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

Every month I write some impressions of the games I've been playing. Here's the latest roundup.

I was lucky enough to win this game in an EscapetheROOMERS raffle from their Behind the Masterminds episode with the creator of Puzzling Package Industries. From the moment we opened the package, it was really enjoyable to unpack the various props and carefully aged pages. The story is about a man looking to provide for his family in a new city as he gets wrapped up into a dangerous contract, summoning demons to try and achieve his goal. The experience is mostly focused on the narrative and includes five puzzles (accompanied by an online hint system). We were a bit disappointed not to get to use some of these beautiful props, but they will display nicely for the collectors out there.

Time: 1-1.5h Difficulty: 1.5/5

Mystic Maze by Magic Puzzles Despite the missteps of the Kickstarter campaign, this was one of the more enjoyable jigsaw puzzles I’ve completed in my life. We ended up finishing it over a weekend, which I did not expect whatsoever, but in all honesty it was hard to step away. The quality and fit of the pieces was really satisfying, and we appreciated all the little details the artist embedded in the illustration. I wouldn’t exactly call the final reveal “magic” but it was definitely a cool surprise and not something I’d seen done before. I recommend referencing the poster when you assemble this one… trust me, you’ll want to.

(Not listing time or difficulty for this one, because, well, it's a jigsaw puzzle.)

My curiosity about this game was piqued when I heard nothing but positive comments alongside “I can’t tell you anything else or it will spoil the surprise.” After playing it, I understand why. The game is described as a mix of “trivia, codes, puzzles and discovery” but what really makes the game special is the discovery. I was impressed by how many and how well-hidden the surprises were... and that is all I will say. I did hit a couple stumbling points along the way, but overall this game was a delightful experience. (Keep in mind though that it is designed to be played by one person, so don’t try to play it as a group.)

Time: ~2h Difficulty: 1.5/5

I previously wrote about The Lost Temple by CU Adventures, which plays similarly to Floor 13, using both print-and-play and online elements which guide you through a virtual space. The gameplay felt smooth and although the puzzles were on the easy side, we enjoyed working through them and they still managed to present us with something new and interesting. I would especially recommend this game for beginners and friends who want to play remotely, as each person can print their own copy.

Time: 1-1.5h

Difficulty: 1/5

This is the second mini-ARG by the American Society for the Protection of Magical Creatures. It contains some nice meaty puzzles that creatively utilize real-world resources, making us do things like find constellations on the Met website map, walk around Yosemite National Park, and examine skulls in scientific photo archives. The meta was a rather long process puzzle, but the cleverness made up for the number of steps, and it began to move more quickly once we got into a rhythm. This game is great for remote friends, and I would recommend playing it with at least one other person (a group of 3 felt right) but hints and solutions are available in case you get stuck.

Time: 2.5-3h

Difficulty: 3/5

The Bewitched Circus is an online adventure by Society of Curiosities that uses texting, websites, and other digital media to guide the player through a series of puzzles at this strange circus and recover a witch’s hand (spoOooOky). Complete with realistic photos, an interactive character, and solid puzzles, it is easy to say that this was a well-executed online puzzle game. There were some points throughout where the next step was a bit ambiguous, but as always this was mitigated by Society of Curiosities’ excellent hint system.

Time: ~1h

Difficulty: 1.5/5

I participated in an early playtest of this game, so I haven't seen the finished product yet, but I know it's going to be good. Club Drosselmeyer is normally an annual event that happens in Boston every December, and can be described as an immersive-puzzle-hunt-swing-dance-party, where people can choose to participate by solving puzzles and talking to actors, or simply drink, dance, and enjoy the jazz ensemble. Since it's impossible to put on a live event of this nature in 2020, the creators have instead created a remote experience. While it lacks the social aspect of a dance party, it retains the atmosphere and snazzy music by translating the entire event into a live radio show. The puzzles are presented in physical form and can be purchased in a box that is mailed to your home or simply as a print and play, and phone numbers are used to call characters and submit solutions. The puzzles were tricky and satisfying, and this was a great way to spend an evening, whether just at home or playing with remote teammates. There are still tickets left to the live shows on Dec 13, but the audio will be available throughout the month so it is still possible to play on your own time (just without the live actors.) Note that you probably need a US phone number to play.

Time: 2h

Difficulty: 2.5/5

What have you been playing this month?


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