Cantaloop Book 1: Breaking into Prison [Review]

Point-and-click Adventure Game Book (Seriously)

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 8, 2021

Team size: 1; we recommend 1-4

Duration: 5-8 hours

Price: about $30

REA Reaction

Cantaloop Book 1: Breaking into Prison was described to me as “a really good point-and-click adventure game in book form… that actually feels like a point-and-click adventure game.”

After taking this product into the lab and studying it, I can confirm that description as entirely accurate.

Cantaloop book cover depicts the main character in a mugshot with a lot of swagger.

The art, writing, characters, and puzzle design all worked together to feel like a great point-and-click adventure game. The difference is that you can play it in a small group, with physical (albeit mostly paper) props, and enjoy it communally… like an escape room.

Our group of 4 loved playing Cantaloop. It was smart, funny, and craftily designed, with all of the tropes that make people love (or hate) point-and-click adventure games. If that sounds appealing to you, then this is a must-buy. If you despise point-and-click adventure games on computer, I doubt that Cantaloop will suddenly convert you.

When we finished playing, we mused about how this game could easily be translated into a mobile app, and go full point-and-click adventure game… but concluded that it shouldn’t, because it would be less fun.

Paper might be the future of the point-and-click adventure genre. No joke.

Who is this for?

  • Point-and-click adventure lovers
  • Story seekers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Strong writing and characters
  • Tons of humor
  • It felt like a proper point-and-click adventure

Story

Charismatic crook “Hook” Carpenter is back on Cantaloop Island and assembling a new team for one last job. The catch: the hacker he needs for this job is locked up in prison.

An in-game environmental image of a light house.
Continue reading “Cantaloop Book 1: Breaking into Prison [Review]”

Swamp Motel – Plymouth Point [Hivemind Review]

Plymouth Point is an online game with elements of puzzle hunt and ARG, created by Swamp Motel.

An older woman on Zoom.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Light puzzle hunt
  • Video-based experience

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 75 minutes

Price: $75 for a group of 2-6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

Plymouth Point is an online experience that included a Zoom call with sleuthing around the internet. In the Zoom meeting we had an introduction by the main character (gamemaster). Then we went bouncing around the web using Facebook, websites developed by the game, Google Earth, etc. to track the missing person and solve the mystery. To solve certain clues, we needed a phone (call) and a Facebook login. This game required a large amount of screen sharing via Zoom as we visited all these websites.

Hivemind Review Scale

Clue Chase – Scarab’s Curse [Hivemind Review]

Scarab’s Curse is a web-based puzzle game created by Clue Chase in New York City.

A panoramic view of art and hieroglyphics in an ancient Egyptian tomb.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Web-based puzzle game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper, mobile device

One puzzle requires you to call a US phone number.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: $20 per team

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

This game takes place on a website where you get a bit of the plot, solve a puzzle, enter the solution and then get to the next page (and the process repeats). Sometimes you find clues for later puzzles that you need to write down because you can’t return to a page once you leave it. It does have a hint system, but no gamemaster. Be prepared to read a lot in this game.

A video crew filming in an Egyptian tomb reads, Congratulations, for finding the murderer!

Hivemind Review Scale

Ravensburger – The Temple Grounds Escape Puzzle [Review]

Wandering through the jungle

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 2020

Team size: We recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $33 (as of review)

Publisher: Ravensburger

REA Reaction

Ravensburger’s The Temple Grounds Escape Puzzle hasn’t had an official release in the United States, but it is available on Amazon for a few dollars over retail price, and our copy was sent to us by Tammy McLeod, REA Hivemind Reviewer, and jigsaw puzzle Guinness World Record holder.

After spending a couple of days solving The Temple Grounds, I’d wager a guess as to why it hasn’t been republished in the United States: it’s a damn hard jigsaw puzzle. It’s the most difficult of the series thus far, in our opinion. It’s overwhelmingly green and brown, with low contrast.

Ravensburger Temple Grounds Escape puzzle box art.
The box art has much higher contrast than the actual puzzle. Was this a printing error?

Difficulty does not make this a bad jigsaw puzzle; it’s more than solvable. There are textures and patterns to work with… but they are harder to identify and more nuanced than what we’ve seen from the rest of the Escape Puzzle series.

The escape puzzles within the finished picture solved cleanly, although one of these puzzles really suffered from the dark shades of brown and muddy contrast.

The other struggle with this puzzle was the edge (which is always a bit strange in Escape Puzzles). There were edge pieces that we could not rationally fit into the puzzle. This was by far the weakest element of the product.

Overall, The Temple Grounds is the Ravensburger Escape Puzzles on hard mode. Don’t play this as an introduction to the Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle format. If you’re new to Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle series, try out the Space Observatory or Witch’s Kitchen for a fantastic starting place. The Temple Grounds is for skilled jigsaw puzzle solvers who like a puzzle that requires a higher level of skill or a willingness to grind through the challenge.

While I am happy that I solved it, I also think it’s fine if this one isn’t re-released more broadly.

Series Overview

This review only covers details specific to this individual Ravensburger Escape Puzzle.

For a detailed explanation of the concept and mechanics, and a general analysis of the entire product line, check out our Ravensburger Escape Puzzle Overview.

Story

While exploring the ruins of an ancient temple, we’d stepped in the wrong place and slipped down a steep slope into the ruins. With the sun going down, we needed to find our way out.

Skulls in a swamp-like environment.

Analysis

❓/➖ The puzzle art felt optimized around difficulty. There was a lot to look at, but it wasn’t fun to view. There was a ton of visual noise.

➕ The puzzles solved cleanly.

➖ While one low contrast puzzle was solvable, the details were so challenging to see that my fellow solvers struggled to see the key clues even when I was pointing right at them.

➖ There were edge pieces that seemed to have no real home within the puzzle. The Escape Puzzle’s edge pieces are an essential part of the concluding metapuzzle, so there is always a bit of oddness with these, but this took it to a far stranger place. It felt like the edge was doctored after the fact to make the puzzle work, but no one took the time to make any of the adjustments feel even remotely organic.

➖ The metapuzzle was cute, but nowhere near entertaining enough to justify how botched the puzzle’s edge design was. This also made it fairly easy to backsolve the puzzles within the picture. It was sloppy.

❓ This was a hard puzzle. Whether that’s good or bad is in the eyes of the solver.

An iguana looking at a puzzle.

➕ The hints were detailed and clear (even if a small, inconsequential segment wasn’t fully translated into English).

Buy It Now

Pickup your copy of Ravensburger’s The Temple Grounds Escape Puzzle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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Stitch Media – Flow Weaver [Hivemind Review]

Flow Weaver is a narrative-driven adventure game in VR with puzzles, created by Stitch Media.

Flow Weaver title art, set in a 3D rendered VR world.

Format

Style of Play:

  • VR
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: VR headset – It’s only available to be played on Oculus headsets (Rift, Quest).

Recommended Team Size: 1

Play Time: about 3 hours

Price: $19.99

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Flow Weaver is a narrative-driven adventure game with puzzles. This is a seated VR game (no actual walking around the space.) You can pick up objects, examine objects, place objects to solve puzzles, teleport, observe the environment, and watch cutscenes.

Hivemind Review Scale