Location: at home
Date Played: August 9, 2020
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-3
Duration: about 2-3 hours
Price: $58 plus shipping from the Netherlands
Witchery Spell stood out from the crowd of play-at-home escape games by combining story, puzzles, and design into a polished, cohesive experience. DarkPark Games didn’t just assemble a box full of themed puzzles that could be found in a magazine. They conjured a self-contained experience that felt magical from start to finish.
Through its intricate physical elements, realistic websites, and player-driven gameplay, Witchery Spell made us feel like part of the story. The props and documents included in the box were clearly chosen and created with care. It was easy to ignore the few hiccups we ran into as we pursued the mystery to its conclusion.
The story was perilous and suspenseful, but more mystical than scary. Along with the moderate difficulty level, this makes Witchery Spell approachable to anyone who’s comfortable with the occult theme and slightly dark storyline.
Witchery Spell was comparatively expensive for a play-at-home game, especially with international shipping. If cost is a factor, it’s much more affordable to grab a refill kit or two and find someone to split the bill with.
Witchery Spell was a solid example of the potential of interactive storytelling to transport players to another world. The price may seem high, but it reflects the quality and value of this unique game. Not having had the opportunity to play any of DarkPark’s real life games myself, I can safely say Witchery Spell lived up to their reputation.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Story seekers
- Sorcery enthusiasts
- Any experience level
- Intricate, tactile components
- Puzzle–story integration
- Magical ambiance
Years ago, five young girls found an old book and followed a ritual within, binding them into a coven. When one of the five disappeared after her 23rd birthday, the remaining four sent us a package of mysterious items to investigate. Our goal was to save them from the same fate.
DarkPark provided mystical artifacts and detailed documents for us to explore as we solved individual puzzles to unravel the larger mystery. We regularly accessed websites to solve puzzles or make progress in the story. The quality and authenticity of these elements drew us into the story and imbued our living room with magic.
Witchery Spell was a play-at-home immersive puzzle game with a medium level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around deduction, decryption, pattern recognition, and ritual.
The game unfolded through investigation of the box’s contents, which led us to combine elements in exciting and surprising ways. We also navigated websites as part of our information gathering.
There was no time limit; we could explore and solve at our leisure. DarkPark Games provided a self-service hint webpage as part of the game in case we got stuck.
➕ Witchery Spell simulated a feeling of enchantment about as well as possible without including actual magical items in the game. DarkPark Games made it easy to suspend our disbelief and feel the magic of the rituals we performed.
➕ The physical components of Witchery Spell filled us with wonder. The contents of the box looked beautiful and felt authentic to the tale of witchcraft we uncovered throughout the evening. Each item got its moment to shine. The production quality exceeded any play-at-home game we’d tried, giving the experience a cinematic feel.
➖ During its long shipping journey, a jar opened in transit and thoroughly seasoned the game box with its contents. We were able to work around it, but packing the items more securely might prevent this sort of mishap.
➕ Witchery Spell provided more than just witchcraft-themed puzzles. The puzzles intertwined with our investigation of the five young witches’ story in a natural way—even the paper-based puzzles. For the most part, they felt like they could only be part of this specific story. They also provided some satisfying aha moments, especially an unexpected use of a common item included within the game.
➕ The websites were well designed and felt like part of the story. They added to the mystery and adventure by evoking a larger world beyond the contents of the box.
➕ DarkPark Games has improved their hint system since launching their previous play-at-home game. The self-service hint page was comprehensive and avoided spoiling later puzzles. It also provided a list of the box’s contents in case we felt something was missing.
➖ At one point when we entered an incorrect guess into a website, we received a hint that basically spoon-fed us the answer. We would have preferred to arrive at that insight on our own.
➕ The beginning of Witchery Spell eased us into the challenge and provided context for the experience ahead. This worked more smoothly than just presenting a box of stuff all at once for us to sort through. After that, discovering the purpose of the box’s contents became an exciting part of the game.
➕/➖ The ending diverged from the usual “congratulations, you did it!” in a way that was unexpected and clever. However, one of Witchery Spell’s final concoctions was one part delightful and one part confusing. We found ourselves searching for an explanation, but ultimately found no answers.
➕ The story and gameplay flowed well throughout the experience. Besides the general urgency of our mission, DarkPark Games did not force or even suggest a time limit. This structure allowed the story to expand and heightened the magic and suspense.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a small table
- Required Gear: pen or pencil, computer with internet access, a small receptacle
- Keep an eye out for the “acting” debut of one of REA’s founders. Volunteering as an Easter egg for the production was an amusing quarantine diversion.
Witchery Spell is best played in the evening. Dim the lights and embrace the magic.
Some of the elements are destructible, but you can purchase a refill kit from DarkPark and reset the game for another group to play.
Buy your copy of DarkPark Games’ Witchery Spell, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: DarkPark provided a sample for review.