What’s on the Table? [Aug-Sept 2020]

I love spreading the word about interesting games, especially as more and more people are looking for at-home activities. Instead of grouping them by genre or just focusing on new releases, I thought it might be fun to do a roundup with some impressions of games we've played recently. Some of them are not even technically on the table… So what have we played throughout August and September?

The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks by Bluefish Games

If you enjoyed The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, you will probably like this as well. Full of the same whimsy and creativity that I’ve now come to expect from Bluefish, The Curious Stairs provided a lot of fun in a small (and very affordable) package. There were a couple spots we got tripped up but that was easily mitigated with a detailed hint site, and we were never lost as to what to do. Mostly the gameplay felt quite smooth and we had some great "aha" moments.

Difficulty: 2/5

Time: ~60-90 mins

Hincks Gazette (July issue) by Bluefish Games

The Hincks Gazette is a monthly puzzle “newspaper” that comes from the same wacky world as Bluefish's other Hincks games. It is a little easier than the boxes and doesn’t include any additional components. We enjoyed solving the puzzles in the gazette and appreciated that it still made use of itself as a physical object despite being made of paper.

Difficulty 1.5/5

Time : ~45-60m

Madok’s Lost Treasure, Chapter 2: The Posie Ring and the Chapbook by Society of Curiosities

Society of Curiosities continues to impress with their second chapter of this pirate adventure game. It was beautifully illustrated with quality printing, but still maintained the hand-touch of aged paper and carefully wrapped components. I found the puzzles in this chapter to be quite clever, and while we did hit a few blocks along the way, the hint system was well-designed and got us to where we needed to be. Difficulty 3/5

Time: ~2-3 hours

Conspiracy 19 by DarkPark

Conspiracy 19 includes some interesting props and I appreciated that it has several starting places so we didn’t have to solve the puzzles in a linear manner. The objects were often cleverly used in several puzzles, but it also caused some confusion because the game presented it as if it were meant to be 4 distinct puzzle paths. The hint system was useful but could use some more granularity.

Difficulty 2.5/5

Time ~2 hours

Witchery Spell by DarkPark

This was the second tabletop game to come from DarkPark, and it's generally an improvement on Conspiracy 19, including the hint system. The story was more unique and the puzzles engaging, although we were a little let down that the most interesting interactions didn’t really have any consequence in the gameplay. We also ended up totally skipping over a puzzle due to… unfortunate spoilery reasons that I won’t explain. Despite the hiccups, this game remains a standout and is easy to recommend.

Difficulty 2.5/5

Time ~2 hours

Pirate’s Plunder by Trapped

It's no secret that I've been a fan of Trapped's audio escape rooms and this month I had the pleasure of trying their newest room, Pirate's Plunder. Trapped's audio rooms are played over a voice channel in Discord, accompanied by some images of the various spaces and objects players encounter. The game masters often enliven the experience with their wit but the puzzles themselves were also a delight to navigate. This adventure is family friendly and great for remote play because all you need is access to Discord.

Difficulty: 1.5/5

Time: <1 hour

Puzzlesnacks by Eric Berlin

I’ve been slowly working my way through this book of variety puzzles by Eric Berlin. (Slowly only because I pick it up a couple of times a week, and not because the puzzles are slow.) This book has some clever twists on the average newspaper style puzzles and is very accessible even to those without much trivia or pop culture knowledge (the main reason I am not normally a big fan of crosswords.) The word “snack” describes these perfectly, because you can sit down and just have one cookie… or end up eating your way through half the pack. It's also perfect with a cup of coffee and good time filler if you must commute.

Difficulty: 1.5/5

Time: 5-10 minutes per puzzle

The Lost Temple by CU Adventures

This game is a combination of a print-and-play and point-and-click, which may not sound terribly appealing at first, but it made for an excellent play with remote friends. We each printed out a copy of the PDF and cooperated in the online play. It took a couple of hours of solid puzzling and came together in a really satisfying way at the end. All the cutting was actually worth it!

Difficulty 2.5/5

Time: ~2 hours

What games have you been enjoying lately?

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