Codebreakers – #MISSING [Hivemind Review]

#MISSING is a light puzzle hunt created by Codebreakers in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Image on Facebook of a woman from behind, a grid of numbers tattooed between her shoulder blades.

Format

Style of Play: light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection and a mobile device

Facebook and Instagram are required. You will also need to call an international number (+44); our reviewers used WhatsApp.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: There is no time limit, but probably about 60 – 90 minutes.

Price: NZ$ 20.00 per team

Booking: purchase the game and play at your leisure

Description

This is a puzzle hunt-style game that requires you to interact with multimedia clues (email, Facebook, audio clips, video, etc.) to find clues about a missing woman.

You can play alone or you can set up a Zoom or similar videoconference to play with friends using a screen share. If you screen share, we suggest each player also plays along on their own screen.

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.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

#MISSING by Codebreakers is a respectably designed, entry-level online game. It uses a series of clues buried within a web of fake social media profiles and chatbot interactions. Though not terribly difficult, I’d recommend this game for some beginner/ intermediate level sleuths who would like to feel as though they’re assisting in something of an online search operation. Compared to the previous offering from the same company, I found this game to be of a lower difficulty level. If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, I’d suggest their game Hunting a Killer.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

This game makes you feel like a true detective, scrolling through various social media profiles, looking things up on Google maps, and finding some dubious pictures online.

At its best, the chatbot system ran very smoothly. The creators are pros at building ARG social media personas, so the research during the game felt pretty real. The story had a nice twist (even if it wasn’t the most original one). The puzzles are good for beginners.

At its worst, you need a Facebook account to play, and some people don’t use that platform. As I already criticized in the review of their previous game, towards the end you suddenly hit an “all or nothing”/ “you only get one chance” question. Losing in the end because of one wrong answer would be overly frustrating. It’s even done twice here.

Overall the puzzles might be a tad bit on the easy side for me, but I still had a great evening training my observing skills.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

If you’re new to the mystery puzzle genre of games, or prefer the puzzles well on the easy side — #MISSING is the game for you. Although none of the puzzles were groundbreaking, the game had a nice flow and a solid story. The game is centered around quite a lot of social media searching. While it’s best for one person to screen share the chatbot, having each user individually dig through the social media accounts worked very well.

Fro’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

#MISSING had a few features I really enjoyed, most notably the use of Facebook to glean information and learn about various characters. As our team explored pictures and posts to find clues, I found myself wanting to know more about these people, and even started filling in their backstories in my head. Beyond Facebook, overall I liked the interactions we had with the game world across a variety of other media (audio, video, etc.). The plot fell a bit flat for me and failed to convey a sense of urgency until the very end, so I never became all that invested in the main character. I also found the experience clunky to play over Zoom, and would recommend future play as a solo game or for two people sharing a laptop. I am a big fan of this style of game that you can play on your own at any time, and would be interested in similar experiences.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

#MISSING is a clean and polished ARG-style adventure with a contrived action plot, and while the game was fun, it felt like something was, well, missing. Early on, I remarked to my teammates that “I think this is my third or fourth time hacking into someone’s email this week,” and that feeling of playing the same tropes I’ve seen time and time again in other games continued throughout. Moreover, the spoon-fed straightforwardness of the puzzles elicited a levity at odds with the seriousness of the subject matter, though I’d level parallel critique against many anti-realistic blockbuster films. For the same reasons I feel ambivalent about this game, however, I think it’d provide an exciting on-ramp for players new to ARGs for whom the extra handholding is a strong positive rather than mildly immersion breaking. The gameplay and plot truly are well conceived and implemented for what they are.

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