Bluefish Games – The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks [Review]

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Location:  at home

Date Played: October 5, 2020

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2

Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours

Price: $17

REA Reaction

If you liked The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, then I suspect that you’ll love The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hinks.

The timeline and order of things here is a little funky, and it took playing to resolve our confusion:

  • Stairs is a narrative prequel to Elevator
  • Stairs is a functional sequel to Elevator
  • You should play Elevator first because Stairs is noticeably more challenging

For all of the tabletop puzzle game companies producing new products, there are next to no games that build upon one another in difficulty or complexity. Every game is its own standalone thing; some just have the same rules. Stairs, however, built upon the style, if not the ideas, in Elevator, with more complex puzzles, not longer or bigger puzzles, and it worked.

Assorted componnts include a n 8 bit "Dino Hop" strategy guide, unusual playing cards, a pizza menu, and some unusual flattened cardboard boxes.

We really enjoyed this series, and recommend it for the more puzzle-minded tabletop players. It looks good, but this isn’t a game that you buy for beautiful props to display; you get it to solve it. Play The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks first, and if that’s your type of game, The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks will feel like a step or two up.

Who is this for?

Why play?

  • Elegant puzzle design
  • A strong self-service hint system

Story

Before Mr. Hinks built a puzzle elevator, he created a shorter, more challenging set of puzzle stairs. We had been invited to climb them.

Yellow "Curious Stairs of Mr Hinks" box sitting inside the "Curious Elevator's" box/

Setup

Functionally, The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks operated in the exact same way as The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, so you can read the description in the original review.

The key difference with Stairs was that it had fewer puzzles with more depth.

Gameplay

Bluefish Games’ The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks was a standard play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling, with an emphasis on word puzzle styles.

Pencil mounted to the top of the Curious Elevator's box.

Analysis

➕ As with each game we’ve played by Bluefish Games, the writing in The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks was hilarious. We thoroughly enjoy this witty, humorous writing style.

➕ While there weren’t that many puzzles included, each one was a substantial, layered solve. We enjoyed this style.

➕ Early on in each puzzle, there was key a realization. This kept us from ever exploring a wrong idea too deeply.

➖ There were opportunities for better precision. Imprecise materials – and structural challenges to some materials – caused us to doubt the game early on, when we were on the right track.

➕ Let’s talk about the Dino Hop puzzle for a moment. I loved this puzzle and its theming. If Bluefish Games expanded this idea into an app, I’d happily buy it.

Yellow "Curious Stairs of Mr Hinks" box sitting inside the "Curious Elevator's" box/

➕ Graphically, the puzzle components tied together well.

➕ Bluefish Games stepped it up with an unusual and fitting meta concept.

➕/❓The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks involved digging deeper than we were expecting at the onset, given its predecessor. While on the surface the games feel quite similar in style, in practice they solve rather differently. We appreciated the shift, but your mileage may vary.

❓ Like its predecessor, the style of this game is word-heavy. If you go in expecting this style of challenge, you’ll have more success.

➖ The extraction layer for these puzzles sometimes felt like a bit of a stretch, and we were happy for a leg up in the form of software.

The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks felt like it belonged with The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks. They were two games from the same world, and we appreciated the new, combined packaging for those who purchase both games as a bundle.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: an internet-connected device, a pen and scrap paper

Buy your copy of Bluefish Games’ The Curious Stairs of Mr. Hincks, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Bluefish Games provided a sample for review.

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