clueQuest – Print + Cut + Escape Episode 2: Alpha Brain System [Hivemind Review]

Alpha Brain System is a print-and-play escape game created by clueQuest in London, England.

Colored pencils atop a colored in printed page.

Format

Style of Play: print-and-play escape game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, printer, pen and paper, and scissors

You definitely need to print. Be precise with cutting on the Prologue.

Make sure to test print a couple of pages first to make sure the images are printing with the correct margins and alignment.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: £12

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

The game includes a 26-page PDF full of puzzle pieces to print and cut out, an online app, and a unique access code for registering your team in the app. The app guides you through the story one “chapter” at a time, serving up videos, audio, and simple gadgets for entering solutions. You refer to the printed puzzle pieces that correspond to the chapter.

Cut up pages and a scissor.

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.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

This print-cut-and-play escape game is the second episode in what is currently a three-part storyline. You can jump straight into episode two and you’ll get what’s going on.

At its best, it’s a nice combination of puzzling offline and password inputs online. There’s a distinct and pretty aesthetic throughout the entire game. The story gets told through entertaining videos. The puzzles have a great balance of difficulty. They’re clever and often bring an aha moment.

At its worst, there’s a lot to be printed and cut. Tip: Print two pages on one (single-sided) page to save some paper. It makes everything smaller, but the puzzles still work. A pet peeve of mine is when objects get used for more than one puzzle. ClueQuest gives you a heads up about keeping solved puzzles nearby. However, I thought this was not a creative design choice. In one instance a folding instruction seemed confusing. After solving the puzzle unfolded, it made sense.

For 12 pounds, it’s a steal. Get it!

A video intro to the experience.

Michelle Calabro’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

After all the pieces were cut, I brought out my colored pencils and put on some music, pausing it only to watch the cutscenes, which provided context for each puzzle. In the first scene, our friend got into a golf ball (not a plane, LOL) and travelled across time zones. I couldn’t help but pause to color in the beautiful illustration of our friend in his golf ball. Then I moved on to the rest of the game.

There are obvious things to love about the puzzles: they are well suited to the paper-based format, they have been crafted with care and are quite beautiful, and they advance each scene of the story. Just like Episode 1: Stolen IQ, the story of Episode 2: Alpha Brain System artfully balances weightier themes with humor and beauty. Every now and then I took a break from solving puzzles to color in the beautiful artwork, and while I was coloring, I discovered intriguing parts of the puzzles and got back to solving them. At certain moments in the game there were minor imperfections in interface and instructional design, but honestly those receded far into the background in comparison to the compelling story and beautiful puzzles.

I loved this game enough to text my friends that they should play it, and you should too. Even a few days later, I wish I hadn’t completed the game so I could still be playing it now. Good thing there’s Part 3 to look forward to!

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Although the puzzles make effective use of the print medium and impressively incorporate 3D space, I found this game to be more tedious than the first installment of the series. Some of the puzzle constructions are genuinely unique and fun to figure out what to do. However, my initial delight in each puzzle too often turned to agitation in light of needing to repeat laborious mechanics to piece together each solution. I felt drained by the end rather than satisfied. That said, if you have a preference (or even just a higher tolerance) for this kind of rigor, this is still a solid play for the price.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I didn’t think I’d like a print-and-play game more than ClueQuest’s first game, but Episode 2: Alpha Brain System blew me away. This was the first game where the cutting time felt justified and necessary. ClueQuest was able to use 3D elements in a game entirely composed of paper; this was beautifully executed. At multiple points, the game provided you with an engine to build your puzzle solution with, instead of just a puzzle + an answer — they were multi-layered and complex, yet approachable and engaging. There was one puzzle where the final input/answer was unclear and a tiny bit of clarification would go a long way. Even if you don’t have a printer, this game is worth going out of your way to get printed.

Disclosure: clueQuest provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Disclosure: clueQuest was a vendor at RECON 20.

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