Meridian Adventure Co – The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg [Hivemind Review]

Illustrated veiw of Little Sodaburg, features a castle, a church, a large fish fountain, and assorted buildings.

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an online puzzle game created by Meridian Adventure Co that combines puzzle style elements from escape rooms, ARGs, and video games.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Web-based gameplay
  • Includes video elements

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-5

Play Time: 75 minutes

Price: $125 for 2-6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an online game with an in-character game host (not an avatar whom you control). Players solve puzzles collaboratively with their teammates using a variety of in-universe websites.

Black & white illustration of the Little Sodaburg Patent Office

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is a charming exploration of a quaint town led by a delightful tour guide…until it becomes so much more. Who would have guessed that the vibrant village would demand of us not only corporate espionage but also…a weaponized vacuum?

Gameplay here is mostly centered around discovering and using information gathered from various in-universe websites. Sometimes you can find the information on your own, but where the game shines are the times that you are actively collaborating and communicating with your teammates to solve a puzzle. I liked this game a lot, and more of those sequences would have made it even better.

This game does a lot of things right – the tech works, the art is lovely to look at, and the puzzles all felt like they had purpose. Everything we did had meaning, and it made for a game I’d recommend you go play soon.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is a delightful game that had me smiling right from the start. From the moment our guide engaged our team and set the stage for our tour of Sodaburg, we were immersed in another world. The story flowed seamlessly, and the puzzles, while not difficult, were creative, fun, and designed so the whole team had to contribute to the solution. There was even one challenge that gave players unexpected freedom within the game, to the delight of our team. You can tell that the creators really had a blast with this game, and so did we. Schedule a tour of Sodaburg with your friends; you won’t be disappointed!

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

The seaside town of Little Sodaburg is the placid home to castle ruins, a soda factory, and an abundance of fish statues. But not all is as it seems, and this game quickly took a turn for the delightfully zany.

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is the polished spiritual successor to The Truth About Edith that I’ve been long awaiting. I mean this in a few senses: both games take players through an ARG-ish trail of distinctive websites with server-synced interactions, demonstrate an expertise in escape room-style design and digital storytelling, and utilize a home-brewed tech stack built around a wide range of interactions.

The design of The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg was witty, funny, highly intentional, and very well tested. The game was built around a fluency in internet culture which translated brilliantly into both the interaction mechanics and an eclectic mix of nostalgic web design styles. I found myself taking extra time between puzzling to read every bit of writing in the game — it was just that good. This was all rounded out by stunning original artwork.

Zooming out, we are at a crossroads in the continued development of virtual escape rooms. As in-person rooms have largely reopened and avatar adaptations of these games are starting to disappear, it’s important to remember that the pandemic is far from over and the market for remote games is pivoting to a new place of ongoing importance. New releases cannot and should not compete with in-person escape rooms, but rather they must lean into the unique strengths of this virtual medium and learnings from the past year — and The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg did exactly that. The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an expertly crafted labor of love which I hope will be the harbinger of a new wave of premium, innovative virtual puzzle games.

Theresa W’s Reaction

At this point in online games, I didn’t think we’d see anything out of the ordinary or incredibly fun. I’m so glad that The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg proved me wrong, providing a breath of fresh air to the plethora of online experiences. From fantastic humor and beautiful artwork, to the fun interactions and creative videography, this game was a masterpiece. Other than one interaction that (understandably) took a little while to get responses from, the game flow made sense and was well-paced. Typically, online games are not memorable for me, but I’m positive I’ll remember The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg for years to come.

Disclosure: Meridian Adventure Co provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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