Eleven Puzzles – Parallel Lab [Hivemind Review]

Parallel Lab is a point-and-click adventure game created by Eleven Puzzles in Poland and Scotland.

A comic of two people speaking, discussing the case at hand.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on-demand (i.e. purchase and play any time)
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2

Play Time: 60-120 minutes

Price: $20 per team

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Each player connects from their own computer (via web browser). They proceed to play in parallel, with the each player having access to a set of information and puzzles that the other player does not see. Players must share information verbally and coordinate their efforts to progress, with the story remaining synchronized for both players.

An illustration of a basement hacker's den with many monitors.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Parallel Labs follows familiar characters Ally and Old Dog from Unboxing the Mind of a Cryptic Killer as they investigate bizarre noises coming from a nearby laboratory. The story is told with colorful comic-book-style segments, and follows the characters as they, and you, became separated in the lab. This is a cooperative game for just two players, where every puzzle requires you to work together and coordinate actions to solve. Each player has completely different, but related puzzle components, and it’s not immediately obvious what goes with what. It’s often very tempting to peer at the other player’s screen to see what they have to work with! You can play either in the same room or remote over Zoom, but one person will have to mute the game, since the audio may not be in sync between players. This only caused an issue once, when sound was integral to both parts of a puzzle. Throughout the game, you will find unique ways to manipulate a variety of lab paraphernalia, from test tubes to microscopic organisms and more. Parallel Labs really leans into cooperative gameplay to deliver a quality experience that’s just plain fun.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + The teamwork structure was fun. Two players are optimal for this game.
  • + Puzzle goals and structure are clear.
  • ? Puzzles are on the easier side, which is good for beginners or experienced players looking for a relaxing game, but might not be enough for puzzle-hungry players.
  • + Once a puzzle’s goal was discovered, the solution steps were fun and quick to execute (with one small exception, but even that one wasn’t too bad.)
  • + Comic strip style art is good and suits the story.
  • – Voice acting was not at the same level as the art and puzzles.
  • + Progressive hints are good overall, with several steps of increasing information.
  • – One puzzle could have been clued a bit better, but hints got us through.
  • + The web technology supporting the multi-player interactions worked fine overall, though it was a little laggy on one puzzle.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Parallel Labs ended up being a very enjoyable, moderate-difficulty-level adventure for two. The premise was simple yet effective. My teammate and I were each detectives investigating separate locations and communicating via “walkie-talkie” (aka Zoom) to each other to gather clues and solve puzzles in collaboration. Each room had a very clear set of clickable interactive areas, each containing either a puzzle or clue information needed for the other player. The puzzles were never overly difficult and there was a graded hint system built into each one. I thoroughly enjoyed the comic book-style animations and voice performances. Overall, this was a solid game and definitely worth a play through with a friend over Zoom!

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rarely is an online game able to replicate the feeling of playing an escape room, but Parallel Lab does exactly that. One of the reasons I love playing escape rooms is the teamwork and communication aspect. I especially love when escape rooms split your team into groups and you must work together to figure out how to share information to solve puzzles. This game replicates that mechanic, and pairs it with fun graphics and a polished interface. I would recommend this game to any players who want an escape room-like-game in the comfort and convenience of your own pace at home.

Puzzles: I found the puzzles to be fun and just challenging enough. There were a good variety of different types of puzzles, and the difficulty level ramped up as you got deeper into the game. The hint system was granular enough that I think beginners and experienced players would enjoy this game.

Immersion: Good commitment to the story, including nice graphics, a comic book style narrative, and excellent voice actors. Theme is noir detective style, investigating a laboratory.

Interface: Excellent functionality. Certain items on screen are clickable and movable. I especially enjoyed the built in annotation tools for the puzzles, and they saved your notes even when you click in and out of the puzzle.

Disclosure: Eleven Puzzles provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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