The Detective Society – The Professor’s Missing Potion [Review]

Kids on the Case

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 18, 2021

Team size: We recommend 1-3 kids plus an adult

Duration: 45-60 minutes

Price: £8.99

REA Reaction

Within the genre of puzzling games for kids, The Professor’s Missing Potion stands out as a well designed, satisfying experience that did many things well for its audience. It offered an introduction to some common puzzle types within a cartoonishly immersive plot and environment. It used smart design choices to make the gameplay manageable for kids while still engaging them in delightful and authentic ways. Its fantastical plot, variety of interactions, and subtle humor connected well with my kids’ imaginations, effectively convincing them that they might actually be doing something real.

A man in a white lab coat with goggles, and a green background.

My main critique regards some minor quality control issues that detracted from the experience. First, no orientation materials were included in the downloaded files. This undermined my ability to set expectations and to make sure we were referring to the print materials as intended. This unease dissipated as the game progressed, but the scarcity of information between purchasing and beginning the game was a gap in the customer journey that could easily be bridged to give players (or their adult sidekick) more confidence. Also, the final puzzle seemed to have an error that forced us to guess rather than solve, resulting in anticlimactic feelings about the conclusion.

Ultimately, though, The Professor’s Missing Potion was a solidly entertaining kids’ activity that literally evoked childlike wonder. We’re glad we played and hope The Detective Society makes more games for this audience.

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Puzzling Pursuits – Mission: ElfPossible [Hivemind Review]

Mission: ElfPossible is a Christmas-themed text adventure game created by Puzzling Pursuits.

Elf Enterprises interface set against a snowy forest.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Text adventure

Who is it For?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Families with older kids

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: about 60 minutes… more if you’re playing as a family with kids

Price: $17.95 per group

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

We joined a band of skillful elves to navigate a heavily guarded North Pole and rescue Santa from his evil brother. To complete this mission, we had to select which elf to help us with each new scenario we encountered based on their unique skill sets. After choosing the correct elf, we then solved a puzzle to proceed to the next situation. We entered solutions in a text field and received helpful and/ or chiding responses for incorrect solutions.

Nordo – The Interrogation of Alice [Review]

“Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 6, 2021

Team size: We recommend 2

Duration: 1-2 hours

Price: $117 plus shipping

REA Reaction

If you’re a Through the Looking Glass fan, a collector of berry curds, or a devotee of absurd theater, Nordo’s The Interrogation of Alice may be for you. From the post-purchase email through the very end of the video credits, it’s clear that the creators of this game invested extraordinary attention to the details of its source material. They infused every aspect of…well…everything with references to the book. If I’d played a game like this about one of my personal obsessions, I would absolutely die. In a good way.

A box filled with smaller red and black boxes that are labeled, "eat me," "drink me," & "evidence."

If you’re an average escape room enthusiast who prioritizes puzzling and/or has just a passing knowledge of Alice lore, this is a much harder sell at $117. Nordo’s background and strengths lie in immersive theater, so the details woven throughout the videos, puzzles, and food were well executed and delightful. However, we found the story to be disorienting in a way that, while honoring the nonsense of its source material, left us constantly uneasy that we were missing something. Ultimately, that confusion was irrelevant because the handful of simple puzzles didn’t hinge on clues from the videos, and the characters seemed to solve the overall mystery on their own. This was both a relief and a disappointment that left us feeling like befuddled observers rather than useful participants. Fortunately, there were some exquisite berry curd and biscuits to soothe our feelings.

Overall, this concept has enormous potential for filling a gap in the world’s offerings for a premium date night at home. With a more intelligible script and a tighter interrelationship between the puzzles and performances, there would be a huge opportunity to transform an experience like this from a collection of impressive details into a more thorough engagement of the audience. This was a respectable effort in that direction, but at the price point, it needed to be exceptional.

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Exit the Game – Kidnapped in Fortune City [Hivemind Review]

Kidnapped in Fortune City is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Looking for holiday gifts? Find Kidnapped in Fortune City and other great games in the Room Escape Artist Holiday Gift Guide – 2021.

Exit: Kidnapped in Fortune City box depicts the old west. A sheriff's badge laying on the ground.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: pen & paper

No scissors were needed, which is unusual for this series.

It is helpful to take notes in this game, as you collect information from the locations and characters.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 1.5-2 hours

Price: about $15

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

The sheriff of Fortune City disappeared after a gold robbery, and it was our job to search the town, interview witnesses, solve the crime, and find the sheriff. We had more materials to help us than in other Exit: The Game installments: a map of the city, the sheriff’s notebook, clue cards, a set of “strange items,” several location pamphlets to explore one at a time, and a decoder wheel for entering the solutions to puzzles. Because this was a higher difficulty game, the puzzles were not presented linearly, and we had to determine what game pieces to use for each puzzle. As in all Exit: The Game installments, we had to use game pieces in unexpected ways, but there was not as much destruction in this game as in others.

Game contents include a number of old west themed items.
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Afternoon Apps Inc. – ARia’s Legacy [Hivemind Review]

ARia’s Legacy is an augmented reality app game created by Afternoon Apps Inc.

A stone slap rendered in augmented reality. In real life, a very cute dog peers from beyond it.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Augmented reality experience

Required Equipment: mobile device

Your preference for phone versus tablet probably depends on the size of your phone, and your tolerance for holding a tablet in the air.

Recommended Team Size: 1, or maybe 2

Play Time: 20 minutes

Price: free for the Prologue (3 episodes), $3.99 for Chapter 1 (also 3 episodes)

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

In this game you explore rooms in a mansion through the magic of augmented reality (AR). At the beginning of each room, or “episode,” you calibrate the game’s world within your own space by aligning a rough sketch of the room with what the tablet detects of your space from its camera. The game uses this information to display its objects and set pieces within your space. To have the images in the game rendered correctly, you need a flat open area that is well-lit.

You navigate this world by physically moving around your own room, pointing the tablet towards the parts you want to explore, and tapping on objects to interact with them. Gameplay involves searching, collecting objects, finding clues, and solving puzzles.

You play this on a single device, so the number of players is limited by how many people care to use the same device at one time. With a tablet, you might be able to play as a duo.

An assortment of digging tools rendered in augmented reality.