Enigmailed – Chocolateral Bars [Hivemind Review]

Chocolateral Bars are chocolate bars wrapped in puzzles, created by Enigmailed.

A piece of chocolate resting on its green packaging, labeled, "Mind Dark Chocolate, The Case of the Fatal Experiment."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Light puzzle hunt
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: Mouth, tongue, and eyes. Also, lactose tolerance.

No other equipment needed, but pen and paper helps for writing down answers.

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: Each bar took about 15 minutes to solve. One reviewer adds, “and a little less time to eat” while another writes, “but longer to eat the chocolate.” We conclude that chocolate consumption speed varies more than solving speed.

Price: £5.50 per bar (plus shipping)

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Step 1 – Read mystery on the packaging.

Step 2 – Eat chocolate while solving puzzles, using context clue in packaging. Share if desired.

Step 3 – Enter answers on webpage via QR code… and order more chocolate.

Step 4 – Go to Step 1.

Packaging for two individual chocolate bars: green, labeled, "Mind Dark Chocolate, The Case of the Fatal Experiment." Yellow labeled, "Honeycomb Milk Chocolate, The Case of the Honeycomb Sting."

Meridian Adventure Co – The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg [Hivemind Review]

Illustrated veiw of Little Sodaburg, features a castle, a church, a large fish fountain, and assorted buildings.

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an online puzzle game created by Meridian Adventure Co that combines puzzle style elements from escape rooms, ARGs, and video games.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Web-based gameplay
  • Includes video elements

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-5

Play Time: 75 minutes

Price: $125 for 2-6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

The Traveler’s Guide to Little Sodaburg is an online game with an in-character game host (not an avatar whom you control). Players solve puzzles collaboratively with their teammates using a variety of in-universe websites.

Black & white illustration of the Little Sodaburg Patent Office

Exit: The Game – The Cursed Labyrinth [Hivemind Review]

The Cursed Labyrinth is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game, The Cursed Labyrinth box art with a stone maze structure on the cover.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A phone is not required but there is an app with a timer and background sounds.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

While touring the grounds of a castle, you wander into a mysterious labyrinth and become trapped with only your puzzle-solving skills to save you. Your adventure follows the standard format for novice Exit: The Game installments.

You have access to a puzzle book, clue cards, various “strange items,” and a decoder wheel for entering the solutions to puzzles. In the novice games like this one, the puzzle book walks you through one puzzle at a time. As in all Exit: The Game installments, you must embrace destroying various parts of the game to solve some of the puzzles, though this installment preserves more components than most.

Assorted game components including a maze, a solution wheel, card deck, and instructions.

Cindi S’ Reaction

During a visit to an ancient castle, you discover a mysterious stone labyrinth in the nearby gardens. Unable to resist, you walk through the entry gate to explore further and quickly become trapped as the doors slam shut! In The Cursed Labyrinth, you will meet mysterious creatures as you puzzle your way through the maze’s twists and turns. I always enjoy the sound effects in the companion app, and for the first time they added a character voice reading the introduction, which immediately brought the story to life. The puzzles were fun to discover and solve, as always, but a few had more direction than usual, making The Cursed Labyrinth less challenging than other Exit: The Game installments. This is a very good choice for younger players and beginners, but experienced players will still enjoy their path through the Labyrinth.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

During a tour of an old castle, you and your friends find yourself trapped in a complicated maze with all sorts of creatures in Exit: The Game’s The Cursed Labyrinth. With two or three reaches that stretch past the Novice rating on the box, this game would be most appropriate for a group of 2-4 people (including a few adults) that have played at least one Exit: The Game installment before. There were several puzzles executed with new game mechanics that will interest even those people who have played a number of games in this series before. That being said, while Exit Game installments are typically translated flawlessly into English, there is one hint card that notes to pay attention to text in cursive, which is incorrect and may be misleading.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Exit: The Game series is usually a fairly positive experience for me, usually containing clever puzzles and fun interactions that break from my expectations, given the game components. The Cursed Labyrinth lived up to its ‘cursed’ title and was one of the weakest additions to the Exit: The Game series so far. From vague extractions that weren’t well clued, arbitrary deciphering, and lack of signposting, this game fell apart. While a handful of puzzles were easy to solve, they felt more like a process and less like solving a puzzle. The game had either extremely easy, but satisfying solves, or poorly executed difficult puzzles, with none of them quite landing in the middle. Each puzzle in the game was a good idea, and could have been a cleaner solve, but in the current state, I really cannot recommend The Cursed Labyrinth. If you’re looking to pick up a title in the series, I’d recommend The Enchanted Forest or The Gate Between Worlds.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

This was a solidly average Exit: The Game installment with no major flaws, but also no major wow moments. The setting of a “cursed labyrinth” offered coherent mythological theming throughout the game, but resulted in visually murky game materials. All of the puzzles were reasonable with fairly obvious cluing, though a couple required us to reason about game mechanics in ways that benefitted from familiarity with those mechanics. There was also a surprising red herring, which was rather unusual for the series and was particularly disappointing in this case because we were otherwise intrigued by it.

