Puzzleverse – ISS Crisis [Hivemind Review]

ISS Crisis is an online puzzle game created by Puzzleverse.

ISS CRISIS Created by the Puzzleverse cover art of the cosmos displayed in Zoom.


Style of Play:

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

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $20 per person with a minimum of 4 players ($80)

Booking: book online for a specific time slot OR purchase and play at your leisure


Puzzles are presented via Zoom as a series of slides. Players can collaborate verbally and using Zoom annotation tools.

Story card explaining that we work up on the International Space Station and found ourselves locked in our sleeping quarters.

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.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

ISS Crisis was a super light take on puzzle pub trivia. Over Zoom, our team viewed a slide deck with a series of relatively quick brain teaser-style puzzles interspersed with bits of non-interactive story. We used Zoom’s annotate function to somewhat clunkily collaborate, and we called out answers to our game host as we got them. Our game host had a charming, hands-off approach. The slides looked nice, but I was disappointed to find a few typos in the copy and one in a puzzle.

Our team of experienced puzzlers clearly was not the target audience for this game, and I could see it appealing to newer escape room fans or non-puzzlers. From my perspective, though, most of the puzzles were straightforward tropes, a couple had small logical ahas, and one was especially finicky and unsatisfying in the medium presented. A meta component or some mechanic to influence the narrative could have given the game better trajectory and shape. Our team laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, but at the price point presented, this game doesn’t provide nearly enough value for me to recommend it.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.
  • + Pleasant and friendly host
  • + Good puzzle diversity, with attractive graphic design
  • – Having puzzles as a series of slides felt a little bland after a while. The game would be benefit from more diversity in puzzle presentation
  • – Some of the puzzles would be fun in physical form, but were a little tedious in onscreen form
  • ? Puzzles are generally on the easier side, as advertised, and are better for less experienced players
  • + The suggested use of Zoom annotation to collaborate on puzzles worked well
  • – Not a good game value at $20 per player. At a lower price point, this could be a fun introductory game for novice players

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

ISS Crisis was an enjoyable, intermediate-level game. We were guided by a live host providing audio instructions and visual puzzles to solve over Zoom. Though there wasn’t direct interactivity with the imagery, we were encouraged to use Zoom’s markup feature to collaboratively solve each challenge. Our team was perhaps a bit overqualified for this game as we were blowing through each puzzle fairly quickly. That said, they were fun to solve and would likely provide a good level of difficulty for less seasoned players. In my opinion, the game would be better served on Telescape or another interactive platform to allow for easier solving. Zoom markup was a bit clunky for some of the more visual puzzles. Overall, it was a respectable game and we had a good time with it.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

I suppose we are very lucky that at this point into virtual escape rooms, the bar has been set very high, with games excelling at humor, immersion, puzzles, or creativity and wow factor. Unfortunately, this game failed to deliver on most of these factors. It felt like a series of paper puzzles presented to us via Zoom, cobbled together with an unimaginative story and theme. I think this game could be good perhaps for corporate teams who want something safe and fairly non-intimidating, and some of the puzzles were interesting, but overall, I can’t recommend this game, especially at this price point.

Puzzles: The puzzles themselves were the best part of this game, but they could have just been part of a puzzle hunt and felt a bit flat.

Immersion: There’s nothing very interesting about a couple lines of text with a robotic voice reading it out loud to you. At least the puzzles were all appropriately themed.

Avatar: We had a live gamemaster, but I’m always slightly annoyed when a gamemaster is there simply to give answers and clues to what feels like a puzzle that could have just been played over a website with a digital solution box.

Interface: This was played via Zoom. We viewed the puzzles via the gamemaster’s shared screen. Nothing innovative or interesting, but it was simple and easy to use.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

ISS Crisis felt a bit like pub trivia, but with a collection of puzzles. Conceptually, it’s a cool idea.

As a collection, the puzzles weren’t bad (with the exception of one that I immediately understood what I needed to do… I just had no interest in doing it). The struggle here is that there was nothing special about ISS Crisis.

At $20 per person, with a minimum of 4 players, I’m expecting something that justifies why this needs to be delivered by a human live over Zoom. These puzzles could have been delivered in a puzzle book for a fraction of the price (except for the one puzzle that I hated, because that involved a looping gif).

This falls cleanly into the category of things that I wanted to like, but at this point it’s outclassed by countless other tabletop and virtual options.

Disclosure: Puzzleverse provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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