A of ❤️
Location: at home
Date Played: September 16, 2022
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 1-4
Duration: 3-6 hours
I’ve long awaited a tabletop puzzle game that effectively makes use of a deck of playing cards, and Lost in the Shuffle did just that.
With a humorous framing premise loosely reminiscent of Box One, Lost in the Shuffle provided a veritable menagerie of puzzling. The gameplay pulled from a dazzling array of styles — puzzle hunts, classic paper-and-pencil formats, escape room-style observational puzzles, riddles, and more.
Although the puzzles themselves lacked any real narrative, I was propelled forward by dopamine hit after dopamine hit, the sort of bite-sized satisfaction that defines a well-designed puzzle aha. The game smartly provided some extra scaffolding as I progressed, diminishing the common problem that I finish off a game with a frustrating smattering of puzzles I’ve been avoiding or gotten stuck on. In Lost in the Shuffle, once I got to that point, I had enough additional information to help push me over the finish line without losing much momentum.
Perhaps most importantly, the game’s medium informed the structure. 52 puzzles paralleled the 52 playing cards, though each puzzle wasn’t necessarily restricted to just one card. Some puzzles used the cards’ physicality. Some took advantage of the rank and suit structure of the deck, a feature which also guided the multi-card puzzles. That all said, certain puzzles looked and felt like they belonged on playing cards more than others, and there was some room for improvement in how individual puzzles interrelated, both in mechanic and visual aesthetic.
If you like puzzles, I strongly recommend backing the Lost in the Shuffle Kickstarter. At a price point similar to that of many novelty playing cards, Lost in the Shuffle packs a tremendous amount of puzzling into a small package.
Who is this for?
- Puzzle lovers
- Any experience level
- There are so many puzzles. They are varied and full of clever ahas.
The game’s designer, Spencer Beebe, presents his newest creation: a deck of playing cards with 52 puzzles, which players must solve to become “officially, legally, a genius” and ultimately unlock the mysterious Puzzle 53.
The game overall followed a clear story arc, though this story wasn’t really woven into the puzzles themselves.
Lost in the Shuffle requires minimal setup. The game consists of a custom deck of playing cards and a website. Solve puzzles, input the answers on the website, earn points, unlock new story segments and hints, and repeat.
Spencer Beebe’s Lost in the Shuffle is a playing card-based tabletop puzzle game with a moderate level of difficulty.
The gameplay included a wide range of puzzle types. Like in a puzzle hunt, each puzzle solved to an English word or phrase as the answer.
➕ Lost in the Shuffle included a mountain of delightful puzzles. Across the game’s 52+1 puzzles, a wide variety of styles were represented. Fans of word puzzles, puzzle hunts, and escape rooms will all find something for them.
➕ The puzzles ranged in length from quick and easy to longer and more layered. Each puzzle was solvable independently, never dependent on information or setup from other puzzles. This made the gameplay highly modular, nonlinear, and flexible. Players can solve a puzzle or two at a time, take breaks when hitting certain milestones as prompted by the game, or binge the entire game in a single session (as I did — once I got started, it was hard to put down!)
➖/➕ Lacking a true metapuzzle that used the individual puzzle answers, the puzzles at times felt like a series of unconnected brainteasers. Some were themed around features of the cards on which they appeared, while others seemed more random. Nonetheless, Puzzle 53 was an impactful and satisfying conclusion to the game.
➕ Certain puzzles stood out for their impressive visual reveals, with some cleverly conceived secrets hiding in plain sight.
➕ Lost in the Shuffle didn’t take itself too seriously. We unlocked videos throughout the game that told a hilarious narrative, and I especially enjoyed the visual portrayal of a semi-sentient AI.
❓/➖ The cards in Lost in the Shuffle had a handmade, sketch-like visual aesthetic. Overall, the style grew on me as the game progressed, and the narrative justified the presentation. However, the puzzles on some cards clashed with the cards’ design, especially when a URL or other text was awkwardly overlaid in or around a card’s pips.
❓ The cards in Lost in the Shuffle were all valid playing cards… yet many of the cards were sufficiently cluttered with additional information that I’d probably never choose to use the deck for any non-puzzle-solving purposes.
➕ The point-based unlock system was thoughtfully designed to provide extra support as we progressed in the game. By incrementally revealing information such as enumerations and starting letters of the answers, the gameplay largely avoided the usual bottleneck of frustration and hint-taking in the final chunk of the game.
➕ An online hint system clearly presented helpful granular hints for each puzzle.
➕ No game components get damaged or modified while playing, making Lost in the Shuffle easy to pass on to other players. No reset required!
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a medium-sized table or playing surface
- Required Gear: an internet-connected device, a pencil and paper for note-taking
Buy your copy of Spencer Beebe’s Lost in the Shuffle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Spencer Beebe provided a sample for review.