Great Gotham Challenge – CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 [Hivemind Review]

CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 is a puzzle hunt game created by Great Gotham Challenge in New York City. This review covers only Chapter 2, which took place in July 2020. (Chapter 1 took place in May 2020.)

A person in a cyber-punk scene whereing neon goggles, obscuring his identity.


Style of Play: puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 4

Play Time: 3 hours

Price: $40 for a team of 4 players

Booking: This event has concluded, but you can subscribe to the Great Gotham Challenge to learn about future events.


CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 began and ended in a group Zoom call. Then teams used a specific Great Gotham Challenge website – and the rest of the internet – to solve the puzzles laid out before them, working on one puzzle at a time. Once a team solved a puzzle, they input the answer into the online app and if correct, automatically received the next clue.

Hivemind Review Scale

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

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 was so well executed that upon its completion – in full disclosure – I immediately hired the creators to run a team-building event for my group at work. The puzzles were clever and challenging and made excellent use of their medium (the internet). The theme was cohesive and intriguing. The hint system was well thought out. Overall, this was an excellent advanced puzzling experience that I’d recommend for any group of puzzle enthusiasts. I look forward to their next one!

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 unfortunately did not live up to the expectations that Chapter 1 had set. In Chapter 2, the puzzles had many red herrings and sent our team down some crazy rabbit holes. The hints did not help us when we needed them. Some outside knowledge was needed that was impossible to even Google, and the “tell me the answer” hint told us to consult others outside the game. Our team ended up giving up halfway through, taking a break, and coming back to finish the game later. The latter half of the game flow was smooth, and had one really satisfying solve.

I’m so torn on whether to recommend this for future runnings — I had an absolutely splendid time in Chapter 1, but I could have lived without Chapter 2. If the game is offered again by chapter, I’d recommend playing the first and not the second. If it’s offered again as a group deal (Chapters 1 & 2 back to back), I’d still say it’s worth a play.

Theresa Piazza’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

As a returning Great Gotham Challenge (GGC) player, I was thrilled to see GGC adapt their typical, real-life, run-around-Manhattan-solving-puzzles-style puzzle hunt to our now socially distant and digital world. CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 was the second half of a hunt that revolved around the painting The Ambassadors. I am no art aficionado, and usually say I don’t “get” art, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff to unpack within this painting and I learned some new things. GGC’s event included puzzles of varying styles, different from both CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 1 and their previous in-person puzzle hunts, and included what I am calling a technical dexterity puzzle (which my team really got hung up on). While going digital, GGC was able to maintain that “all-out sprint to the finish line” by setting up a Zoom room, where immediately upon entry, you could get a sense for how you might have placed, based on whether or not there were other teams in the room with you. GGC creates puzzles that require multiple layers of unpacking to solve, and while that’s not for everyone, I’ll definitely be signing up for their next event.

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