co-decode – Oldervik Online: Chapter 2 Operative Onboard [Hivemind Review]

Oldervik Online: Chapter 2 Operative Onboard is a print-and-play escape game that relied heavily on QR codes, created by co-decode in Swindon, England.

A phone scanning a QR code fom a collection of printed puzzle pages.

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.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 1.5 hours – 3.5 hours

Price: £12.99

Booking: You will receive an email shortly after completing your order containing an encrypted link to activate the game (digital version) or download the print-and-play files (print-at-home version).

Description

Like its predecessor, this game consists of printed illustrations with embedded QR codes. To “search” the scenario, you scan each QR code to launch a website that provides more information, interactive illustrations, and/ or a field for entering a puzzle solution. As you discover objects of interest, you receive keywords that you can enter as solutions to puzzles. As you solve puzzles, you change the state of the rooms by taping replacement QR codes over the originals.

New for this chapter is a web app that you must use on a computer for part of the game. The app lets you scroll around a train car looking for clues and more QR codes, offering yet another way to “search.”

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.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Even without playing the first game, I thoroughly enjoyed Oldervik Online: Chapter 2 Operative Onboard. Co-decode did a really incredible job taking something that’s typically a bore (QR codes) and transforming them throughout the game. They recommend having two devices to scan codes, so playing solo was definitely a challenge.

The game was able to deliver many tangible components, both digitally and physically, with only a small amount of printing. The puzzles were all of a good difficulty level, and all made sense. The gameflow was strong, as multiple puzzles could be solved simultaneously. Co-decode did a great job of integrating the story with the gameplay, as they sprinkled tidbits throughout and wrapped it up at the end (even including a summary of what happened, and a full game sequence). This game made me want to go back and play their first one, and I am excited for the third installment!

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Unfortunately, this was my first Hivemind game with a “DNF” – did not finish.

At its best, the premise of the story sounded fun. Even if you haven’t played Chapter 1, you can get into the story easily. The idea of scanning QR-Codes is nice in theory.

At its worst, the game system felt extremely clunky. You’re handling paper, multiple taps on your smartphone, and some taps on a laptop at the same time. Some puzzle components felt uninspired (like building a cube), and usually cutting stuff out was rather annoying. Some taped together QR-Codes did not scan properly.

When it came to a large puzzle requiring extensive swiping action, I actually lost interest in finishing the game.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Although this game retains the aspects that I enjoyed in Chapter 1 (unique, multilayered puzzles, a progressively unfolding story, and novel gameplay interactions), the tedium of the game mechanics finally caught up to me in this installment. This was due in large part to the addition of a laggy web app that simulates exploring the luggage car of a train. I loved this idea in concept, but in reality it was overly painful to use. Beyond the new web app, I also found the basic game mechanics less tolerable this time around, possibly because they didn’t scale well with this more elaborate game. I love gathering and connecting multiple clues to solve a single puzzle, but when each of those clues is delivered via a separate QR scan and website on my phone, keeping track of that information becomes its own puzzle…and not the kind I like. Thus, the most intricate puzzles, while intellectually entertaining, also suffered the most from the limits of the delivery system, requiring the most scans and websites and back-and-forth among them. By the end, I just felt tired rather than accomplished, which is a shame because the content itself is genuinely engaging.

Disclosure: co-decode provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

2 thoughts on “co-decode – Oldervik Online: Chapter 2 Operative Onboard [Hivemind Review]

  1. Huh — reading everyone else’s review, this is a really interesting hivemind perspective. I think the game would have been a lot different had I not used my PC entirely (scanning QR codes with my webcam, opening the tabs on two monitors, etc), and I had no technical issues, but my computer was also built for streaming/games. I really wonder if my experience would have been a lot different if I played on mobile, or even a different computer.

  2. Yes, I imagine my experience would have been smoother if we’d played on the family gaming computer, but I anticipated more of a tabletop experience from this game…so we set up on a table 🙂 We played with our phones for the QR codes (like we did for Chapter 1) and my laptop for the web app. The laptop certainly isn’t a gaming machine, but it’s new enough that I definitely expected it to support a game like this, especially because the game wasn’t nearly as video intensive as other games I’ve played successfully on this computer.

    That said, tab management isn’t my favorite thing regardless, so even on a more robust machine, I probably still would have found that aspect of the game to be somewhat tedious.

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