Pentargo Quarantine is a digital game created by Audivio Studios in Catalunya, Spain.
Style of Play: light puzzle hunt
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection
Although the game instructions say you need a Whatsapp account, we did not need one to play.
Recommended Team Size: 2-4
Play Time: about 2.5 – 3 hours
Price: $2.50 per person
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure either solo or by collaborating with remote teammates through Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc. (by screensharing the game or playing with separate instances of the game and discussing)
You receive a stream of simulated text messages to advance the story and provide puzzle information, sometimes with audio and video clips. Some puzzles require external websites and online tools.
Hivemind Review Scale
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Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction
Pentargo Quarantine has the makings of a quality puzzle hunt hidden underneath some issues that could be resolved. There are some localization issues with the Spanish-to-English translation that would benefit from being cleaned up for presentation to a large audience. More importantly, some answers were in Spanish, even for the English version. This made sense in context, but I could not find the right Spanish translation without consulting the very helpful and very detailed hint system provided by the game. The puzzles themselves played across a wide spectrum of difficulty. Some required logic leaps and usage of the hint system, while other solutions were handed to you. In the middle, there were some fun puzzles that solved well. Perhaps the biggest mark against Pentargo Quarantine is the theme. It’s art imitating life a bit too much and comes off as tone-deaf. This could be a better game with some tweaks, but I feel we should let the virus settle down in real life before we take it on in a game.
Brett Kuehner’s Reaction
Note: I played this in English, and that affected my experience. Someone who played in Spanish would probably avoid some of these issues.
- + Beginning has a strong story and good interface
- + Most of the dialogue and puzzles are well translated
- – One puzzle is given and clued in English (mostly), but the answer is in Spanish
- – You need to know that the Spanish alphabet is generally considered to have 27 letters
- – A few puzzles have problems with cluing, a red herring, or ambiguity about which puzzle an answer applies to
- – Ending throws all sorts of things into the plot, which left me confused
- + Game is inexpensive ($2.50 per player) and some of the money will be donated to healthcare organizations
- – There were several plot aspects I found distasteful or ill-advised and unnecessary (for example, COVID-19 as a Chinese conspiracy)
You may find the game more appealing if pointless unpleasantness doesn’t bother you.
Cara Mandel’s Reaction
I’m not going to lie; I struggled with this review. On the one hand, this was a very ambitious game. It’s fully automated, including multiple kinds of puzzling and detective work, chat bot interactions, and more! Where I struggled was with the content of the game. The plot line is confusing at best, and perhaps offensive at worst (depending on your level of sensitivity). There were also some slight hiccups with language translation as this game was originally intended to be played in Spanish. All that said, it really is an interesting game experiment and makes for a fascinating couple of hours. It’s for that reason that I chose to recommend it during quarantine rather than not at all. If you have time and morbid curiosity, give it a go!
Tammy McLeod’s Reaction
This started out promising, albeit with the somewhat overly familiar theme of Coronavirus. There was some occasional ambiguity due this having been originally a Spanish game. When solving, I tend to focus on the puzzles, and I found the twisting storyline of this game tough to keep track of. I eventually forgot who I was interacting with, and why. Additionally, the theme started to encompass multiple escape room tropes, and the tone of the game got rather dark. Perhaps playing this with the expectations of a puzzle experience, and getting a more ARG-style, slightly-haunt-adjacent experience, prevented me from enjoying this as much as someone else with those preferences would have enjoyed it.
Theresa W’s Reaction
If you enjoy story-driven mystery games similar to Hunt a Killer, this may be the game for you — I will be the first to admit that this game just wasn’t for me. Pentargo Quarantine unfortunately went downhill with the puzzles and story as the game progressed. The opening sequence had some strong interactions and puzzles, yet the game closed with a seemingly disjointed story and confusing late-game sequences. There were a few puzzle solutions that would have been nearly impossible without a teammate familiar with Spanish. Some of the story sequences used language and plot points that left members of our team uncomfortable. Pentargo Quarantine did use some interesting web-based tools to spice up the gameplay, leading to some interesting and unique solves.
Disclosure: Audivio Studios provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.