Episode One: Into The Fire is a free online narrative puzzle game created by So You Wanna Save The World.
We reviewed Episode 0 in October of 2019, which is no longer available, as So You Wanna Save The World has changed their product significantly since then. Episode One is the current introductory episode.
Style of Play:
- Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
- Play on demand
This is a story-based puzzle game with comic-strip video sequences delivering the narrative. Puzzles are based on static images and ARG-style websites.
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, mobile device
Recommended Team Size: 1-2
Play Time: Unlimited, but your playtime determines your score. Figure on 1-2 hours.
Price: Episode One (reviewed here) is free. Subsequent episodes are $30 each.
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
You’ll receive instructions via the website and explore other sites, solving puzzles to progress the story. Most of the story is given as comic-style videos with a mix of voice acting and speech bubbles. There are other types of interactions, including phone calls/ messages, that will occur as you progress through the game.
Hivemind Review Scale
Brett Kuehner’s Reaction
- + The storyline is clear and easy to follow
- + Voice acting was generally good
- – It was jarring that scenes had some characters with voice performances and other characters that just showed as speech bubbles on screen
- – Cluing on some puzzles was insufficient. When the stats show that the majority of players need hints on a puzzle, that should be an indication to designers that the puzzle needs additional work.
- +/- There are progressive hints available, as well as a solution. This is a good idea, but the hints we used often told us things we already knew, and hit us with a time penalty for using them.
- – The pacing could be slow at times, especially when a video segment was followed by… another video segment
- + Good production value and graphic design (but some images were a bit small on my PC monitor)
- + There were lots of different interaction types. It was fun to be surprised at times by what we’d need to do next.
- + All of the interactions were responsive. It never felt like the technology was slowing things down.
- + The Case Notes section was helpful and meant we didn’t need to do any tedious manual note-taking
- + You can select a PG or R rating for your game. I didn’t compare the two, but I assume it adjusts the language used in some of the segments.
- + Episode One is free and worth a try to see if this style of game is to your taste
This game appealed to me since I could play it alone and start/ stop at my leisure, and its infrastructure facilitated this type of gameplay well. The interface recorded and organized each step of my progress in a chaptered “notes” file, making it easy to resume, even after a lengthy break. This notes section also included the hinting system for each sequence. This setup kept gameplay well organized and I would love to see it in other online experiences. I also appreciated the game’s integration of online multimedia content with texts and calls (including a phone interaction I particularly enjoyed), and its comic-style artwork.
Gameplay itself was hit or miss. Several puzzles could have benefited from stronger cluing, and the hinting system often jumped from obvious hints directly to the full answer to the puzzle, with nothing in between. One puzzle required you to wait in between inputs, yet gave you no feedback that you were on the right track.
This game is offered in PG- and R-rated versions, and I played the R. While I appreciate this version was made “for adults” (as the creators say on their website), several jokes and topics landed extremely poorly with me, including one within the first two minutes of gameplay that made me reluctant to continue through the experience. With this in mind, I cannot offer a recommendation to play this game.
Tammy McLeod’s Reaction
This free game has a good backstory, and the puzzles are appropriately themed. They were reasonably challenging, and there was a decent help system, albeit with a high time-cost per hint. The numerous videos are simple pencil sketches, but they work well. The rest of the game was polished and had a surprisingly large amount of content for a free game.