Gaggle Studios – Return of the Mayan Curse [Hivemind Review]

Return of the Mayan Curse is a collaborative, multiplayer point-and-click adventure game created by Gaggle Studios.

Mayan temple exterior, a tall set of stone stairs approaching a temple entrance.

Format

Style of Play: point-and-click with multiplayer support and integrated video conferencing

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection (mandatory), webcam (optional), microphone (mandatory), headphones (highly recommended)

Also, a mouse is recommended over a trackpad.

The game requires you to download a client. It’s relatively small and the website lists the minimum computer specifications.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: The game clock is 60 minutes, but the game key gives you a 120-minute connection to play.

Price: $29.99 for up to 4 players

Booking: Purchase a game key, download and install the software, and play at your leisure.

Description

Collaborate with up to 3 other teammates – each on their own device – to click around the rooms and solve puzzles; communication is a must.

Audio and video streams funnel through the game, so you can see and hear your remote teammates within the game itself. Every player watches synchronized cutscenes, and then explores independently and interacts with the items they find. When one player solves a puzzle or takes an item, everyone else’s view changes accordingly, keeping everyone in sync.

Collapsed floor inside the temple.

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.

This game surprised me – I genuinely wasn’t sure what to expect with a point-and-click escape game in a stand-alone application, but I was pleasantly surprised. Players were able to explore the scenes on their own, yet were able to see other players’ cursors and know exactly where they were. The game was fully synchronous, as when someone entered a code or opened a door, it opened for everyone. The integrated camera and microphone worked great and were a good addition.

There were quite a few aha moments, and overall the puzzle flow was good. A handful of times our team wished there was a bit more cluing, and the walkthrough video was incredibly difficult to find after we’d started the game. This team is doing something unique with their game, and it definitely is worth checking out!

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.
  • – I downloaded and installed the app a few days in advance, but had to download it again the day of the game because of an update
  • – Had to create an account to play the game
  • – Once you start the game, you only have a limited window to complete it
  • + Audio and graphics are high quality
  • +/- If one player leaves the game, the game is paused for everyone
  • + Integrated voice and video makes for a smoother experience than with a separate videoconference window
  • + The game takes advantage of the multiplayer aspect in the gameplay.
  • – Echo cancellation was erratic. A headset is definitely required.
  • – The only hints available are via a YouTube video walkthrough, and the link to that is only provided during install
  • – The game ejected all the players at one point, and we all had to reconnect. It did return us to the same point we were at.
  • + Players can pick up objects individually, and can pass objects to each other
  • +/- Most puzzles were OK, but one or two were needlessly complicated by interface design

Despite the above negatives, I think there is a good game engine and some enjoyable puzzles. I hope the problems we ran into are fixed, and I’ll try the next game from this company when it is released.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Return of the Mayan Curse is less of a standard escape game and more of a pure puzzle video game. Once installed, you enter your game key and connect to the game as well as to audio and video chat with your teammates. This was a great feature and worked well for the most part, though we did have some audio echo that started about halfway through the game. Return of the Mayan Curse does a good job of converting standard escape game-style puzzles into the digital space, though at times it can feel like a pixel hunt as well. Many of the puzzles required communication to complete, which was complemented by the built-in audio and video chat. Because Return of the Mayan Curse is software-based, it runs the risk of bugs and crashes like any other software. Our team did experience some issues early on, but we were able to get through them and complete the game. This is the first offering of its kind from this company and I’m eager to see how the experience improves in the next iteration.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

By making player interactions central to its design, Return of the Mayan Curse comes the closest I’ve seen to mimicking a real-life escape room with a multiplayer point-and-click format. The fact that it integrates the players’ video and audio into the game (rather than relying on a separate Zoom call) is not so much a convenience as it is a fundamental element of gameplay. Through clever game design and game mechanics, they open up all sorts of elegant possibilities for parallel solving, partial-knowledge collaboration puzzles, and focused teamwork among subsets of players. Individual inventories complement this design by simulating the in-person reality of not necessarily knowing what items everyone has available to them at a given time. Add to these features the more common (but no less impressive) ingredients of stunning graphics, satisfying puzzles, and fun discoveries, and you have the recipe for a truly rich collaborative experience.

All that said, as Gaggle Studio’s inaugural game with this feature set Return of the Mayan Curse shows some rough edges to polish before realizing the full potential of the format. In particular, the cursor lags quite a bit, making the fundamental “point-and-click” action a perpetual frustration. A mouse helps significantly, so using one may heavily influence your enjoyment of the game. Also, while I love a good “describe these difficult-to-describe-symbols to my teammates” puzzle, this pattern overstayed its welcome for me, leaving room for more puzzle variety.

Overall, my entire team had a blast, so I can’t wait to see how Gaggle Studios refines and combines these elements in their future games. It seems to me like they have the makings of a really neat line of games.

Use the code REA10 to get 10% off your purchase, and REA will receive a small commission as well.

Disclosure: Gaggle Studios provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play. REA will receive a small commission if you use the code above at checkout. The Hivemind reviewers were not aware of the commission at the time they authored their reviews.

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