Escape@home – Grandma Was A Spy [Hivemind Review]

Grandma Was A Spy is a tabletop escape game created by Escape@home from Bubblegum.games.

A collection of hexagonal coasters labeled, "NY World's Fair 1964-65, Carousel of Innovation," beside an assortment of index cards with recipes printed on them.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Tabletop escape game

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Newbies

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

It’s easier to use a computer rather than a mobile device because you are switching between tabs frequently.

Recommended Team Size: 2-3

Play Time: about 45 minutes, more for less experienced players

Price: $30 per box

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

This is an online experience with physical components that help you solve puzzles. Order one box per physical location. Once the box arrives, click on the link emailed to you after purchase to start the game. There is a timer, but you have unlimited time to complete the game. Hints are provided, but after the first one, time is added to the clock.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Grandma Was A Spy was a hilarious journey of fun puzzles and ridiculous imagery. While the start of the game was a bit rocky with a rough puzzle, the gameplay really picked back up with thematic puzzles that included many aha moments and surprise uses of components. The story was funny and engaging, with the designers clearly having fun with the imagery and theme. We loved our time playing this game, but wished there was a bit more content, as we finished our leisurely play in around 40 minutes. If you’re looking for a fun, short tabletop escape game with some cute physical components and a unique story, you’ll love this game!

Cindi S’ Reaction

As I unboxed Grandma Was A Spy, I was immediately intrigued by the weird, seemingly random items in the box. The game makes use of cool retro artwork, a fun story, and unique and creative puzzles. One of the puzzles was way too easy, even for beginners. Another presented more of a challenge, but given our experience with this type of puzzle, we were actually able to solve it with the tiny clue provided. This turned out to be unfortunate, as we then progressed quickly through the game and reached the finale while still having unused props on the table. Turns out that by solving that puzzle too early, we actually bypassed a major component of the game. I don’t think this would happen to everyone, but it could be easily fixed by either removing the tiny hint or using a different type of puzzle altogether. While I really enjoyed the gameplay and story up to that point, it was disappointing to reach the end before experiencing such a big part of the game.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Grandma Was A Spy presented an endearingly goofy story about our grandma’s life as a badass spy. There was a lot to like in this game: The nostalgic grandma-era humor was on point. The physical components were well produced and well themed. A stack of recipe cards looked and felt like those that I’d actually find in a grandmother’s kitchen, and some cardboard hexagonal tiles were chunky, well printed, and enjoyable to handle. The game’s web interface was well constructed for a Squarespace site, with clear password gating of certain areas and thoughtful linking between the various “rooms” of the game. The puzzles contained some fun reveals, and I especially like a sort of meta element that physically utilized many of the game’s components together in a sequence full of mini ahas that culminated in a visually satisfying manner.

Unfortunately, this all was largely undermined by a core puzzle design flaw, stemming from the fact that cryptograms are quite easily solvable without the key. Cryptograms appear as a canonical puzzle type alongside crosswords in many major newspapers, and if presented with one, I’m inclined to solve it. In the case of Grandma Was A Spy, solving a particular cryptogram available at the start of the game made the output of the core puzzle sequence all but redundant, undermining what should have been the climax of the gameplay.

Furthermore, the game started on a shaky note with an intro puzzle that was cute in theory but questionable in its current presentation. Any number of minor tweaks, such as specifying expected answer format or providing more specific visual cluing, could have completely fixed this.

In its current form, Grandma Was A Spy is a solid pick for newer puzzlers and corporate teams. With just a few edits, however, this game has potential to equally be enjoyable for puzzle and escape room enthusiasts.

Disclosure: Escape@home provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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