Komnata Quest – Sinful Pleasures [Review]

Puzzle Hard

Location:  at home

Date Played: April 4, 2021

Team size: we recommend 2-3

Duration: ~ 60 minutes

Price: £15 (about $21)

REA Reaction

We’re gonna get weird today.

We’ve played every game that Komnata Quest opened in New York City, as has our friend and Hivemind reviewer Fro. When they released the play-at-home Sinful Pleasures, she promptly shoved her credit card into Komnata’s website… and then nothing happened:

  • No game was delivered
  • No communication was sent
  • Attempts to contact Komnata were met with a full inbox

With no response from Komnata, Fro eventually cancelled the charges. However, driven by hilarious memories of the real-life version, 7 Sinful Pleasures, as well as a casual disregard for credit card safety, she reordered the game. This second attempt worked. The game showed up in her inbox.

Fro brought this bundle of puzzling pleasure to our home. We poured ourselves some wine, established a safeword, and let the experience unfold.

An attractive redhead in lingerie, rolling stockings up her leg.

… And the first thing we encountered was an entire print-and-play game formatted for metric paper that we didn’t %^&*ing have. Once we figured out how to handle that nonsense (more on that later), we got things started.

What we witnessed was a fairly competent, if unremarkable puzzle game blended with a strange mix of sexual imagery. From moment to moment Sinful Pleasures bounced between cheeky teasing and hardcore imagery, never really committing to one or the other… which was off-putting. Were we supposed to laugh with this game or be aroused by it? I have no idea. Both were acceptable options as this game was clearly labeled for adults, but at some point you have to pick one and commit.

In the end, Sinful Pleasures felt like the game equivalent of a person who thinks that if they crack enough sex jokes, their crush will sleep with them.

Who is this for?

  • Leisure Suit Larry fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

If you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You have the sense of humor of a horny middle schooler
  • You like puzzles
  • Metric paper is loaded in your printer

Story

There was an ARG standing in the way of our friend Richard and an invite to a sex party. We had to help him get in.

In-game text chat, the main character exclaims, "Hey, this is Richard You can call me Dick. Thank you for giving me a hand."
Continue reading “Komnata Quest – Sinful Pleasures [Review]”

Gruzzle – The Will [Review]

Consulting Puzzler

Location:  at home

Date Played: March 23, 2020

Team size: we recommend 2-4

Duration: about 2 hours

Price:  $30 per game, delivered every other month; $87 for 6-month subscription, $172 for a year’s subscription

REA Reaction

Gruzzle is a subscription puzzle service. They send a tabletop escape game-style puzzle box to you every other month. The Will was their second game, released in November 2020.

The Will required nothing more than what came in the box and provided a fun and satisfying evening of tabletop puzzle solving. The puzzles were approachable, cleanly clued, and made creative use of paper components.

Envelopes with different items printed on them.

Although the storytelling didn’t resonate with us, it wasn’t the reason to play. This was a game for people who want to solve elegant puzzles at an approachable difficulty level.

With The Will, Gruzzle is poised for a successful subscription model. The components are inexpensive, and the puzzles are well designed. Every other month is a substantial commitment, but if they are able to keep up the quality of puzzles they’ve established with The Will, Gruzzle offers good value in the tabletop puzzle subscription market. We look forward to seeing more from Gruzzle.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Good for less experienced puzzlers

Why play?

  • Nifty tangible interactions
  • Little aha moments throughout the experience

Story

A wealthy philanthropist had passed away and left her fortune to her equally philanthropic grandchildren. However, she’d hid the fortune behind a series of puzzles, and that’s where we came in. The family had hired us to serve as a consulting puzzler to earn their inheritance for them.

The Gruzzle box depicts a child looking through a magnifying glass.
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Puzzling Package – The Runes of Odin [Review]

By Odin’s Drinking Horn

Location:  at home

Date Played: March 2021

Team size: we recommend 2-4

Duration: 4-5 hours

Price: $135

REA Reaction

The Runes of Odin felt like a complicated tabletop escape game… or a light alternate reality game (ARG). We were presented with a few beautiful artifacts, many documents, and just a little direction. From that point it was on us to read, analyze, and puzzle our way to answers.

This was a higher commitment experience than most of the tabletop games that find their way into our dining room. It was well executed. The story was extensive and engaging, and most of the puzzles were solid, with one standout and one that didn’t do anything for us.

