Codex – Spaceship Graveyard [Review]

All of the pop culture references in the galaxy.

Location:  Laval, Canada

Date Played: April 6, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Spaceship Graveyard was a love letter to a few decades worth of space-based science fiction and fantasy.

Codex structured this escape game as a largely split-team experience and did so in a way that we hadn’t seen before. This was an exciting twist on both the spaceship and split-team genres.

In-game: a spaceship's bridge.

Spaceship Graveyard was massive, but it felt a little too empty. On the one hand, that added a bit of spookiness. On the other hand, it just felt like it needed more going on. That went for the gameplay as well. There was a lot of narrative, but the line between story and gameplay was blurry.

There’s plenty to love in Spaceship Graveyard and lots of room for iteration and improvement as well. We absolutely recommend Spaceship Graveyard for its interesting gameplay twists. In its current state, however, if you only have time for one game at Codex, it should be The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent.

We love what Codex is doing. It’s exciting to see a new company put out two games that push boundaries. We cannot wait to see where they go from here.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • An interesting take on split-team gameplay
  • So many nerd references. So many.
  • The doors. You’ll know them when you see them.

Story

We had teleported into a universe where Earth had made contact with extraterrestrials centuries ago. This alien influence had sped up development of technology and altered all facets of life.

The China America Alliance had dispatched ships to find new habitable planets. One SPC-2202 had signaled the discovery of such a place… then nothing was heard from it again.

We were dispatched across time and space to investigate SPC-2202, determine what the crew had discovered, and decide the best course of action for humanity.

In-game: a spaceship's sleeping pod.

Setting

Split into two groups, we boarded the spaceship from two different sides, each group puzzling through different compartments on the way to the bridge.

The ship was huge and spartan. It had a Star Trek-like cleanness to it.

Spaceship Graveyard was loaded with references to a wide variety of classic space-based science fiction.

It also had some really amazing doors.

In-game: an opening iris door.
If this door is ever stolen… it’s probably in my house.

Gameplay

Codex’s Spaceship Graveyard was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

About 2/3 of the game was played as a split-team experience. The entire team was together for the last 1/3.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, communicating, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ There were two separate teleporters to take us to Spaceship Graveyard. This made sense from a gameplay standpoint because it was a split-team game. Codex justified this from a narrative perspective as well: as their first teleporters, they were under powered and couldn’t transport the entire group together. This was elegant storytelling.

➕ An early interaction ramped up the narrative drama of Spaceship Graveyard.

➕/ ➖ In one set of Spaceship Graveyard we had open and easy communication. In another area of the starship, we couldn’t see each other and relied on shouting. There was an opportunity to improve the ship’s internal communication channels.

➕ Many of the puzzles in Spaceship Graveyard required teamwork and forced communication.

➖ For one especially challenging puzzle, however, there was nothing the other group could do to help and nothing new they could do to advance the game. This created an awkward bottleneck with downtime for some and added pressure for others.

➖ The set was uneven. The spaceship was spacious, but the props and set pieces were sparse. It felt oddly empty. Additionally, half the group explored a more compelling space than the other half did.

➖ We were really excited about one set piece, which was fun to explore, but turned out to be largely irrelevant to our experience. It felt like a missed opportunity.

➕ Outer space looked great. The projections were impressive. The set was at its best when we could see beyond the spaceship’s interior.

➖ Codex attempted to deepen our connection to this world through an understanding of the crew of SPC-2202. Instead of working this into the gameplay, however, it felt bolted on as reading. We had trouble parsing its relevance. In this instance, the extra world texture was distracting.

➕ Codex delivered narrative through a surprising reveal. It was a great moment.

➖ We didn’t realize when we’d won. We made a choice, but it wasn’t an informed choice. We had a inkling that we were choosing to be good guys or bad guys, but we didn’t understand the consequences of either action. It left us confused about how – or even whether – we’d completed our mission.

➕That door. Did I remember to mention the door? I’m a fan of that door. I hope that I’m not over-hyping the door.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is parking in the back on the building near the entrance to the escape rooms.

Book your hour with Codex’s Spaceship Graveyard, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Codex provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Codex – The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent [Review]

Hammer of the Gods

Location:  Laval, Quebec, Canada

Date Played: April 6, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We finally played an escape room set against Norse mythology… and it only took 700+ games until we stumbled upon it. I’m happy to report that we adored it.

Codex struck a balance between homemade and polished that was really quite charming. The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent had great puzzle design and flow. It felt like an adventure and it conveyed a story.

The story led to an end-game decision. There was meaning in it… but we made our choice by accident. The escape room needed to provide just a bit more context.

This was a delightful game from a new and exciting company. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced player, if you’re near Montreal, The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent really ought to be on your itinerary.

In-game: A campfire burning under the stars in the middle of the autumn woods.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A unique theme and setting
  • Strong puzzles
  • Fantastic interactions

Story

We had jumped to a parallel universe where the Vikings had conquered the world. Belief in the Norse gods had grown so strong that they had become real… and Ragnarok, the end times, were upon these people.

We were tasked with investigating this place in space and time, understanding their rituals, and deciding which of the gods deserved our help.

In-game: The inside of a cabin with two wood and fur thrones surrounded by round shields.

Setting

The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent was set in a Viking world which included “outdoors” in a forest and inside a cabin-like throne room.

The set was as unusual as the story. The night sky was covered in glowing stars. The cabin was lit by warm fire-like light.

Overall, this was a good-looking set. It wasn’t perfect and the seams were easy to spot, but it was a really cool environment to explore.

In-game: a cabin covered in ivy in the middle of the woods.

Gameplay

Codex’s The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ The Viking/ Norse mythology staging was a smart choice… and remarkably, we had never encountered it before.

➕ Codex built a lovely set for The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent. The gorgeous starscape brought the space to life. The set felt homemade, but polished, and crafted with love and attention to detail.

➖ Much of The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent was played in low light. Codex could build more well-lit work spaces so that we wouldn’t be constantly relying on our flashlights.

➕ Codex used environmental details as clue structure. This enabled phenomenally tight puzzle design and especially satisfying solves… for observant players.

➕ The puzzles required a variety of skill sets. Our wits shielded us from complex, layered puzzles and we dexterously hit our targets.

➖ One late-game sequence lacked a bit of cluing. It was solvable, but it didn’t flow smoothly enough to make the actions feel as epic as they should have been. In this case, the puzzling thwarted momentum instead of building it.

The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent delivered exciting reveals. In one instance, we forged ahead to enjoy a telegraphed outcome. In other, we branched in an unexpected direction. These were both phenomenal moments.

➖ In The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent, we made a narrative choice. At the time, however, we didn’t realize we were making a choice. Even if we had known, our 60 minutes in this parallel universe hadn’t given us the context to make an informed decision. For the ending to feel consequential, we needed to understand that there were options and what each choice meant.

➕ Codex’s escape rooms fit into an overarching narrative of parallel universes. They justified their stories with universe-hopping by teleporter. This explained otherwise messy details… like bringing flashlights to a place that felt too historical to have electricity. Our gamemaster’s charming introduction and the physical teleporter provided a fun journey to The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent .

Tips For Visiting

  • There is parking in the back of the building near the entrance to the escape rooms.
  • They sell ketchup chips… it’s a Canadian thing.

Book your hour with Codex’s The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Codex provided media discounted tickets for this game.