Bluefish Games – The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks [Review]

Going up!

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 31, 2020

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2

Duration: 3-5 hours (we took considerably less time)

Price: $35

REA Reaction

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks was structurally innovative and filled with strong, crafty puzzles with a robust hint system.

Bluefish Games had been working for years to develop a product that they were happy with… and I know for a fact that they threw away at least one idea that they had gone deep into development on.

Initial opening of the box shows a wide variety of paper components.

Were there a few areas that could have been improved? Sure. The totally fine, but not-on-the-level-of-the-rest-of-the-game final puzzle comes to mind.

Overall, years of quietly testing ideas and honing their product seems to have paid off for Bluefish Games.

If you’re new to tabletop puzzling, this is a great place to start.

If you love tabletop puzzling and you’ve been around the block a few times, I’m betting that The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks will still find a few ways to surprise and delight you.

Recommending this game is an easy decision.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Some innovative puzzle design
  • Smooth gameplay
  • A strong self-service hint system

Story

Eccentric inventor Mr. Stephen P. Hincks had spent years developing his bepuzzled elevator. He was finally ready to show it to us.

Each floor that we visited had a “gift” in the form of a puzzle for us to untangle.

Curious Elevator of Mr Hincks box art, on a card board box.

Setup

We received a package in the mail filled with a variety of different (mostly paper-based) puzzle components… but very few clues within the box as to how to use them.

Once we signed into the The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks website, the light narrative presented additional information and the input mechanisms necessary to progress.

Each puzzle had an easy-to-use self-service set of granular hints. These were accessed via the puzzle’s page on the website.

Gameplay

Bluefish Games’ The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks was a standard play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling, with an emphasis on word puzzle styles.

Analysis

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks was comprised of an adorable collection of tight puzzles with clean solutions. These were a joy to solve.

➕ The materials were largely paper-based, using a wide variety of quality paper stock. It was clear that a lot of thought went into production.

➕ The materials looked and felt good. Different puzzle elements also looked different from each other, which meant we could connect them graphically. Thus we never felt overwhelmed by the volume of materials, and quickly focused our attention on the materials for each puzzle.

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks had a gentle difficulty curve, starting us off with easier puzzles and gradually building us to more challenging solves.

➕ We especially enjoyed the puzzles with tangible elements. These came together in unlikely ways for some especially satisfying solves.

❓ The puzzle style in The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks leaned especially on word puzzles, with good variety within the genre. We enjoy this style of puzzling. Of note, if you are less experienced with or less interested in word puzzles, at times the game expects you to solve with letters in a way that you might consider unclued.

➕/➖ While the digital interface was adorable and worked well, there was an opportunity to add a few quality-of-life improvements for the player, such as a “close” button on popups, or the ability to hit “enter” to submit an answer.

➕ The self-service hint system was detailed, clear, and user-friendly. It was among the best we’ve seen from the tabletop escape game market.

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks resolved to a meta-puzzle and primed players for this element of the game. Players will be prepared to tackle the meta at the end.

➖ Although the meta puzzle came together cleanly, it didn’t add anything to the experience, and was, in fact, a bit less exciting than a few of the puzzles that had come before it.

➕ Bluefish Games surprised us with a wonderful reveal. It was expertly clued, literally.

➕/➖ At the end of the game, we enjoyed reading the guestbook of past solvers. We love the guestbook idea. It contributes to a community feeling, something that was especially fun now, with everyone playing games from home. That said, Bluefish Games called this the “leaderboard” up front, which was a bit misleading. It gave us the impression the game was timing us and our time might be publicly displayed. Truthfully we preferred the guestbook structure to a true leaderboard anyway.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: a computer with an internet connection, pen and paper

Buy your copy of Bluefish Games’ The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Bluefish Games provided a sample for review.

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