co-decode – Oldervik Online: Chapter 1 A Jewel in Jeopardy [Hivemind Review]

Oldervik Online: Chapter 1 A Jewel in Jeopardy is a print-and-play escape game that relied heavily on QR codes, created by co-decode in Swindon, United Kingdom.

A black & white printed page depicting a decktop labeled with QR codes.

Format

Style of Play: print-and-play escape game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, printer, pen and paper, scissors, glue stick or clear tape, and at least 2 mobile devices

The game recommends at least two mobile devices, which was definitely useful. We also recommend playing on a large tablet with a camera.

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: play at your own pace, listed par time of 2 hours

Price: £8.99

Booking: When you purchase the game, it is emailed to you sometime after the purchase is completed. Since the email is not automatically triggered when you purchase, you should buy the game a day in advance of your intended playtime.

Description

After printing the 4-page game, we sat down at a table with a pen, paper, scissors, and a glue stick. We read the instructions, cut out a few components, and began to explore the game via QR codes on the printed room layouts. The QR codes brought us to puzzle pages, frequently with password fields. Upon solving a puzzle, we were instructed to cut out a different QR code and paste it over the original. This new QR code changed the state of the room, and when scanned, took us to a new puzzle page. Repeat until victory.

A 3D rendering of a small key.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

Theresa Piazza’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Oldervik Online: Chapter 1 A Jewel in Jeopardy is best for two players in the same physical space. With 4 sheets of printed paper, co-decode made a 2D play-at-home escape room you could unlock and explore. This game is best played on an iPad, or other large tablet device with a camera, as this prevents both players from being glued to their phones. Most puzzles solved cleanly, but there was room for improvement with cluing a late-game puzzle, as the current construction has players guessing the answer instead of reasoning it out. A Jewel in Jeopardy is worth a play if you’re quarantining with someone, but probably not worth the effort to play remotely with someone else.

A black & white printed page depicting a bookcase labeled with QR codes.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Don’t let first impressions fool you; this game is more than an onslaught of QR codes overlaying a mundane bookcase and desk. I kind of (irrationally?) hate QR codes, but I still enjoyed this game and appreciated seeing a unique approach to mimicking a search experience. The game’s strengths lie in the depth of its multi-layered puzzles and a design that asks you to combine information from multiple sources rather than handholding you through the puzzling order. And, I learned a new word! For the price, the experience delivered, so we’ll be playing the second installment!

An intro letter about the search for an artifact.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Oldervik Online: Chapter 1 A Jewel in Jeopardy is a pleasant digital game that novice puzzlers and families would likely enjoy. Though the puzzles felt a bit like a survey of beginner escape room and cipher tropes, most were well designed and nicely contextualized by regular story interludes.

As a print-and-play, however, the game fell quite flat for me, making no use of tactile paper puzzles and instead overrelying on an uninteresting QR code gimmick. The printed elements of the game would be much better served as a dynamic web interface, particularly since tab management on mobile devices (as necessitated by a slew of QR codes) is an absolute nightmare.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

I keep forgetting the name of Oldervik Online: Chapter 1 A Jewel in Jeopardy, so I’ve been referring to it as “QR Code: The Game.”

I was genuinely impressed with what this game accomplished with 4 sheets of printer paper and a website. It felt sufficiently escape room-y, and the dynamic of pasting new QR codes over the old ones after we took an action that changed something in the room was simple yet effective.

The website was a bit clunky (password fields were far too particular) and the final puzzle had an unclued nuance that I quite reasonably inverted, which caused the whole finale to fail and fizzle. (Thankfully, the hint system did save me a lot of rework.)

QR Code: The Game was a fun way to spend some quarantime. I’m genuinely glad that I played one chapter.

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