Inscryption [Hivemind Review]

Inscryption is a deck-building-style videogame designed by Daniel Mullins Games.

First person view of a player's hand of cards across the table from an imposing oppontent.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on-demand
  • Includes video segments
  • Point-and-click
  • Interactive NPCs

Who is it For?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Fans of deck-building and rogue-like games

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

More specifically, you’ll need a Windows PC with the minimum system requirements outlined on the Steam store.

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: Times will vary. Players familiar with (and skilled at) this style can beat the main story in 12-15 hours, but without prior experience the game will take closer to 30-40 hours. It will take even longer if you seek out all the secrets hidden in the game.

Price: $19.99 on Steam

Booking: play at your leisure

Description

We were trapped in a cabin playing a deck-building card game against a sinister man with terrifying eyes.

This is a story-driven adventure made up progressively challenging battles using powerful cards to beat a variety of opponents. As you play, you learn how to improve your card deck and use different strategies to increase your odds of winning and progressing through the game.

We could solve a handful of point-and-click puzzles that yielded additional power-ups for the card game. Gameplay evolved, but deck-building and card battles were always central to the experience.

Closeup of a player's hand of cards, a bullfrog is the top card.
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Paper Adventures – The Case of Auntie’s Manor [Kids’ Product Review]

Update April 25, 2022: Check the comments to note the improvements since the time of this review.

Mind your manors

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 16, 2022

Team size: 2+; we recommend 1-2 kids plus 1 gamemaster

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: about £12 ($16)

REA Reaction

The Case of Auntie’s Manor was an approachable escape room kit suitable for introducing young puzzlers to the genre. With fairly straightforward puzzles, crisp art, and an evolving story, it kept my kids’ attention and made them feel like competent puzzlers. One puzzle even caught their imagination long after the game itself, leaving a lasting impression of the experience. They only wished for a more interesting setting than “just a house.”

Cover art for The Case of Auntie's Manor with 6 illustrated character cards beside it.

The support for the gamemaster in this kit was a step above other kits that we’ve used. I particularly appreciated the concept of the “Game on a Page” guide, which summarized the plot progression, hints, and result of each puzzle. It was designed to enable me to support the game flow with a single paper. I’d like to see a tool like this in any escape room kit.

The experience was marred somewhat by a series of minor imperfections that accumulated into a general lack of polish. None of these broke the game (especially with a nearby gamemaster), but my detective-minded kids pointed them out enough to warrant noting here. Additional copy editing could have uncovered some of these issues earlier, and it would only take minor design revisions to ameliorate them.

Paper Adventures has a solid escape kit framework that, with a few tweaks, could sustain a welcome series of affordable games for kids. We look forward to seeing how these games evolve!

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Vektek Security Kit Escape Game by Chris Ramsay [Hivemind Review]

Vektek Security Kit Escape Game is a tabletop escape game created by Chris Ramsay.

Cyber Security Kit box, a deck of cards, and a booklet.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Tabletop escape game
  • Includes video segments

Who is it For?

  • Newbies
  • Fans of Chris Ramsay

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

You can play with either a computer or a mobile device. If you’re on mobile, we recommend a tablet instead of a phone. You can get by without scissors, but technically you’re supposed to use them.

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: No game clock. Our reviewers took 30-45 minutes, at most.

Price: $29.99 + shipping

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Your job is to use the VekTek Security Kit to help Chris Ramsay, a magician and YouTuber, track down some kind of nefarious clones aboard a spaceship. To do so, you use a small set of tabletop game pieces and a mobile app. The app presents a series of Chris Ramsay video clips to guide the experience. These clips, along with in-app instructions, present a linear series of tasks, asking you to use physical materials from the box (a booklet and 7 or 8 puzzle information cards). You enter solutions into the app to progress through the game.

Chris Ramsey wearing a backwards baseball cap and a foil suit looking into the camera and reaching for it.
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Create The Escape TV Show [Kids’ Product Review]

Editor’s note: David Spira, co-creator of this website, was involved early on as a production consultant on the pilot episode for Create The Escape. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this review.

Create The Escape is a series on the Peacock network in which professional designers work with kids to plan and build a room for their parents to complete. Each half-hour episode consists of a creation segment and a playthrough segment. The creation segment focuses on set construction and puzzle prototyping, allowing the kids to contribute to the process. The playthrough segment reveals how all of the details come together and then follows the parents as they attempt to escape the room. Some of the kids watch the parents from a Control Room and deliver hints, while the others participate in jump scares and controlled set interactions. If the parents complete the room in under 30 minutes, they win a trophy and a mysterious prize box. Otherwise, the kids win these items.

Create The Escape title card depicts the cast and a couple of child game designers viewed through a keyhole.
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Room Escape Digital – Impact [Hivemind Review]

Impact is a browser-based digital game created by Room Escape Digital, the digital extension of Room Escape Ottawa and Room Escape Boston (reviewed here).

3D rendering of Nebula Station orbiting Jupiter.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Includes video segments
  • Browser-based digital game

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection, mouse

The game highly recommended using a mouse as well as a large screen to play. Some puzzles required paying close attention to tiny details.

The game did not include a conferencing feature for multiple players.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: about 90 minutes (but no timer)

Price: $34.99 CAD per team of 2-4 players

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

We were a ground crew frantically trying to remotely navigate an incapacitated space station out of the path of an asteroid. The game provided us with controls for managing the spacecraft as well as an ongoing text chat with the astronauts stranded aboard the station.

The astronauts guided us to each task necessary to fix the space station. We had to locate the relevant controls, solve the displayed puzzle, and perform necessary interactions, which ranged from entering codes to rapidly clicking different parts of the screen.

Each player had a unique instance of the game, so entering a solution on one computer did not advance the game for other computers. Instead, players who solved the puzzle received a code to share with other players who wanted to skip the puzzle.

You’ll need to have a separate video call running next to the website so you can communicate with your teammates.

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