If you enjoy The Light in the Mist, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Rita Orlov on The Reality Escape Pod.
Location: at home
Date Played: September 2021
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2
Duration: 5-10 hours (easily spread out over as many sittings as you like)
Price: about $32 + shipping for the standard edition
I think you’re going to want to back The Light in the Mist on Kickstarter.
Rita Orlov of PostCurious teamed up with masterful illustrator Jack Fallows of Cryptogram Puzzle Post to create a custom, bepuzzled tarot deck packed with gorgeous art, all wrapped in a heartfelt story. The collaboration played to the strengths of these two creators.
The Light in the Mist displayed both creators at their absolute best and showed a maturity of design, while making use of the tarot deck as a medium for both puzzle design and storytelling.
Beyond the incredible aesthetics and stellar puzzles, The Light in the Mist was a remarkably unopinionated product. It can be just a puzzle game, or just a story, or just a tarot deck – which was a nifty trick of design.
When we complete tabletop puzzle games, even the ones we love, we usually find ourselves feeling a certain sense of relief. When we finished The Light in the Mist, we found ourselves missing it… wishing it were a little longer. Honestly, this was the perfect length. It’s better to return from a vacation wishing it were a couple of days longer than ultimately wishing that the trip had ended sooner; the same is true for puzzle games.
We loved The Light in the Mist. Although we’ve already played, we will back it on Kickstarter because we want to own a production copy. You’re going to want one too.
Who is this for?
Practitioners of the tarot
Any experience level
The tarot deck looks gorgeous. It’s the kind of thing you’ll want to own.
The puzzles are stellar and varied, with an incredible hint system to make this game as easy as you want it to be. Play at your own level.
There’s a beautiful, intimate, and well-crafted story running throughout the experience.
Our dear friend had disappeared under unusual and mystical circumstances, leaving behind a tarot deck. Could we brave the deck’s mysteries and occult power to help our missing companion?
Update 9/21/21: If you enjoy Emerald Flame, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Rita Orlov on The Reality Escape Pod.
Location: at home
Date Played: Spring 2020
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-4
Duration: 2-3 hours per chapter with 3 chapters
Price: back on Kickstarter at $69 or more to receive a copy of the game
Emerald Flame is in a class of its own, from its art direction to its gameplay. Its three chapters had tight, creative puzzles. They varied in complexity, while feeling fair and innovative.
Emerald Flame felt like a successor to Post Curious’ first product Tale of Ord… but tighter and more refined in virtually every way.
Emerald Flame’s story was less ambitious than its predecessor’s but was still well structured and conveyed quite a bit of nuance. There was less content, and there were fewer tangible props than in Tale of Ord, but the overall level of quality was much higher… and at a far lower price point.
In short: Emerald Flame smoked Tale of Ord. It wasn’t even close.
The art was beautiful, like, “I feel kind of bad writing on this” beautiful… and “I want a poster-sized version of the box art to frame on my wall,” beautiful.
Emerald Flame just went up on Kickstarter, so if you want to play this, head over there and back it. We played a nearly final prototype. There will be differences in the production version, so I cannot speak to the exact quality of what will be shipped. That said, I can assure you that the game exists, it’s incredibly refined, and it’s comfortably Lisa and my favorite tabletop puzzle game to date. For what I look for in a play-at-home puzzle game, it has no peers.
Who is this for?
Players with at least some experience
Approachable yet deep and beautifully designed puzzles
The best hint system in the business
The art, the art, the art
Our assistance had been enlisted in the study of alchemy. We needed to retrace the work of a medieval alchemist from Prague in order to solve the mysteries of his work and how they related to an unusual celestial event.
Update 9/21/21: If you enjoy The Tale of Ord, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Rita Orlov on The Reality Escape Pod.
By Odin’s Beard!
Location: at home
Date Played: June 2018
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 1-4
Duration: 3-4 hours per package; we recommend splitting each package into multiple sessions
Price: $165 for a total of 4 monthly packages
PostCurious’ The Tale of Ord wove an epic tale through interconnected narrative and puzzle components, delivered in a series of four parcels. As The Tale of Ord progressed, the density and challenge grew dramatically. We loved the grand vision in this smart, innovative, and tightly-written saga.
