Mystery City – The Monuments Mission [Hivemind Review]

The Monuments Mission is a point-and-click-style game created by Mystery City Games in Amsterdam.

The Monuments Mission logo from Mystery City includes an assortment of documents and keys.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: no timer, but play time is about 1-2 hours

Price: €18 per group

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

In this game, you follow the story of the Monuments Men as they complete various missions to retrieve artwork that was stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Each mission slowly unfolds through alternating story and puzzle sections. The puzzles involve light point-and-click interactions with maps, photographs, and other objects. Overall, there are six missions (plus training), and each mission contains around 5 puzzles.

It was unclear how best to collaborate remotely to play this game. Some of our reviewers opted to play together over Google meet with each player running their own version of the game simultaneously.

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.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Mystery City is all about gamifying history and – as a history teacher – I fully support that. While their previous entry, A Death in the Red Light, was very game-focused with a sprinkling of history, The Monuments Mission provides the very opposite. This game is very story-heavy, though you don’t need to understand the story to make your way through the game. It consists mostly of easier puzzles between a series of files and photographs that tell the story of the Monuments Men’s work during World War II.

The Monuments Mission mostly ran smoothly, but there is room for some quality of life improvements. For example, the area on which you manipulated the images (many puzzles involved dragging picture elements around) tended to be too small, and the images would block other important information. This was true even though there was unusable space on my screen that was out of the game area.

Two puzzles stood out as very good uses of the format, though these alone are not enough for me to recommend this game for someone looking for a challenging puzzle experience. If you’re looking for something educational, though, this would be a good choice.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

The Monuments Mission tells a story about fine arts during the World War II period… I guess.

At its best, the graphics and the theming looked nice, like old cabinet files. The concept of turning a rather dry history lesson into an engaging game was pretty interesting to me. There’s a solid amount of content to go through.

At its worst, I’m not sure how appropriate it is to make a game based on topics like Nazi Germany, for example. There was way too much to read for my taste, to the point where I wasn’t even sure about the overarching storyline. We encountered problems from spelling mistakes, to a broken puzzle with no reset button, all the way to a link that glitched and could not be clicked. Most puzzle ideas felt a bit easy, too short, and repetitive. The way you input your answers let you easily brute-force or skip puzzles. There was a points system, but no apparent scoreboard. The ending was disappointing, or rather, there wasn’t really an ending at all.

Overall it felt like doing homework rather than a fun escape game. Maybe it’s an interesting way to teach history at school?

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

This game, while an interesting walk through history of the Monuments Men, was not very user-friendly and its puzzles were very simple in most cases. There were numerous cases of confusion with instructions, gameplay, and the functionality of the puzzles themselves. This was basically a self-play history tour with light puzzles required to advance and save art treasures. It did not include any interaction with an avatar or have many of the elements traditionally found in an escape room. While for the right audience, the puzzles might be more enjoyable and the graphic layout of the site was well done, I am unable to recommend this game compared to others available in the market. It was too much work to get through in most cases – even though I did really enjoy the history (which was plentiful if you wanted to read it). One of my teammates remarked that this game felt like doing homework. I think that was a pretty good summary statement.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

I really appreciate Mystery City Games’s niche of building games around intriguing and undertold historical stories, and I am a big fan of their other online game, A Death in the Red Light. In this new game, I was unfamiliar with the Monuments Men of World War II, so I found the game’s presentation to be deeply informative and beautifully rendered. I learned a lot, and I’m glad for it.

However, learning does not always equate to fun for me, and the design of this particular experience left it feeling much closer to a high school history assignment than to an entertainment activity. Each vignette in the game consists of a long historical narrative followed by a puzzle that faithfully mimics a part of that story. Unfortunately, the puzzles are so simple and process-oriented that we spent just as much time reading about them as we did completing them. When it became clear that education rather than puzzle-play was the star of this game, the puzzles even started to feel extraneous. I eventually found myself wanting to read the history without being impeded by trivial reenactments of the plot points.

Ultimately, if you approach this game with appropriate expectations, you will likely find a worthwhile experience. I just wouldn’t recommend it as puzzling entertainment.

Disclosure: Mystery City provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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