and requires investigations similar to those carried out by the criminal police in real life.”
As you open the box, you will find a police dossier chock full of papers as well as a few other pieces of evidence. There really aren’t much in the way of instructions (just a single page) – though you do get this letter…
Once you read this, it’s time to grab some pen and paper to take notes, and you might want to have a phone or computer handy – because just like a real police detective, you need to use all the equipment/technology you have available to glean all the information you can about the case. When you think that you’ve solved the case, you can go to a website to input your answer. It will then tell you if you’re correct in your detective work! If you get stuck, that same website can also get you clues to help you along the way.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no guide as to what to do – you get all the information in one bundle (i.e. when you open the box) – and there is nothing else to come. It’s just you and the clues…
The game, as you might expect, can only be played once – because once you know the solution to the crime, you’ll likely not forget the details. Also, while there is plenty of paper and stuff in the box, nothing is destroyed in the playing of the game, so you should be able to pass this along and share the experience with your friends.
As our group played through this game, the attention to detail was amazing. There were a number of clues that showed an unbelievable amount of planning and precision to get right. And, given the realism of the clues, I’ll admit that we may have even spent 5 or 10 minutes trying to ascertain whether Adlerstein is an actual place or not! (We think that it is not after our Internet searching…) The story is tight, and the was in which you learn information from the clues is really well done.
Our group had some spirited debates (arguments?!) about the way that the case was unfolding. There were a couple of pieces of evidence that could be interpreted in different ways, and we had a great time discussing the pros/cons of each interpretation as we tried to unravel the mystery. In a way, it was almost like roleplaying – we were each taking on the role of a different detective on the team, and sitting around a table trying to crack the case. If we had some acrid coffee in Styrofoam cups and maybe a box of stale donuts on the table, it would have been even more realistic!
Thus far, this is the only case (out of 4 on the German website) that has been translated to English. I am very impressed with the translation, and we did not find any errors or even awkward phrasings during the whole game. Kudos to the translation team for sure. I am very interested in seeing the other cases as we felt this one was a great story and a nice challenge, and it is rated as a “Beginner level” detective case whereas Cases 2 and 3 are rated “expert” – unfortunately – Adlerstein remains the only one available in EN.
I will be keeping my eye on the webpage in the coming year, and I will certainly be stopping by the booth at SPIEL 2020 to see if any other cases are available.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Mario P: Pretty impressive ‘Case 1’. The components are great and you really feel like you’re doing ‘detective work’. The best part IMHO is that you have all the clues ‘on the table’ and everything makes perfect sense in the end. But not only in the end – unlike some other games – you don’t get a ‘surprise solution that makes sense, but there’s almost no way to figure it out during the game’, here it all comes together while trying to solve the case.
Jonathan F.: For me, this is the pinnacle of the genre for a few reasons – 1. It is not on rails – you can pick up any piece and do something with it, so it is more jigsaw puzzle than a series of locked rooms with gates. 2. It is creative in the use of contents – it is not just a set of cards or a booklet or something else constrained. 3. It is non-destructive (I don’t care about this as much as others do, but understand many people care about this). 4. You do need a connected device, but it is not the focus of the game. 5. I am excited about what the future will offer for this series and what it will inspire for those who try it and want to make their own. The reason I did not love it, is that it feels like a teaser for something much larger and even more exciting, so I want to save Love It for that.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Dale Y, Mario P
- I like it. John P, Jonathan F., James Nathan
- Not for me…