While the depth was impressive, PostCurious occasionally struggled to narrow the focus for puzzle play.
We highly recommend The Tale of Ord to puzzlers who welcome a substantial mystery. It’s a worthy commitment. Don’t try to play this one casually or Loki will have a good laugh at your expense.
Who is this for?
Players with at least some puzzling experience
Brilliant, challenging puzzles
A well-designed hint and answer verification system
Efficient narrative storytelling woven into the components
A ton of content
Two professors from the Emerens Institute had gone missing. We’d been hired as private investigators to track them down through their research, writing, and study of Norse mythology. Along the way, we found a deeper, supernatural mystery.
We had received four monthly packages, filled with letters, documents, and mysterious items.
The vast majority of the components were paper-based and carefully designed. The packages also included a variety of unusual components, which culminated in a remarkably clever puzzle box.
PostCurious’ The Tale of Ord was a puzzle-focused, narrative-driven at-home puzzle game with a higher level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around making connections and puzzling. Completing The Tale of Ord was an accomplishment.
+ #$%^ Tale of Ord was tightly written. Seriously. When we reread everything after finishing the game, all was revealed. The level of clarity that we had in our second reading was nuts.
+ PostCurious created a broad array of puzzles with shocking precision. There were more than a few instances where we paused to reflect on how well a puzzle design came together.
+ The clue and game instructions were naturally embedded throughout the various letters and readings provided by PostCurious. This technique inspired our approach to the puzzle that we hid in the Escape, Immerse, Explore: New Orleans Tour.
+Tale of Ord balanced puzzles and story. Pure lore flowed seamlessly into puzzles.
+ The props, whether they were made of paper or something more elaborate, were thoughtfully designed. They felt like they belonged.
? We knew we’d need a computer with an internet connection to play. We hadn’t realized the extent to which a computer would be necessary.
– Tale of Ord was framed up as 4 chapters, but it felt more like 8. It would have benefitted from additional natural break points. After we found ourselves burning out from solving each chapter in one sitting, we started creating our own breakpoints. The content was great, but the chunks were too big.
+ The hint system was structured and easy to use. The hints asked us questions before bluntly delivering answers, which we appreciated. This allowed us to earn most of a solve, even when we needed a nudge.
+ PostCurious included an answer verification tool with the hint system. This let us know when we were close or had a correct answer. This was a massive improvement over most of the other mail-delivered games that we’ve played, where we’ve frequently found ourselves unsure of our solutions with no easy method of finding clarity. This was so well done; it should be an industry standard.
– We occasionally struggled with expectations. Initially it seemed like each box was self-contained… until it wasn’t. PostCurious generally did a good job of making it clear when we needed to reference back to past materials, but some of them had us tied up in knots.
– Most chapters had a spot or two where the clue structure felt tenuous and weak. Sometimes the puzzles were especially tough to start; others felt like a stretch to extract a solution. These became particularly frustrating, especially when we were at the tail end of a long session and trying to close out a chapter.
+ Box two cautioned us to “solve it during the daytime.” That instruction was worth heeding. The hint system had a bypass for those who cannot play during the day, but you should know that if you bypass that puzzle, you’re doing Tale of Ord wrong.
+ The list of characters was pretty short. After having played other games that were constantly introducing new characters, this narrative simplicity was a gift from the gods.
+ At its best (which was often), Tale of Ord had beautifully layered puzzles providing elaborate challenges that exceeded what we have come to expect from both escape rooms and subscription puzzle games. Solving these puzzles felt so good.
+ The final puzzle and its components were beautiful. What a way to close the loop on an epic tale.
Tips for Playing
Chapter 2 must be played during the daytime. Curious, right?
Keep track of all your work and solutions. You will need to visit some of them again.
You’ll need a computer; a smart phone just doesn’t cut it.
The Tale of Ord was a serious commitment. Don’t approach it haphazardly.