Another day, another prison
Location: at home
Date Played: August 2022
Team size: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯; we recommend 1-2
Price: about $14
Enigma: Interactive Escape Book Game by Frank Eno was a puzzle book filled with 60 puzzles to solve. With various types of puzzles and a clean web interface, Enigma was similar to other puzzle books that included QR codes to scan to verify your answer.
We liked how clean the website was, and how easy it was to input our answers and move to the next puzzle. We also liked that the book could be worked on offline, and answers could be entered online later. It was convenient that hints were printed in the back of the book.
Almost every puzzle was one of three things: unsatisfyingly easy, annoying to execute, or convoluted. A lot of this puzzle book felt like playing “what was the author thinking” instead of solving puzzles. The culminating puzzle seemingly used multiple answers from the book, but only a small amount of puzzle solutions were actually required to “finish” the final puzzle, making all of our previous work feel like a waste of time.
We would have loved to see the book gradually increase in difficulty by adding more layered puzzles with multiple steps to solve so that it’s harder to get the aha moments, but ultimately more satisfying.
Who is this for?
- Book lovers
- Journal 29 fans
- Any experience level
- Clean user interface with easy to understand inputs
- Because it’s portable
We’d woken up in a prison cell, with no idea what had happened to land us there. We noticed a note on the floor instructing us to solve the puzzles to escape the prison.
Every two pages, the book provided us with a puzzle prompt on the right, along with a QR code and instructions for how to check our answer on the left. The left-hand side also included a spot to note our answers for use later in the book. Some of the solutions to previous puzzles came in handy for future solves.
Enigma: Interactive Escape Book Game was a book-based play-at-home escape room akin to the Journal 29 series. The level of difficulty varied from puzzle to puzzle, but generally stayed on the easier side.
Gameplay included 60 puzzles, including logical reasoning, deduction, counting, elementary school math, and observing. Some puzzles required previous answers to solve and progress. However, we could freely move around the book and solve the puzzles out-of-order as long as puzzles were not linked to another solution.
➕ The book had a great on-ramp for players to get their bearings and understand the mechanics.
➖ Puzzles were typically either straightforward or plain. We would like to see more variation and multi-step solutions to add more depth and aha moments to the puzzle content.
➕ The online interface was incredibly clean and easy to use, with concise instructions and a reminder to note our answer down for the future once it was confirmed correct.
➖ The hint system either told us how to solve the puzzle or gave a useless hint. These hints did not ease the player to find the solution themselves and instead either provided the clear solution path or didn’t provide enough of anything to solve the puzzle. The hints could benefit from being gradual, with multiple hints per puzzle instead of just one.
➖ A small handful of puzzles were convoluted, we still could not figure them out even after taking the hint.
➕ If you are solving page after page, you do not need to keep scanning QR codes — the website will redirect you to the next puzzle verification page automatically upon submitting a correct solution.
❓/➖ The first few puzzles were entirely simple math. While not a puzzle, nor a satisfying solve, this allowed for on-ramping to the interface and the puzzle methodology presented throughout.
➖ Most answers were a random strings of numbers or letters for no apparent reason. These answers could have solved to a clean word solution, or at least combined later on to form clean words. It wouldn’t have mattered to the aha in the puzzle design what letter or number answer it derived. By designing with meaningful answers, players would receive some internal solution confirmation and a lot more satisfaction.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: A small table
- Playing Enigma requires a copy of the book, an internet connected device, pencil (or Frixion pens), and scissors.
Buy your copy of Enigma: Interactive Escape Room Game, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: We received a media copy for review.