Bluefish Games – Hincks Gazette [Review]

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Puzzle newspaper is surprisingly satisfying!”

Location:  at home

Date Played: June 7, 2020

Team size: 1-2; we recommend 1-2

Duration: 1-2 hours

Price: $22 for 3 months, $39 for 6 months

REA Reaction

Quick, affordable, and surprisingly fun… with an emphasis on the surprise.

A copy of the Hincks Gazette being held up in front of a fireplace. The frontpage headline reads, "Talking plants now talking back. House plants sassing families all over town."

I don’t typically enjoy the writing in tabletop puzzle games, but The Hincks Gazette was humorous and well written.

The puzzle types that Bluefish Games used throughout this experience fell into categories that I usually dislike, but Bluefish Games managed to make each and every puzzle intriguing and exciting.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, and each time I started thinking, “this isn’t going to be for me,” my expectations were subverted in the best kind of way.

Quick-hit subscription games are tough. It’s hard to sustainably produce quality content on an ongoing basis. Will The Hincks Gazette maintain this level of quality over the long haul? I cannot say. For now, however, I’m really happy with this product and wholeheartedly recommend it for word puzzlers.

I doubt that The Hincks Gazette will blow your mind, but for the price and the level of commitment, like The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, this was easy to recommend.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Smart puzzling in an elegant and inexpensive package
  • It’s funny

Story

We picked up a newspaper with a curiously incomplete story about sassy talking houseplants and how to make them stop being mean. The catch was that the last part was missing, and we really needed to fix our talking houseplant. The negativity was getting to us.

Continue reading “Bluefish Games – Hincks Gazette [Review]”

Great Escape – Survivor [Review]

“We’re going to talk about this game forever.” -Dan Egnor

Location:  Athens, Greece

Date Played: March 3, 2020

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: from €50 per team of 2 to €105 per team of 7

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating:  We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Survivor was one of those rare, unforgettable games… one of those games that left me amazed that it exists at all. Survivor was a game that – as one of my travel companions said – I’ll be talking about forever.

In-game: A man sitting on a rock in a cave.
Image via Great Escape

This game took place over 2 acts.

The first act consisted of a reasonably traditional escape room experience. The set was lovely and the puzzles were mediocre, but the weak puzzle flow was smoothed over by a helpful character who swiftly jumped in front of otherwise obvious flaws in game design. The actor did this so effectively that we honestly enjoyed what would have been a disaster in almost any other game.

In-game: A cargo net under a thatch roof.
Image via Great Escape

The second act… I can’t spoil it. The most memorable part of this game was realizing what the second act was. The second act was a physical challenge. Great Escape’s booking page warns:

  • “Not suitable for people with fear of heights.
  • Athletic clothing is necessary.
  • Require basic physical abilities.
  • Recommended players to carry a second pair of shoes and socks.”

You can infer quite a bit from those warnings.

So the question that I’ve been pondering since playing this game was:

“Did I like Survivor?”

My feelings were and remain complicated:

  • I’m glad that I played it, but this game was not for me, not at all.
  • Lisa would have loved it, but she missed it due to her real job.
  • I’m honestly amazed that anyone thought to build this thing, and I legitimately wonder if the building can handle the weight of this game.

I recommend this for people who like physical adventure and have good balance. (That’s my struggle, if I’m being honest.) Be prepared for a workout because Survivor was a wild ride.

Who is this for?

  • The physically fit
  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A hilarious actor/ gamemaster
  • The reveal of the last act 👀

Story

We were a group of explorers traveling by hot air balloon when a storm had brought us down on an uninhabited island. We’d created a raft and attempted to leave, but another storm had dragged us back to the other side of the island, where we hadn’t yet ventured.

This side of the island was full of surprises.

In-game: The interior of a cabin.
Image via Great Escape
Continue reading “Great Escape – Survivor [Review]”

Escape New Haven – Escape.Anywhere: Before Moonrise [Hivemind Review]

Escape.Anywhere: Before Moonrise is a real-life escape room livestreamed through an avatar, created by Escape New Haven in New Haven, CT.

A pair of hands in black latex gloves manipulating an old rotary phone.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room livestreamed through an avatar

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $89 for the entire group (online playthrough)

Booking: Book online for a specific time slot. Note, Escape New Haven is now offering both in-person and online playthroughs of this game.

This escape room has the option for a “regular” mode or a “hard” mode, which adds a couple of additional puzzles.

Description

This is played over Zoom. The gamemaster shows you around the room via a camera. Photos of things you notice in the room appear in your web inventory for reference.

A black gloved hand pointing at a door inside of a cabin.

Hivemind Review Scale

Next Level Escape – Temporal Tangle Online [Hivemind Review]

Temporal Tangle Online is a recreation of a real-life escape room as a digital point-and-click adventure game created by Next Level Escape in Sydney, Australia.

A large hallway with tall ceilings and lage pillars. Across the way is a screen that reads "Mission Briefing" beside a big, glowing, blue portal.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room converted to digital play as a point-and-click adventure game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

The game can be computer-intensive, so I recommend running their free demo before purchasing the game.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 1-2 hours, depending how leisurely you choose to play

Price: $35 AUD (about $24 USD)

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

It looks like you’re in a real escape room, but interaction is browser-based point-and-click, and works like any other computer-based escape rooms that you might have played before. The interactions are streamlined and don’t require fiddly positioning.

It is a single-player game, but lends itself to co-playing. Several friends could each play on their own systems at the same time and share information or discuss the game via whatever voice or video chat they prefer.

A small fox puzzzle and a robot toy. Text reads, "Can I pull apart this puzzle? Nope, it's glued together, What kind of monster destroys a puzzle by gluing it in place?"

Hivemind Review Scale

Bluefish Games – The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks [Review]

Going up!

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 31, 2020

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2

Duration: 3-5 hours (we took considerably less time)

Price: $35

REA Reaction

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks was structurally innovative and filled with strong, crafty puzzles with a robust hint system.

Bluefish Games had been working for years to develop a product that they were happy with… and I know for a fact that they threw away at least one idea that they had gone deep into development on.

Initial opening of the box shows a wide variety of paper components.

Were there a few areas that could have been improved? Sure. The totally fine, but not-on-the-level-of-the-rest-of-the-game final puzzle comes to mind.

Overall, years of quietly testing ideas and honing their product seems to have paid off for Bluefish Games.

If you’re new to tabletop puzzling, this is a great place to start.

If you love tabletop puzzling and you’ve been around the block a few times, I’m betting that The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks will still find a few ways to surprise and delight you.

Recommending this game is an easy decision.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Some innovative puzzle design
  • Smooth gameplay
  • A strong self-service hint system

Story

Eccentric inventor Mr. Stephen P. Hincks had spent years developing his bepuzzled elevator. He was finally ready to show it to us.

Each floor that we visited had a “gift” in the form of a puzzle for us to untangle.

Curious Elevator of Mr Hincks box art, on a card board box.
Continue reading “Bluefish Games – The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks [Review]”