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What's on the Table (+Screen)? [Nov-Dec 2020]

Every month I write some impressions of the games I've been playing. This is the latest roundup and includes both digital and tabletop games of various styles.

Note that I have decided not to comment on the price point in these games--value is your own personal judgement to make.

The third installment from Scarlet Envelope introduced a futuristic setting to our journey. The world building was impressive, though I felt like I needed more of an on-ramp when it came to the coordinate systems and space jargon--it would also have helped if the hint system was a bit more granular with showing in-between steps. Aside from one puzzle that completely stumped us, this chapter included some clever solves and we enjoyed the nonlinear nature of the game which allowed for different starting points. It’s been interesting so far to watch this series develop and I’m looking forward to the next envelope.

Time: ~2h

Difficulty: 2.5/5

The Antikythera Tablets are a set of 5 beautifully made mechanical puzzles, which, when purchased as a collection, also come in their own puzzly storage box. Opening the box itself was a surprising and challenging pleasure to start off with, as well as a reminder that you do need to like mechanical puzzles to get the most out of this game. The concept behind it was inspired by Greek mythology and I was impressed with how the creator was able to tie in the theme and story of each hero into the tasks you have to perform with each individual tablet--I never imagined turning laser cut discs while thinking about Perseus and Medusa. The remaining two tablets I have yet to solve (and what I assume will be the culminating meta puzzle) do sit intimidatingly on my desk and the level of challenge makes part of me wish there was a little bit of self-service guidance for these online, but those who enjoy a complex and carefully crafted mechanism will not be disappointed.

Time: ~45-60 minutes each for the box itself, Heracles, Perseus, and Sisyphus, though any single tablet could easily take longer, and Odysseus definitely has a long journey ahead…

Difficulty: Ranging from 3-4/5

Hincks Gazette is always a good go-to when you’re looking for a bite-size puzzle game that will also make you smile. Each newspaper contains approximately five puzzles, and it seems to be that one clue always eludes us, but overall they are consistently original and enjoyable. Bluefish Games also has an excellent detailed hint system and the whimsical world they’ve been building around Mr. Hincks is always good for a chuckle.

Time: <60m per newspaper

Difficulty: 2/5

True to DarkPark’s previous creations, Dear Santa offered quality puzzles but with a slightly lower difficulty level and wrapped in a cute holiday theme. My group enjoyed the originality of the story and felt it to be relatively family friendly, although the inclusion of a sensitive topic (specifically Cancer, family illness) may not make this game a good choice for some players. We did also run into a couple of hiccups with the website and the ending felt a little off the mark, but we found it to be overall an entertaining experience.

Time: ~2h

Difficulty: 1.5/5

The Verdict by Logic Locks

The Verdict is an immersive online experience (described on the website as an “interactive online drama”) in which twelve participants take on the roles of a jury in a Zoom-based trial with no lawyers or judge--just by looking at evidence and questioning the suspect. It is very similar in setup to a game called Jury Duty, but instead of solving a mystery, it ended up being more of an ethical dilemma that we had to come to a consensus on as a jury. We debated the outcome for a long time, which says something about the thoughtful layering of the narrative--there was an argument to be made for each possible outcome. Because of the social aspect, I can imagine this experience playing out differently depending on your familiarity with the team and the backgrounds of the players. I can’t necessarily recommend one way or the other, but just know that it will have an effect on how it pans out. Ultimately it was a really interesting way to spend two hours… but don’t think of it as a game where you win or lose.

Time: ~2h

Difficulty: N/A

From the designers of A Death in the Red Light, Monuments Men is an online point-and-click puzzle game about recovering precious art pieces that were stolen by the Nazis. This game draws from actual historical research and tells the stories of these artifacts using clever puzzles at a very accessible difficulty level, making it a great choice for beginners and solo play. It is possible to do the “missions” in any order or even spread them out over some coffee breaks (although the whole thing can definitely be completed in one) and history enthusiasts will surely appreciate the educational content embedded in the game. (Who knew all this art was moved around so much?)

Special: You can use the code POSTCURIOUS for a 5 Euro discount off Monuments Men (I don’t make any money off of this)

Time: ~1-1.5h

Difficulty: 1/5

BRUCE Saves Christmas is the third game in XcapeNow’s BRUCE series, a set of online point-and-click puzzle games. This new seasonal installment was a relatively quick play for experienced players, but nonetheless amusing and packed with holiday cuteness. At times it felt like a classic flash game---take that as you will. In any case, it is easy to recommend this game for people with kids and at some point I will probably be revisiting the first two BRUCE games, which I have yet to play.

Time: <1h

Difficulty: 1/5

What have you been playing lately?


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