Our biggest issues with this game were two fold:

  • The hint system was under baked for how demanding the game was.
  • The ratio of flavor to gameplay felt off. There was so much to read, touch, and look at, but if you took the true puzzle components and looked at them in isolation, they made up a small fraction of the game.

All of this culminated in a big mystery… which may be exactly what you’re looking for. The Runes of Odin wants you to pour a drink, sit back, and take your time with its world. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is a great game. If spending 4+ hours reading and analyzing documents sounds like more than you’re looking for, then you’ll likely want to explore a different game. It really is a matter of time and taste.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Artifact collectors
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Collectible artifacts
  • Extensive world-building
  • Some strong puzzles

Story

Argonaut Exports dealt in ancient artifacts. When they’d happened upon an academic’s half-finished research into Odin, they’d asked us to see what we could discover about the Norse god.

Continue reading “Puzzling Package – The Runes of Odin [Review]”

Puzzle Post – The Missing Flight [Review]

A quick flight

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 16, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: about £12.99 + shipping

REA Reaction

Puzzle Post’s The Missing Flight was a well-constructed, approachable puzzle game with a bit of story.

Everything was lean and cleanly presented through assorted paper components, with solid graphic design.

An assortment of paper puzzle components, including a napkin, and a coaster.

From a puzzling standpoint, The Missing Flight was clean and straightforward. The puzzles solved elegantly, and didn’t have any layers or complicated twists. We finished everything in about 30 minutes, taking each puzzle one at a time, at a comfortable pace.

The underlying technology had easy solution validation, and a self-service hint system. One of my favorite features of this game was the fact that they have localized phone numbers for US and British customers. This seems small, but this kind of care means a lot.

The one thing that jumped out to me when I took a look at the hint system was that, while the hinting was fairly humorous, sometimes it felt a little more focused on entertainment value than it was hint delivery.

Overall, The Missing Flight was a fun entry level game. There was a lot of care put into it. It was compact, and player-friendly. While it didn’t have the narrative or mechanical depth that I personally seek, I think that it’s a great game for newer players, and folks who enjoy straightforward, low-commitment puzzling. I might not normally seek a game like this out, but I honestly enjoyed banging through these puzzles.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: A small table
  • Required Gear: Paper, pencil, and an internet connected device (a laptop is best)

Buy your copy of Puzzle Post’s The Missing Flight, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Puzzle Post provided a sample for review.

Enigma Emporium – Puzzle Postcards Series 2: Cycle of Learning [Review]

Insufficient Postage?

Location:  at home

Date Played: January, 2021

Team size: we recommend 2-4

Duration: 8-15 hours

Price: about $50

REA Reaction

I really like Enigma Emporium. From the moment that they entered the scene, I found myself taken by the amount of content that they crammed into a few postcards. I’ve also truly respected their sustainable business model. I think what they do makes sense.

It’s with that in mind that I say that Puzzle Postcards Series 2: Cycle of Learning was just ok.

The puzzles were fine, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then I think you’ll find them enjoyable… but this many installments in, it felt like the product line had stalled.

Puzzle envelopes for the 4 games.

Cohesion & Creative Direction

Each of the 4 standalone envelopes within Puzzle Postcards Series 2: Cycle of Learning had a unique theme. Let’s focus on the most eye-catching of the bunch, Cryptic Cryptids. There was an opportunity to pull us into a story by using the postcards, prose, and puzzles to make something cohesive and distinctive… and that didn’t happen. There was a brilliant concept to work with, but that concept felt more like background noise.

Puzzle post cards fanned out.

Postcards are an incredibly inexpensive medium to work with. When I look at the price of these puzzles, we are paying for the art, the writing, and the puzzle design. The puzzles were the only portion that carried its weight.

Puzzle Integration

As I said, the puzzles in Puzzle Postcards Series 2: Cycle of Learning were good. Reasonable people could disagree about some of the cluing, but where I really felt let down was that a week after solving these, I couldn’t remember which puzzles went with which installment.

Ultimately, the entire game felt like a puzzle book in loose-leaf form. Another page, another puzzle. And again, that’s not inherently bad… but for the price, this needed more to grab and hold my attention.

I say this knowing that the folks from Enigma Emporium are capable of pushing their products into a cohesive and coherent direction. We’ve seen them do it.

Cycle of Learning game box has a 3d mobius strip

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: A small table
  • Required Gear: An internet-connected device, pen, paper

Buy your copy of Enigma Emporium’s Puzzle Postcards Series 2: Cycle of Learning, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Enigma Emporium provided a sample for review.