Eleven Puzzles – Parallel Lab [Hivemind Review]

Parallel Lab is a point-and-click adventure game created by Eleven Puzzles in Poland and Scotland.

A comic of two people speaking, discussing the case at hand.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on-demand (i.e. purchase and play any time)
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2

Play Time: 60-120 minutes

Price: $20 per team

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Each player connects from their own computer (via web browser). They proceed to play in parallel, with the each player having access to a set of information and puzzles that the other player does not see. Players must share information verbally and coordinate their efforts to progress, with the story remaining synchronized for both players.

An illustration of a basement hacker's den with many monitors.
Continue reading “Eleven Puzzles – Parallel Lab [Hivemind Review]”

Trapped Puzzle Rooms – Confectionary Countdown [Hivemind Review]

Confectionary Countdown is a tabletop escape game created by Trapped Puzzle Rooms in St. Paul, MN.

Confectionary Countdown box beside a calendar and a stack of cards.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Light puzzle hunt
  • Tabletop escape game

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: pen and paper, internet-connected device for checking answers

Parchment paper or other tracing paper will come in handy.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: Each puzzle required from 5-15 minutes to complete, depending on the complexity. In total, the game takes a few hours, either all at once or spread out over a month. Your choice!

Price: $39.95

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Confectionary Countdown is divided into 4 sections, and each section has individual puzzles and one meta puzzle. You can do one puzzle per day, or one section, or all the puzzles at once. The puzzles are mostly word puzzles, and outside knowledge/ internet access is needed for several puzzles, unless you are extremely knowledgeable about a lot of different, random subjects. One final puzzle pulls from the prior sections.

Confectionary Countdown box beside a set of 30 fanned out cards with dessert names.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Confectionary Countdown was a pretty sweet little puzzle hunt. (See what I did there?) I was perhaps a tad bit disappointed to learn that despite its title, this dessert-themed game was not accompanied by any actual edible sweets. The concept was very clever, though. The game is meant to act as a countdown of sorts similar to an Advent calendar. Players may choose to solve one puzzle card per day or as many as they’d like in one sitting. There are different color-coded sections, which each resolve to a meta answer. Be sure to track your answers because there is an ultimate meta puzzle at the end. The game wasn’t perfect and there were a few minor errata throughout (only one of which was officially noted in my review copy) but they were easily bypassed. I appreciated the very clear, incremental hint system on the website and made good use of it for some subtle nudging on a couple of puzzles. Overall, this was a very enjoyable puzzle hunt and I’ll even forgive the lack of snack.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Having played both the The Spielburger Box Set and Taco Tuesday by Trapped Puzzle Rooms, I almost expected a giant box of candy-shaped puzzles to show up at my door. Instead, Confectionary Countdown arrived in a simple box filled with cards. But make no mistake; the game is packed with fun word puzzles that can either be consumed over time (as a countdown to an event) or binged in a single sitting. There is a good variety of dessert-themed puzzles that play to different strengths, letting each one of us feel like the smartest in the room at some point during the game. You can play alone or with a small group; our team of three chose to work the puzzles independently, comparing answers as we solved. This is a great game for puzzle people of all experience levels who want their puzzles in small, bite-sized pieces.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Another great at home, snack-themed puzzle hunt from Trapped Takeout. Great puzzles and fun themes, however, I found it a bit pricey for being basically a box of postcards. Unlike their other game The Spielburger Box Set, which came with cute props and pre-cut items that you manipulated physically, I didn’t really see a need for this to be printed and mailed out. I think this puzzle hunt would be better off as a print-and-play or even just playable on a website for a lower price.

Immersion: Adorable dessert-themed puzzles. The theme carried throughout the entire puzzle hunt and was very cute.

Puzzles: Really fun puzzles, medium difficulty on average. A few of the puzzles required some leaps of connection, and could have used better cluing or signposting, but overall very fun.

Interface: The accompanying website was very easy to use with a granular hint system that gave you tiny nudges without giving the whole puzzle away.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Confectionary Countdown was a palatable pile of dessert-themed puzzles. Whether you solve a puzzle a day in “countdown mode” or complete the game in a few sittings in “gorge mode,” Confectionary Countdown provides a solid few hours of puzzling and a rapid sequence of quick, satisfying wins.

