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.

Lisa & David Talk Box One & the State of the Tabletop Escape World on Puzzling Company

Last week we sat down for a lovely conversation with Jared and Zack of the tabletop escape gaming podcast Puzzling Company.

Illustrated Puzzling Company Podcast logo depicts two guys playing a tabletop escape game.

In the first half, we talked about the incredible Box One. In the other two halves, we talked about the state of the tabletop escape room world… there is a lot of episode here (~2 hours and 15 minutes worth of episode).

We talk about the different types of tabletop escape games: mass market, bespoke, and subscription. We cover the product life cycle too. Then we also dig into many of the 11 Principles of Tabletop Escape Game Design. And the conversation goes far deeper.

Give Them A Subscribe

If you’re into tabletop escape games, you should be following Puzzling Company. These guys are doing it right, and for the right reasons.

Checkout their 10 episode catalog with more on the way.

Escape Game Adventure: Trapped in Space [Book Review]

Erreurs dans l’espace

Location:  at home

Date Played: January 18 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-family

Duration: 15-60 minutes

Price: about $10

REA Reaction

Trapped in Space was a sloppy product that had lots of potential.

The Escape Game Adventure series originates in France, and the English version is a translation. Over the past few installments, there have been minor issues such as typos or odd phrasing, but it hasn’t presented any meaningful issues.

In this installment there were two translation/ localization issues that felt like critical failures:

  • A full puzzle that output its solution in French
  • A puzzle that rendered an image that likely won’t be clear to American children due to cultural nuance
Cover art for Escape Game Adventure Trapped in Space shows a damaged spaceship.

To top it all off, many of the puzzles in this Trapped in Space played a little too loosely with cluing for my liking.

I really like the Escape Game Adventure series, but I categorically cannot recommend Trapped in Space in its current form. Play literally any other book in this product line.

Story

We traveled with Dooz to the year 3144 to rescue a team of space explorers whose ship had been disabled after an attack by an alien species.

Illustration of a damaged spaceship seen from within the ship's bridge.

Analysis

The analysis in this section is about the content of Trapped in Space. To see our analysis of the structure, refer to our Escape Game Adventure Books overview.

Trapped in Space’s story was grand, fun, and the kind of storytelling that would have spoken to me as a child.

➕ The art in Trapped in Space was great. It captured the epic space opera vibe brilliantly.

➕ /➖ The puzzles were a mixed bag of fairly common puzzle types. While they all solved fine, there were a number of moments where it felt like the cluing was tenuous at best.

Dooze the robot pointing confidently, saying, "We'll be stronger together! Attack!"

➖ One puzzle was never translated into English. The surrounding text was in English, but the puzzle itself output a French solution. If you’re playing this with your kid… maybe teach them to count to 30 in French first?

➖ Another lesser, but still serious issue, was a puzzle that output a solution in a decidedly French form. In France, 7’s and Z’s are crossed, which is not common in the United States, and will likely make one puzzle needlessly confusing.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table
  • Required Gear: pencil, scissors

Buy your copy of Trapped in Space, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: we received a media sample for review.

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