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What Are We Playing? [July-Aug 2021]

Every month or so on this blog we highlight a handful of tabletop and digital games to spread the word about interesting experiences and support other creators -- here is our summer roundup!

I enjoyed Society of Curiosities' first “Fairy Tale File,” The Cinderella Murders, and the second installment in the series was equally delightful; the goal in the story was to find out who killed two people with a glass slipper, given three suspects and various pieces of evidence. Although The Curious Case felt marginally easier, it still maintained a level of creativity that sometimes feels lacking in low-difficulty puzzles. While this may not be the game to choose if you’re looking for a challenge, the theme and complexity level make it an excellent option to play with kids or puzzle newbies. Plus, the lighthearted tone and witty writing put a great twist on a set of classic fairy tale characters and made it feel welcoming and accessible for a wide audience.

Time: <1h

Difficulty: 1/5

A Fisherman’s Tale takes place in a 360-degree virtual world, where the player takes on the role of a fisherman’s puppet, living in a tiny model lighthouse. The story was charming, and the puzzles mind-bending, requiring you to think outside the box (often literally!) Although the gameplay was rather similar to the spatial logic tricks of Maquette, which I wrote about in a previous post, the VR environment augmented the experience and transformed the game into something more singular. My only complaint is that at times it was unclear how to accomplish a task, and while there was occasionally a voice to help “guide” you, it often wasn’t very helpful. I would have preferred clues I could access at will rather than unprompted comments that would only occasionally get me back on the right track, but this is a relatively minor issue in what is overall a polished game full of beautiful and surprising moments.

Time: ~3h

Difficulty: 1.5/5

This game arrived in an actual pizza box, which made for a delightful arrival (but a less-than-delightful process of unrolling all the paper sheets inside...) The gameplay was divided into six pizza slices, plus an envelope for the final puzzle. Each slice contained an average of three puzzles, which were usually thematic, but at times felt a bit random. Some puzzles had us interacting with the components in interesting ways, whereas others required external knowledge of trivia and pop culture, which may be more or less appealing to you depending on your personal preference and willingness to use the internet. Thankfully, hints were there to help us through the tough spots, and the humor Trapped embeds into everything they create made up for any hiccups we encountered. This game also has a lot of content, so you can easily spread it out and just have a bite of pizza at a time.

Time: 6 slices + meta puzzle of approx. 45-60 minutes each = about 6h total

Difficulty: 2/5

The Deserted Lighthouse played similarly to a classic EXIT game in many ways, but with an additional jigsaw puzzle twist. It felt like a balanced combination for our group, but if you don’t enjoy jigsaw puzzles, you’d likely be better off pursuing another title in the series. Despite a few puzzles with ambiguous cluing, we enjoyed the overall experience and found a good amount of variety in the gameplay. I do want to offer a tip though: don’t disassemble the jigsaw pieces when you move on to the next section, as already assembled parts will be reused later in the game.

Time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: 2.5/5

What I continue to admire about Scarlet Envelope is how much variety they offer--each chapter is different from the last. The fifth installment had us solving logic problems and making story connections, which I really enjoyed, but it could have been improved if the puzzles resolved with a cleaner order. Screaming Venice contained an impressive multi-layered puzzle, but often times in this series we feel like just a tiny bit more signposting would go a long way. Alternatively, more granular hints would help. What was available allowed us to get through the sticky spots, but we wished to be able to figure out more on our own by progressing with smaller steps. That aside, it's always neat to see how much puzzle can fit into such a small envelope, and the screaming cat bookmark was an added bonus.

Time: ~1.5h each

Difficulty: 2.5/5

Enigmailed teamed up with a local chocolatier to create two tasty puzzle treats! There are no riddles in the chocolate itself, so don’t worry, you can eat it--the packaging is where the action is. Each bar contains several clues on the wrapper, which combine to solve a (very) mini-mystery. While the solutions might feel like fairly standard decodes to an experienced puzzler, these bars would make a great gift for basically anyone who likes chocolate, or can just be a sweet little solve to enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Time: <15m per bar

Difficulty: 1/5

What have you been playing this month?


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