The puzzles included a wide range of light puzzle hunt-style formats, including word puzzles, logic puzzles, observational puzzles, and puzzles that require looking things up. Each puzzle was similar in length and difficulty to those found in Eric Berlin’s Puzzle Snacks. Players loosely familiar with puzzle hunt conventions will have a slight advantage, but the puzzles were quite approachable overall, and an online hint system provided well-written, granular nudges.

As a stack of cards in a box, Confectionary Countdown somewhat lacked the novel physical presentations — which included a pizza box and a stack of DVD cases — that made the other Trapped Takeout games shine. Yet for what it was, this game was attractive, elegant, and compact. As I’ve also noted with some of the previous Trapped Takeout games, Confectionary Countdown could have benefited from a bit more playtesting. I came across a small handful of unaddressed errata throughout the game, and there were certain puzzles that could have been tightened up. Overall, though, the puzzles were cleverly designed, included some fun metapuzzles and a meta-meta, and would provide a sweet dose of holiday cheer for puzzle lovers of any skill level.

Disclosure: Trapped Puzzle Rooms provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries – Superheroes [Hivemind Review]

Superheroes is an online murder mystery game created by Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries.

We’ve reviewed their in-person mysteries Murder in the West Wing, Space Smugglers, and Western. This was their first mystery in an online format.

Cara, Peih-Gee, and David in costume on video chat in Gather.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Interactive NPC(s)
  • Murdery mystery

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • People who want to role-play and interact with each other in character
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of everything going on
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, webcam and microphone

Recommended Team Size: exactly 12 players

Play Time: 2 hours

Price: $30 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

You will be assigned a role, complete with backstory and goals. By interacting with other players in-character, you can try to achieve your goals and advance the story. There are 4 “rounds” to the game, and in each round every player will get additional information and goals.

The superhero HQ in Gather.

Puzzleverse – ISS Crisis [Hivemind Review]

ISS Crisis is an online puzzle game created by Puzzleverse.

ISS CRISIS Created by the Puzzleverse cover art of the cosmos displayed in Zoom.

Format

Style of Play:

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

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $20 per person with a minimum of 4 players ($80)

Booking: book online for a specific time slot OR purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Puzzles are presented via Zoom as a series of slides. Players can collaborate verbally and using Zoom annotation tools.

Story card explaining that we work up on the International Space Station and found ourselves locked in our sleeping quarters.

Hivemind Review Scale

BibRave – Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus [Hivemind Review]

Update July 7, 2021: Note that since this review published BibRave released a less expensive mini version of this experience. See the comments.

Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus is a digital experience that mixes running with puzzles.

Homepage for Run to Escape: Mt. Olympus by Runkeeper. An assortment of illustrated god-characters are scattered about.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Play on demand
  • Audio game

Required Equipment: mobile device with the RunKeeper app, running shoes

Headphones are technically optional, but highly recommended.

Recommended Team Size: 1

Play Time: No timer on each race – run or walk at your own pace. Total of 27 miles across all the races.

Price: $75 per player

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You’re tasked with helping Atalanta prove to the Olympian gods and goddesses that she deserves to be on Mt. Olympus. To do so, you accept the challenge of 6 gods/ goddesses and complete a series of races.

This is a single-player audio game intended to take place over the course of several different runs and post-workout follow ups.

After signing up for each race in Runkeeper, you lace up your sneakers and prepare for your cardio workout. During each run, a god will talk to you through your headphones, providing some story, entertainment, and clues for the puzzle you’ll be able to solve once you finish the race and make it back to your computer. These puzzles are of easy-to-medium difficulty. The solution to the puzzle is the access code to the next race. When all races are over, solve the metapuzzle to get into the afterparty where you have access to discounts and giveaways.

Page reads, "Get to know the gods." 8 illustrations of modern interpretations of the Gods of Olympus are illustrated.

Hivemind Review Scale