As soon as I realized the full premise of The Sting, I instantly squealed with glee. A version of this concept has long been on my wish list of escape room themes, yet given its potentially niche appeal to escape room enthusiasts, I’d all but given up hope that it would ever actually exist.

The Sting‘s designer, Gai Bosco, described this room as his “love letter to escape rooms.” I’d have to agree with that sentiment — from start to finish, through every detail of the game, it was abundantly clear that The Sting was a heartfelt ode to the escape room industry, to escape room designers, to escape room tropes, and to escape room enthusiasts. It successfully channeled many of the mechanics and emotions that made us fall in love with escape rooms in their many forms.

Inevitably, these meta nuances may only be fully grokked by escape room enthusiasts. But The Sting was thoughtfully designed to be equally playable and enjoyable by newer escape room players. The story and puzzles were straightforward and accessible, occasionally verging on overly simplistic for my taste. The gameplay was greater than the sum of its parts, which would have risked feeling too scattered or random if not for solid narrative justification.

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