Broken Family Secrets
Location: at home
Date Played: April 13, 2020
Team size: we recommend 2-3
Duration: about 2.5 hours
Price: 1,650 yen or about $20
In World Detective Mystery: The ENIGMA and the Secret Treasure, we followed our main character through the streets of Tokyo in a series of videos, and solved paper puzzles at each juncture.
The videos were the most exciting part of the game. In addition to conveying a strong, intimate story, they were shot as a street-level view into various parts of Tokyo. For people who have been deeply missing travel, this was a strangely compelling surrogate.
That being said, the things that made World Detective Mystery drag cannot be overlooked. Many of the puzzles felt like they were missing key cluing details, giving them a chaotic feel. While we enjoyed the videos, they ran too long and Erika’s narrative leaps were challenging to follow.
Like most Western escape room players, until we played this game from Tokyo Nazotoki Escape, our experience with Japanese-style escape games has been through SCRAP. Upon opening the envelope we found an assortment of puzzles that structurally looked and felt familiar. In practice, however, Tokyo Nazotoki Escape’s puzzles had a different vibe from those of SCRAP.
As a foundation to a series, Tokyo Nazotoki Escape has started off strongly. We enjoyed solving this game. I think with additional refinement, this could become a strong play-at-home product.
Who is this for?
- Puzzle lovers
- Players who miss traveling and want to see Tokyo
- Players with at least some puzzle solving experience
- Japanese sightseeing in the videos
- Some interesting puzzle ahas
We were detectives helping a woman named Erika who had received a letter from her father, who had passed away many years before. He’d left her a puzzle to unravel, which would take her through the streets of Tokyo. We were here to help her solve it.
We’d received an envelope by mail with paper puzzle components. We watched the videos and entered solutions through a web interface.
Tokyo Nazotoki Escape’s World Detective Mystery: The ENIGMA and the Secret Treasure was a standard play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around watching cutscene videos, solving paper-based puzzles, and entering solutions into a web interface.
➕ We appreciate stories that elicit feelings. This game told a story that players can relate to, with characters they can appreciate.
➕ /➖ The video interludes provided the character development. However, we found them to be quite redundant, long, and not always meaningful. These could be improved with additional editing.
➕ The videos showed us Tokyo at eye level. This perspective was especially engaging. In a time when people aren’t traveling, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of a foreign city.
➖ Nothing about the puzzles made sense with the story or setting. The gameplay consisted of a random collection of paper puzzles that could have been found in any puzzle book.
➖ While the puzzles weren’t hard, a few involved more guesswork than we appreciate. Many felt a bit loose. When they did get harder, it was because they became more random. There were opportunities to add clue structure to help players make seemingly random associations. Some of these puzzles would have been better with minor alterations.
➕ Some of the puzzles included unusual connections, resulting in fun aha moments. We especially loved the posted signs.
➖ The hint system was only half useful. There were only 1-2 hints per puzzle. If you become stuck even after receiving a hint, you’ll need to resort to viewing the solution in the webpage source code. The hint system won’t take you all the way to the puzzle solution.
➖ Erika keyed in on things in the videos to advance the plot, but due to the randomness of these associations (i.e. this particular sign, this particular building), we couldn’t do this alongside her, or even follow her spoken logic.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a small table
- Required Gear: an internet-connected device, pen and paper
Buy your copy of Tokyo Nazotoki Escape’s World Detective Mystery: The ENIGMA and the Secret Treasure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Tokyo Nazotoki Escape provided a sample for review.