New to Exit: The Game? Maybe don’t start here. Although some puzzles provide decent onramps to the series’s mechanics, there are too many that expect more familiarity with those mechanics than a first-time player is likely to develop within their first play.

Fan of Exit: The Game? If you gravitate toward the easier, more linear installments in the series, this game is a fine choice with a couple of interesting twists on game mechanics. Don’t expect anything mind-blowing, and you’ll have a nice time.

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Diorama – The Vandermist Dossier [Hivemind Review]

The Vandermist Dossier is a tabletop narrative puzzle adventure created by Diorama in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Vandermist Dossier box beside an assortment of interesting components, including a map, a newspaper and a strange spiral device.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop narrative puzzle adventure

Required Equipment: pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 90 minutes

Price: from €41 (about $48) plus shipping on Kickstarter

Booking: back on Kickstarter to purchase at play at your leisure

Description

Abigail Vandermist disappeared in 1979 but not before compiling a dossier of information about strange occurrences that she was investigating. You have been hired for your sleuthing skills to analyze the dossier and determine what happened to Abigail. To do this, you must read through a variety of media to locate clues, decode hidden messages, combine items, and ultimately answer where Abigail is now.

Exit: The Game – The Gate Between Worlds [Hivemind Review]

The Gate Between Worlds is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game: The Gate Between Worlds box art has an orange portal set in a circular stone with symbols along the inner edge.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A phone is not required but there is an app with a timer and background sounds.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 1-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Venturing through the “Gate Between Worlds,” you travel throughout the universe in this game in an attempt to puzzle yourself home. This game delivers information through a series of “world” pamphlets that you progress through by entering solutions into the “gate between worlds’ (i.e. the standard Exit: The Game decoder wheel.) You also manipulate several “strange objects” throughout the course of the game. As in all Exit: The Game installments, you must embrace destroying various parts of the game to solve some of the puzzles.

Assorted items from Exit's Gate Between Worlds features an unusual decoder wheel.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

If someone asked which Exit: The Game installment to start with, I would not hesitate to say The Gate Between Worlds. It introduced posters into the player experience, which provided a quick and easy way to expand the game space as we explored seven different worlds via a “mysterious circular gate.” The game was a great representation of the wide variety of puzzle mechanics that Exit: The Game installments typically employ, all of which were fair and did not require large logical leaps to complete. I would feel comfortable recommending The Gate Between Worlds to both beginners and enthusiasts alike; 2-4 people would be the ideal number of players.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

This was a standard mid-level Exit: The Game installment whose most noteworthy features were its fun thematic variations on its game pieces. Instead of a riddle book, we had a series of pamphlet-like “worlds” to unlock, and the decoder disk served as the titular “gate between worlds.” This framework provided a basic narrative coherence to the experience even though voyaging through the disparate worlds yielded a mishmash of thematically incongruous puzzles. From a story perspective, the most logical puzzles stemmed from the voyage itself rather than any of the destinations.

Individual puzzles ranged from one significant frustration early in the game to some pleasantly multi-step ahas near the end, with most puzzles being solid and approachable. From a cluing perspective, this level 3 installment provided a decent bridge to more difficult levels as it guided players to think through connections that spanned multiple pieces of information. The game also leaned more heavily on “strange objects” than other typical Exit: The Game tricks, and the latter seemed more explicitly clued than in some easier installments. This enhanced the game’s value as an onramp to the series, but inherently left less to discover on your own.

New to Exit: The Game? This game was approachable enough to play as a newcomer to the series. Its few but significant frustrations wouldn’t be avoided with experience. However, the fun parts were a fair representation of the series.

Fan of Exit: The Game? This game’s unique thematic skinning added interesting flavor, but its gameplay was fairly average for the series and felt a little less “Exit-y” than usual. It was fun but not a standout to me.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Gate Between Worlds continues the story from The Cemetery of the Knight, where you discovered a map to a mystical gate. In this adventure, you actually find the gate and set out to discover its secrets! My experience with Exit: The Game installments is that they always manage to do the unexpected, and this game is no exception. I was surprised to find only one Riddle Card instead of the usual stack, and no puzzle booklet at all. Instead, you explore individual worlds depicted on separate posters, which gives the game a little more structure and momentum than the typical Exit: The Game installment. I liked the variety of puzzles, some easy and some more involved (although there were two that were a bit of a stretch.) It’s a good thing you can only play this game once, because I completely ruined a game component by being a bit overzealous trying to get to the solution of one very unusual puzzle! The Gate Between Worlds exemplifies how the Exit: The Game formula is really about breaking away from the formula in compelling and satisfying ways. I don’t know if this story will continue in a future installment, but I do know the next one I play will, like always, be something I didn’t expect.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Gate Between Worlds was one of the best installments in the Exit: The Game series yet. The varied game mechanics, use of objects in unexpected ways, and creative puzzle executions made this game shine. This is the first Exit: The Game installment where my group did not need any hints, not because it was easy but because it lacked the typical 1-2 logic leaps the other installments usually contain. We really loved the small aha moments in every puzzle, with each solve leading to an equally satisfying reveal. If you’re going to pick up one of the most recent Exit: The Game installments, this one’s awesome!

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.