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]”

Improbable Escapes – Neverland: Heist on the High Seas [Hivemind Review]

Neverland: Heist on the High Seas is a livestreamed adaptation of an in-person escape room, by Improbable Escapes in Kingston, ON

In-game: An old locked box sunk into the dirt.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Adaptation of an in-person game (can be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players
  • Web-based inventory system

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $28.25 CAD per player

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This an avatar-led escape game with a kid-friendly theme and puzzles.

There is an inventory website where you see photos of the room and puzzles. Occasionally you type a password into the website to reveal more photos. Other than that, the livestream is through Zoom, as usual.

In-game: Interior of a pirate ship. A large chest sits in the middle.

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Leenook – L’Équation [Hivemind Review]

L’Équation is a point-and-click adaptation of an in-person game. The original game was created by Sauve Qui Peut, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada. It was translated into a digital format by Leenook.

Leenook interface with built-in video chat and 360 photo of an office.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Adaptation of an in-person game (can be played IRL)
  • Point-and-click

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

This interface was very particular about browser window aspect ratio. We recommend a large screen, if possible.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $23 CAD per player

Booking: book online for a specific time

Description

This was a faithful point-and-click adaptation of the real-life escape room L’Équation at Sauve Qui Peut. We navigated 360-degree photos of the gamespace. When we clicked on things in the environment either a photo, video, or locking mechanism displayed.

There was a live host to provide support. Every player had their own version of the game, so every person needed to open every lock in order to progress together. There were built-in pause screens that told faster players to wait for their teammates.

Illustration of a locker lock.

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Claustrophobia – Dream Factory [Hivemind Review]

Dream Factory is an online party game created by Claustrophobia in Moscow, Russia.

Dream Factory Communication Game title card, a star scape with a projector.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Party game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 30 or so, pretty flexible

Play Time: 2 hours

Price: $675 per session for about 30-50 people

Booking: contact Claustrophobia to book a specific time slot

Description

This is an online party game played in Zoom. It feels like Cards Against Humanity and What do you Meme with a points structure.

Players are split into different teams, each representing a different production studio in Hollywood. Each round they use their accumulated resources to create the next blockbuster film. Teams meet in Zoom breakout rooms, determine what film to make, and the regroup to each pitch their new movie. A winning team is determined after each round, and after about 5 rounds of play, an overall winner is crowned.

Genre popularity chart with an assortment of genres and their corresponding popularity levels.

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Mystery City – The Monuments Mission [Hivemind Review]

The Monuments Mission is a point-and-click-style game created by Mystery City Games in Amsterdam.

The Monuments Mission logo from Mystery City includes an assortment of documents and keys.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: no timer, but play time is about 1-2 hours

Price: €18 per group

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

In this game, you follow the story of the Monuments Men as they complete various missions to retrieve artwork that was stolen by the Nazis in World War II. Each mission slowly unfolds through alternating story and puzzle sections. The puzzles involve light point-and-click interactions with maps, photographs, and other objects. Overall, there are six missions (plus training), and each mission contains around 5 puzzles.

It was unclear how best to collaborate remotely to play this game. Some of our reviewers opted to play together over Google meet with each player running their own version of the game simultaneously.

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