I've had the privilege to play some interesting games this past month, both on and offline, so it only seemed appropriate to include the standouts in both media. Here are some quick impressions, including links to more comprehensive reviews where available.
I’ve been looking forward to this game since it was announced and it delivered a good number of interesting and tangible puzzles. There were a few ambiguities and signposts that fell a bit flat for me playing solo, but thankfully the hint system was very well thought out. This is challenging to do when you have physical puzzles but ThinkFun used images effectively to show every step. Overall an enjoyable game and perfect for the spooky season.
Time: ~2 hours
This is not a puzzle game… but it’s been on our table a lot lately, because the Kickstarter just fulfilled. 10 Gallon Tank is an aquarium-themed set collection game for 2-5 players. Its closest counterpart is probably Sushi Go!, although I find the card-splitting mechanic in this game more interesting. It plays in 3-4 rounds, which go pretty quickly. The beauty is that this game is so simple to learn and play and feels balanced with various player counts. If you have kids around I highly recommend this as a family game.
Time: ~15 minutes per game
Game 0 was meant to be a Kickstarter exclusive introduction to the series. Game 1 (Newspaper) felt like a part of that introduction, setting the premise of the series using puzzles related to various future episodes. Game 2 (Cabaret in Lapin Blanc) introduced a narrative to the contents, which greatly enhanced the gameplay. The puzzles felt more like part of a mystery to take little bites of. Despite a couple of iffy/outside knowledge moments I am looking forward to the next chapter!
Game 0+1: ~1 hour
Game 2: ~1.5 hours
Does it make sense for me to mention Hincks Gazette every month? Well, yes. This bite-size newspaper subscription is always a joy to work through. This time one puzzle was a bit of an exception, challenging our notions of math and reality, but even so Bluefish gets points for creativity. I know I’ll be renewing my subscription for this one.
Time: ~40-60 mins each
On the Screen
Colby’s Curious Cookoff has an adorable food-themed story as a framework for this digital puzzle hunt. Perfect for remote play with a friend, Colby’s surprised us with the variety, quality, and quantity of puzzles. Some of the puzzles were logic-based and others visual, with the majority falling into the “variety puzzle” style wordplay. It felt accessible, though it might prove more challenging for non-native English speakers. Colby’s Curious Cookoff allows you to reveal several puzzles at a time, which is nice in case you get a bit stuck and want to come back to something later. This rarely happened, but we were still thankful not to have anything hold us up.
Time: ~5-15 minutes per puzzle x 35 puzzles (definitely multiple sittings worth of content)
This is an avatar-driven online escape room that is played through Zoom with an additional page for inventory and 360 views of the rooms. It is unique among escape games in that the avatar may die and respawn if you make a “mistake,” but this mechanic is integrated into the game in such a way that it’s actually necessary to die in order to continue. When it comes to video games or live games that make you start over if you fail (looking at you, Boda Borg!) I am not a fan of redoing sequences, so I was hesitant about this game, but it turned out to be absolutely delightful. Omescape really stretched their creativity here and created something unique that works well for the medium.
Time: <90 mins
Another one for the spooky season, this Halloween-themed audio escape room was a joy to play. It may come across as a little easy for escape room regulars, but I found it to be a satisfying level of difficulty while still great for the kiddos. I always love Trapped’s outside-the-box thinking and this game is no exception. Allow yourself to get a little silly when you play this, because GMs will play along.
Time: <60 minutes
What have you been playing this month?