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The 'UNSOLVED' Case of the Vanishing Gambler

The 'SOLVED' Case of the Vanishing Gambler

TV and Theatre’s, Olivier Award-winning writer, Henry Lewis, one of the stars of the gut-busting comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong and the TV series The Goes Wrong Show successfully Kickstarted his award winning range of escape room puzzles in a box Mystery Agency Puzzles are available in game shops and department stores.

With The Mystery Agency Puzzles, players must investigate and solve a mystery through a myriad of intriguing physical objects supplied inside the box as well as discover secret websites that are hiding important clues.

What is striking about The Mystery Agency puzzles is the incredible attention to detail presented in the stunning tactile pieces that have been deftly designed to stretch your powers of deduction.

In The Case of the Vanishing Gambler the players open the box and the first thing that they encounter is a bird’s nest of shredded paper. Naturally when we opened the box we spent a fair amount of time going through it, virtually strand by strand, to determine if any of it was some kind of clue. Was it? I’m not saying!

Also in the box is a torn piece of Newspaper and an Evidence bag, the latter looking remarkably like the type of brown bag a Deli might serve your Take-A-Way lunch in. This is the first mystery game I have played where the parts of the challenge are actual physical pieces, not photographs on cards etc. For example there is an actual 3 digit combination lock preventing you from opening the bag. If you’re thinking of tearing it open two things immediately spring to mind:
1. You aren’t interested in playing the game or letting others enjoy it after you
2. The bag is made of a greased paper/card which would I guess (I never tried) make it difficult to tear.

With some of the ‘mystery’ games we play, and enjoy, I can include a few photos of the cards etc without giving anything away. With the Case of the Vanishing Gambler everything in the box requires full scrutiny and thus taking pictures of the components would be tantamount to handing out spoilers – I am not going to do that because any mystery game with a £40.00 price tag deserves to be honoured.

What I can say is that there has been an amazing amount of research and planning in creating this game. You will need access to the internet when playing, so get your hacking heads in gear. In some books a website may be mentioned and, if you are curious you can try it out. Generally this will lead you to a website that is like a huge advertisement for the book. In the Case of the Vanishing Gambler you will/should find internet addresses that are more than simply adverts. 

We decided to approach the challenge as a cooperative brainstorming, not putting ourselves under any pressure by setting any kind of timer. We took a casual couple of hours, some of which was used trying to open the combination locks (oops did I say ‘locks’?) after we have discovered the combination, there is no clearly marked line on the lock’s body.

As you are looking into the disappearance of a gambler I will leave you to use your imagination as to what some of the 20+ physical and digital clues will be – think of Las Vegas and what you would expect to find in the Casinos there and you should be able to envision what to expect  for some of the inner parts.


The genre of challenging detection games is myriad; I have played a fair number of them but not anywhere near the total number. Each mystery from the detective games that I play regularly adds something new to the genus, not so much as getting better but being similar with a twist. This is the first  MYSTERY AGENCY game I have played, therefore I cannot compare it to others in the series, and it is too distinctly diverse from any other riddling enigma of a game that I have played to be compared to those other games.

From internet research I have found that at this time of writing there are three games from the Mystery Agency, all at £40.00 a pop – though there is a special deal of £99.00 for all three games. The other challenges require you to open an old chest in your search for the famed Balthazar Stone, or you can discover how the theme of a 1950s board game is connected to the Ghost in the Attic.


With four of us, all who could be classified as very experienced gamers, having been rivetted to the Case of the Vanishing Gambler for a good couple of hours, I can say with surety that if the other Mystery Agency games are anywhere near as good as the one we have played then there are between 3-5 hours of concentrated detective work still out there. There is no reason to believe that the other games will not be as good.

The only thing I can say against, but in deference to, this excellent mind-bender of a puzzling challenge, is that for a one-off game it is a little pricey. EXIT games cost between £11.50-£13.50, Deckscape and Decktective games are on sale for around £8.00-£9.00. At £40.00 the MYSTERY AGENCY games are in the high end of retail. I did find a 4-adventure Escape Room:the Game box starter set at £41.93 but further research determined that other Escape Room:the Game challenges range from boxed sets of 2 games at £13.28 to a 3 games box at £21.88.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021