Great Gotham Challenge – The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition [Hivemind Review]

The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition is a tabletop (and online) puzzle hunt game created by Great Gotham Challenge. It ran on December 26 and December 31, 2022.

The open box revealing a custom pencil, deck of cards, and white paper filler obscuring other items.


Style of Play:

  • Online experience + tabletop escape game

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience. (While not a fit for absolute beginners, this would be a great next step for players with a couple Puzzled Pint sessions under their belts.)

Required Equipment: Computer with internet connection, mobile device, pen & paper, access to a kitchen

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: Teams had 3.5 hours if they wanted to finish before the virtual award ceremony. Teams that did not finish in that time had a few days to complete the race.

Price: $80 per crate

Booking: not currently available


The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition was a race to solve all the puzzles contained in a crate as fast as possible.

After receiving an elegant box of puzzle components in the mail, each team of players joins a Zoom call the start time. The hosts give a link to a website that will be used to lead players through the puzzles and verify answers before moving to the next puzzle. The site also provides hints on demand, with possible time penalties for taking hints early. Puzzles are displayed on the website and players must figure out how to use the physical props to solve them.

A black box with the GGC logo embossed on the surface. A note rests on top inviting players to play the game.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition packed a premium puzzle party in a box. I found this to be the strongest at-home offering yet from The Great Gotham Challenge; it was a step up in polish and cohesion from last year’s CTRL/ALT/DECODE Chapter 2 without skimping on GGC’s signature creativity and zaniness.

With a dazzling array of puzzle types and presentations, this game included some truly memorable puzzle interactions. Layered solves were tightly integrated throughout a range of high-quality props and multisensory experiences. Individual puzzles were sufficiently compelling to demand our attention throughout the game, but the gameplay could have been elevated by a more continuous throughline or meta structure. Additionally, blocks of historical trivia that accompanied each puzzle were highly fascinating, yet they sometimes felt a bit extraneous to the puzzles and bled too much into the actionable flavor text. One puzzle proved particularly hard to see properly for our bespectacled players, bottlenecking us right at the end.

Many at-home games that mail you physical objects promise a collection of keepsakes, yet most props end up sitting in a box or tossed after the game. The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition actually delivered on this promise, with numerous usable and/ or displayable objects. My teammates were fighting over who got to keep what at the end of the game. I especially appreciated the thoughtful inclusion of refill components that allowed us to continue using certain props beyond their primary puzzle purpose.

The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition was a triumph in both design and production. I can’t wait to see what GGC concocts next.

A box that looks like a book, beside a coffee mug with strange writing on it.

Rob Baird’s Reaction

This was a fun race against the clock with a lot of varied and challenging puzzles. All the materials in the crate were high quality, used in interesting ways, and I appreciated that a lot of thought clearly went into making sure many of them would be usable after the game was over. A great way to say goodbye to 2022 and I look forward to future games.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + Game hosts did a good Zoom intro and were available for live tech support as needed
  • + Clever utilization of a variety of solid and attractive props that justified the cost of the package
  • + Using physical props, sometimes in conjunction with web research, was more interesting than web-only puzzles
  • + Puzzle solutions were checked online, but were also generally self-confirming, producing a word that felt “right”
  • +/- One puzzle included a fun live verbal interaction, but it felt like it could have been richer
  • + Most puzzle components were reusable, or at least had additional use after the game
  • – One puzzle utilized an AR application that was cumbersome and finicky
  • + Good hint system, with the ability to select what kind of hint you needed and clearly defined consequences for taking a hint
  • ? Structured as a timed head-to-head competition with other teams, but did not reveal results until a few days later, which might be a long wait for a truly competitive team
  • – A few puzzles were not fully gated, so it was possible to get a bit off-track if you dug a little too hard into the box contents
  • + Fun historical information revealed along with the puzzling
  • – One reveal was set up well by instructions, but counted on players following an additional unwritten assumption
  • + Difficulty level was described as suitable for less-experienced players, and that was accurate, especially because of the structured hints and because you can continue solving beyond the timed race

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition arrived in plenty of time for our New Year’s Eve experience – a plain black box with a warning not to open until game time, or else! In the box we found a variety of intriguing, high-quality items that were hard to imagine as puzzle components, but ended up being used in cool, unexpected ways. The holiday theming was strong throughout, but there was a lot of reading for a timed challenge, and we often skipped ahead just to get to the puzzle. Puzzles were clever and fairly challenging, with minimal cluing that often had us scratching our heads and heading for a hint or two, even with the unfortunate penalty on our game clock. Even so, the hours flew by, giving us quite a few aha moments along the way. Alas, we did not finish before the deadline. The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition packed a lot of game into a relatively compact package. While puzzles and components were impressive and I would not hesitate to play again next year, I might forgo the competition and simply enjoy the experience without the pressure of a game clock.

An assortment of puzzle components on a table with hands manipulating custom playing cards.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

The Crate Gotham Challenge: Holiday Edition has officially dethroned its predecessors as my favorite of the GGC offerings. I’ve played multiple games from the GGC team and have always been impressed with their clever puzzle design, educational elements, and delightful aha moments. This installment really kicked things up a notch. The crate was filled with myriad well-made items that will make for delightful additions to my (already eclectic) shelves. The puzzles were varied and made use of several mechanics I hadn’t seen used before. My friends and I were able to gather both physically and over Zoom (for our fourth teammate), which made for a delightful experience and a great chance to play something tactile together remotely. Rarely is this the case with remote games, but since our out of state teammate had his own crate as well, it made for a seamless gameplay experience. In short, the GGC team keeps raising their own bar and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Disclosure: The Great Gotham Challenge provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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