Puzzling Pursuits – Blackbrim: 1876 [Review]

Gotta catch’em all

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 17, 2021

Team size: 1 or more; we recommend 1-3

Duration: 90 minutes (longer with a smaller or less experienced group)

Price: $34.95

REA Reaction

Blackbrim: 1876 was a straightforward tabletop puzzle game with elegant black-and-white print design to compliment its paper-based play.

Puzzling Pursuits put together a well-constructed game, with strong on-boarding, and an easy-to-follow 2 act structure, each act culminating in a meta puzzle.

Puzzle portfolios part 1 & 2 with a welcome booklet.

The weakest part of this game was the story, which was bland rather than bad. It was also concise, which kept it from feeling onerous.

Overall, this is a solid product for newer puzzlers. The puzzles were well-constructed and the hint system supported the game well. Puzzling Pursuits executed well on Blackbrim: 1876. It didn’t push any boundaries, but it didn’t have to.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A solid, approachable collection of puzzles
  • The two portfolio cases that hold each act were really satisfying to open

Story

It was Victorian England and a criminal mastermind had captured the entire London police force. It fell to us to solve the perpetrator’s clues and find the hostages.

Opening a puzzle portfolio. It looks like a black leather case.

Setup

Blackbrim: 1876 had 3 stages of components:

Welcome Pamphlet – A single sheet of paper that explained the rules, hints, and set expectations. It was concise, accurate, and well-written.

Part 1 & Part 2 Portfolios – The game itself was broken up into two acts, cleanly separated into their own portfolio cases. Each had an assortment of puzzles that culminated in a meta puzzle.

An assortment of puzzle components on the table includes, a map, a newspaper, and a restaurant menu.

All of the components in Blackbrim: 1876 were made from paper, and the print design was handed with care. The portfolio cases were especially elegant.

Gameplay

Puzzling Pursuits’ Blackbrim: 1876 was a standard play-at-home escape game with an easy level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and solving puzzles. Puzzle style leaned heavily into word puzzles.

Analysis

➕ Puzzling Pursuits introductory material was clear and concise. Furthermore, it bolded key information a habitual player might gloss over. It set expectations for gameplay well, which we greatly appreciated.

Blackbrim: 1876 was comprised of two acts. Each non-linear act culminated in a (clearly marked) metapuzzle. Furthermore, the second act was decidedly more challenging than the first. This was a good difficulty curve, giving us a chance to understand Puzzling Pursuits’ style before adding complexities.

➕ For a game made entirely of paper components, it was elegantly presented. We were particularly enamored with the folder design. The puzzle elements were generally cleanly and precisely designed.

➖ One puzzle suffered from materials that were too dark. Also, the handwriting font was unnecessarily hard to decipher. These issues caused unneeded challenge for some puzzles – and not a fun kind of challenge.

❓If you like word puzzles, these were a fun bunch with some satisfying solves. I was decidedly more into these puzzles than David was. (Our group’s favorite puzzle was a layered sequence with more varied styles at play.)

➖ We encountered a number of unclued anagrams.

➖/❓ The story was bland and predictable. It had no depth, and never made us care about any of the characters. That said, written story passages were short and innocuous; they didn’t thwart momentum. Play this for the puzzles, not the story.

➕ The online hint system was sufficient for the game. It was clear, with enough breakdown for the amount of complexity in the puzzles. The UI was easy to use.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: an internet connected device for verifying answers and getting hints, a pen and paper

Buy your copy of Puzzling Pursuits’s Blackbrim: 1876, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Puzzling Pursuits provided a sample for review.

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