The Chernobyl Septology [Hivemind Review]

The Chernobyl Septology is a light online puzzle hunt created by Wild Child in Israel.

This review is based on chapters 1-3 of this 7-part series, released episodically from March 24 – May 5, 2021.

A photo in Google Street view of the ruins of Chernobyl.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection

Make sure your computer can load the 360-degree images. Also, it’ll be helpful if you set up an online drawing collaboration tool that all team members can draw on.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: about 60-90 minutes per chapter (for each of the first 3 chapters)

Price: $30 per team (up to 5 connections) for all 7 chapters. This discounted price is available through April 2021. Starting in May 2021, the price is $60 per team.

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Players log into the website and assemble their team. You can then select a mission from the chapter you want to solve, and you’re taken to an image of the puzzle to solve, along with a Google Earth link that you need to research to find the puzzle solution. Most solutions are a single English word.

Chapter 1 title card: Core Galore

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 Piazza’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Chernobyl Septology is an interesting way to explore the unexplorable. There’s a lot of puzzling content, and while the puzzles are not mind-blowing, they vary in style, structure, and difficulty enough to keep solvers interested for the 3 chapters we played so far. I appreciate that the facts and history which accompany each mission are provided after the solve, so that the educational flavor text (often skipped over in the heat of the moment in escape rooms or competitive puzzle solving experiences) doesn’t get glossed over or skipped while players are trying to solve. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 4 chapters hold!

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

The Chernobyl Septology really surprised me. The core gameplay was based around having a 360-degree image actually at Chernobyl on Google Earth and solving puzzles involved in the scenery. The absolutely insane elements that the designers found in these images to transform into puzzles blew me away. The puzzles almost felt like they should be made there. A good amount of the puzzles had great aha moments, yet a handful fell short. The addition of little blurbs of history regarding the photo you were looking at enhanced the experience. For the money, this is absolutely worth playing if light puzzle hunts are your thing!

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Chernobyl Septology is far from perfect, but it sure is interesting. If in-depth exploration of some incredibly surreal 360-degree views of modern Chernobyl sounds like fun, and if you have the tolerance for generally clever but inconsistent puzzle design, then this is the game for you. The game excels in casting a “puzzle perspective” on the real world, prompting the solver to seek patterns and layers of hidden meaning which consequently lead them to notice countless other wondrous details in these real-world environments. Each puzzle is also followed up by related historical facts. The puzzle design is idiosyncratic and varied in style and difficulty, but I was frustrated and disappointed by a few puzzles with arbitrary or poorly clued solution paths. These design flaws were further aggravated by the lack of a hint system. Nonetheless, this game presents an impressive amount of content for a very reasonable price. I’ve enjoyed the first three parts overall, and I’m looking forward to playing the remaining four as they are released.

Disclosure: Wild Child provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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