Puzzle Snacks [Book Review]

Incredibly great (9)

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 2019

Team size: we recommend 1-2

Price: $10

Publisher: Tiller Press

REA Reaction

I love word puzzles, but I don’t have a lot of time. Puzzle Snacks stepped right into a void in my life with word puzzles for an extremely busy lifestyle.

Eric Berlin’s Puzzle Snacks made crossword-style cluing more accessible with “bite-sized” puzzles that asked the solver to think creatively about words. It linked words together in interesting ways.

Cover of Puzzle Snacks, "More than 100 clever bite-sized puzzle for every solver" by Eric Berlin.

While I liked some puzzle styles more than others, they were mostly quite enjoyable, and it was easy to skip the one puzzle type that really wasn’t for me.

Newer puzzlers will find these puzzles approachable. Experienced puzzlers will find them quick, yet elegantly satisfying. If you love crosswords, or want to like crosswords, we highly recommend picking up a copy of Puzzle Snacks to enjoy on your own or with a friend, for those fleeting free moments where you just need a word puzzle.

Who is this for?

  • Word puzzlers
  • People with limited time or limited attention span
  • All experience levels

Why play?

  • Crosswording made more approachable
  • Impressive and elegant puzzle designs
  • Bite-sized puzzles

Setup

Each page of Puzzle Snacks presented a crossword-like puzzle. There were 110 of these puzzles. We could dive into any puzzle at any time. They were each standalone solves.

The grid for one of the Spiral puzzles.

Gameplay

Puzzle Snacks was a puzzle book with a low-moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around solving crossword-like clues, and fitting words and letters together in interesting ways.

Analysis

Puzzle Snacks was loaded with elegant puzzles that made us stop and marvel at how everything came together. We were particularly taken with the “Spiral” puzzles that solved both forwards and backwards. Frankly it’s worth the price of admission just to solve these.

Puzzle Snacks made crossword-style word puzzles approachable. As noted in his introduction, author Eric Berlin stuck to everyday words that normal people know. Each puzzle had less than half the number of clues of a standard crossword. He wrote crossword clues for the uninitiated, opening these puzzles to newer word puzzlers or puzzlers with limited time or limited focus.

➕ The puzzles were satisfying solves. Moreover, they were truly impressive creations. I loved how the words fit together. In these puzzles, words I’d already solved clued the ones I was working on, similarly to in a crossword puzzle, but in my opinion, even more elegantly. I loved how the words spiraled, reversed, boxed, crossed, or pathed into each other in interesting ways.

➕ We finished every puzzle we started in that same sitting. That provided immense satisfaction. Even when we struggled, we could approach from a different vantage point and continue along. We were never stumped for more than a minute or two.

➕ The puzzle types repeated, but with different crossword clues and different words fitting into the puzzle designs. We could find the types we liked best and solve a few of them in a row. While we had to read and understand the directions for each puzzle type, we didn’t have to do that for each individual puzzle.

➕/ ➖ The book provided hints at the back. These were noted in such a way that we could find them easily, but wouldn’t accidentally read more information than we wanted. They said just enough to give us something to sink our teeth into if we’d paused. That said, there weren’t enough hints to walk someone through an entire puzzle piece by piece. If you’re seriously struggling, you’ll have to look at the solution to hint yourself, which means spoilers.

➖ The first puzzle seemed stylistically different from most of the others. It asked us to think a bit differently. While we enjoyed it, we found it more challenging than the majority of the puzzle types. It seemed like an odd jumping-off point for the rest of the puzzles in the book. It might turn off a few would-be solvers.

➖ We found the “quote” puzzle type excessively tedious. After solving one of those, we decided not to do any more of that variety. 

➕ We’ve solved a lot of puzzles and there are tons more in this book. I’m looking forward to taking it on planes and trains.

Author Eric Berlin also wrote The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, a fun story where you get to solve alongside a character.

Tips For Player

  • Space Requirements: a small table, or even just a lap
  • Required Gear: a pen or pencil and occasionally a straight edge. We recommend FriXion pens.

Buy your copy of Puzzle Snacks, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Tiller Press provided a sample for review. 

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale. We appreciate the support.)

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