ClueKeeper, that puzzle hunt app [Review]

ClueKeeper is an iOS & Android app for building and playing puzzle hunts.

ClueKeeper logo

ClueKeeper is best known as the interface for the annual international puzzle hunt, DASH (Different Area, Same Hunt) since its 6th event in 2014. It is also used by companies such as Shinteki, Palantir, and about 30-40 others to host public and private puzzle events.

Escape room puzzle hunts

Over the past few years a few escape room companies have begun using ClueKeeper as a way to create outdoor walking puzzle hunts.

2015 Golden Lock-in winner Locurio has a ClueKeeper-based puzzle hunt in Seattle. So do San Francisco’s incredibly popular Palace Games and Jersey City’s Puzzle Out, among a few other escape room companies all over the world.

A wide-area puzzle game is a fantastic idea, especially for escape room companies in walking cities in temperate climates. They are fun, engaging, and don’t require an elaborate set build; your beautiful city is the set.

Standouts

ClueKeeper can facilitate a wide variety of puzzles and it works well at scale. The largest annual puzzle hunt in the world has relied on it for years… so they are clearly doing something right.

ClueKeeper can be used to create wide-area location-specific puzzle games that require walking about or location-non-specific games that can be played within the confines of a player’s own home.

Games can be created within the app. It was designed for testing and rapid iteration by incredibly talented puzzlers.

A puzzle hunt creator can build a game within ClueKeeper and then sell/distribute that game through the ClueKeeper puzzle hunt store.

ClueKeeper’s augmented reality capabilities are pretty damn cool. Gnome Invasion is a free tech demo of ClueKeeper’s augmented reality functionality available for download in-app. (Note that if you do not have access to the items that it is looking for, the app will respond to photographs.)

ClueKeeper essentially administers itself. Once the team has started a well-designed puzzle hunt, there isn’t much – if any – gamemaster support required.

The ClueKeeper team has produced a lot of documentation to help you get started and is available to provide support.

Shortcomings

When you’re using ClueKeeper, you’re using ClueKeeper. The app cannot be re-skinned or themed in any way. If you’re striving for a deeply immersive experience, you’ll have to achieve this through the environments, game flow, and storytelling. The app will not visually change.

ClueKeeper’s GPS interpretation is subject to both physics and the limitations of an individual phone’s technology. If you’re in a bunker of a building or you’re experiencing some variance, it might have a hard time placing your exact position, which could cause problems with location-specific puzzles.

Should I use ClueKeeper?

If you love puzzles, you should absolutely download ClueKeeper. Try out some of the puzzle hunts that can be played in your own home. If there’s a location-based one near you, give it a shot. Your mileage will vary from hunt to hunt.

If you’re an escape room owner with a facility in a walkable area, you should try out a few puzzle hunts and see if this is the kind of thing that would appeal to you and your clientele. We love puzzle hunts and welcome the opportunity to play creative games on the platform.

If you’re going to create a puzzle hunt on ClueKeeper, I encourage you to be creative. Make sure that no two puzzles feel the same. Edit your writing down. Make use of as much of the functionality of the app as possible.

If you want to hire someone to professionally produce a puzzle hunt for you, the folks from ClueKeeper can make recommendations.

Download it on iOS & Android, or read a bit more on ClueKeeper.com.

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