Hatch Escapes – Mother of Frankenstein [Review]

Love, scandal, & puzzles

Location:  at home

Date Played: September 13, 2020

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 3-5 hours

Price: back on Kickstarter at $89 for the standard edition of the game

REA Reaction

Mother of Frankenstein was a narrative-driven experience with ample puzzle content.

Hatch Escapes has a history of putting story at the center of their productions. One of their co-founders Tommy Wallach is a New York Times bestselling author… and his expertise showed in Mother of Frankenstein. The writing was fantastic, which it needed to be. When a company makes the bold decision to retell the story of one of history’s most significant authors through an immersive narrative, writing quality matters.

Beyond the writing, Mother of Frankenstein included high quality puzzles and production (of the beta version). The Astronomy puzzle in particular was a standout puzzle, not just in this game; it ranks among my favorite puzzles.

An assortment of red, green, and brown interlocking tracks each with a symbol in the center.

We played about 40% of the full 3-volume game, and between that experience and hearing more about what is coming next, I can comfortably say that we are sold on Mother of Frankenstein.

If you’re down for a narrative-focused experience with puzzle content evenly and thoroughly dispersed throughout, I’d strongly recommend backing this beast on Kickstarter. I’m already eager to continue the journey.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Exceptional writing, characterization, and voicing
  • Solid puzzling with a couple of true standouts

Story

Over the course of 3 volumes, Mother of Frankenstein reimagined the life and experiences of Mary Shelley that led to her writing Frankenstein. Shelley was quite the interesting character in her own right.

A welcome letter tied off with red, green, and brown ribbon.

Setup

Mother of Frankenstein took place over 3 volumes. We played the beta version of volume 1, and solved the volume 2 jigsaw puzzle.

It was exceptionally easy to start. We opened up the box, read the initial letter, and off we went.

Volume 1 consisted of 3 different paths that culminated in a metapuzzle to pull the story together. Each individual path was easy to identify and start solving.

Hints were available via a website that had no shortage of personality.

3 sealed envelops, one green, one red, and one brown.

Gameplay

Hatch Escapes’ Mother of Frankenstein was a narrative-focused play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around reading and understanding the story, and solving puzzles.

Analysis

➕ The writing brought the characters to life. They had strong voices, and the style of exchanged letters was fun. (Even the hint system was written playfully, which we found amusing.)

❓ Reading was essential to this experience. The writing was strong, and it was worth reading. None of the passages were longer than a page or two, so nothing overstayed its welcome. That said, if you play only for the puzzles and you categorically aren’t interested in taking in story through reading, you’ll be missing out on a lot of what makes Mother of Frankenstein special.

➕ While the writing and narrative were essential, they never obscured or buried the puzzles. It was always clear where to focus our energy.

➕ As we solved, we appreciated the attention to detail and precision involved in crafting these layered puzzles. They were truly impressive works of puzzle craft.

➕ The Astronomy puzzle was an amazing layered creation and a joy to solve. Pure elegance.

➕ The Music puzzle wove the rules of music notation into something else. It was intimidating, but approachable, and satisfying, whether or not you can read music.

➖ The hint system was mostly granular enough, but it would benefit from additional detail in the final steps, and clear explanations for solutions.

➖/➕ Volume 1 was almost entirely paper-based. That said, the more tangible sequence was pretty neat, and based on a glimpse of what’s to follow and a conversation with Hatch Escapes, we expect the subsequent volumes to offer additional tangible gameplay.

➕ We’re genuinely eager to see where Hatch Escape takes this concept. We’ve seen more than enough to feel sold on their concept and approach.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a table or floor space that is at least 25 inches in diameter
  • Required Gear: pen and paper

Back Hatch Escapes’ Mother of Frankenstein on Kickstarter, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Hatch Escapes provided a sample for review.

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