After a sneaky attack from an unknown assailant, Mr Q is trapped in a coma. With time running short it’s up to Mrs Q and Lord Hammerschmidt to dive into Mr Q’s mind and find a way to wake him up. But they can’t do it without your help!
Completion Time: 59 minutes
Date Played: 30th December 2020
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Fans of ClueQuest, Puzzle Enthusiasts
ClueQuest are back at it again with their brand of cat-and-mouse *cough* I mean, sheep-and-mouse world domination madness. After their first Print + Cut + Escape series of games ended with an exciting bang, October brought the spooky Halloween Survival Training game (and was one of my favourite play at home games of 2020!). I’d been wondering (and stalking their social media, of course) if after all the success, they’d be turning their hands to a new series. Which is where Prison of Memories comes in!
For me, Prison of Memories Part 1 is a step up in difficulty from their other games. Perhaps I’ve been pacified by the recent games aimed at a child audience, but for some reason I found this one HARD. Really, really hard! True, I did play it as a solo player, on a post-Christmas cheese fuelled afternoon in that period between Christmas and New Years where time has no meaning. This might explained why Prison of Memories was the ClueQuest game I took the longest on, asked for the most clues, and *gasp* skipped a couple of puzzles (I’m sorry!).
The game goes as a lot of their other Print + Cut + Escape does: You receive a download pack and an online login. To begin the game, you should print everything out, separate them into the parts, and hit ‘start’ on the website when you’re ready. From here, the production value only gets better each time! I’m a huge fan of the witty and charming animated intro videos and the deep dive into the ClueQuest lore is always so exciting and fun.
In Prison of Memories, an attack by the nefarious Professor Blacksheep leaves our hero Mr. Q trapped in his own mind and unable to break free. So this time, in a change of environment, you play with Mrs. Q and deep dive into the incredible, wonderful mind of Mr. Q in order to rescue him. Think of it along the lines of a 90s episode of “The Magic School Bus”, but with more mice.
After the initial, “ooh this is a cool idea” you jump into gameplay. Overall, the game is quite intuitive rather than signposted. I think it unlikely a brand new player would play this first (and if you ARE a brand new player wondering if this is a good place to start, I’d recommend going back to Stolen IQ first). For this reason, I believe Prison of Memories relies on a certain amount of comfort with ClueQuest games and understanding what the game expects you to do. But of course if you do get stuck, you have hints, answers and a password box to type your answers and proceed at the end of each level.
Despite the hints and answers there are a couple of puzzles I couldn’t quite get my head around. I blame the Christmas cheese and wine. Well, this game IS about mice, isn’t it? But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun! It’s good to be challenged by some really ‘out of the box’ puzzles, and ClueQuest dishes those types of puzzles up like a breakfast buffet.
I don’t want to give any spoilers because the puzzles are really unlike anything else I’ve played in other games, but you’ll have to rely on pretty much all areas of the brain to crack this one. In each level there’s at least one very cool ‘thing’ to assemble out of paper and in more than one case something you thought was just “pretty art” turns out to be integral to the puzzle. Oh! Let’s not forget the maths know-how. How’s your adding up? I’m kidding, this game is packed with ‘fun’ maths, like pattern recognition or spatial awareness of shapes.
For me, I don’t think I can really mark this one as “finished” as I did skip a couple of puzzles, oops. But I’ve got nothing but absolute admiration for ClueQuest and their experiences, so I still wanted to write about the Prison of Memories because I had a good time playing it. This review can serve as advice, OR if nothing else, it gives you (yes you, the reader!) bragging rights over me when you manage to absolutely smash this game without a single clue.
In summary, it’s a challenge! A fun one, inspired, awesome art, packed with “woah I’ve never seen this puzzle before” moments. I’m excited for Part 2 which I’ll take on with a clear head, not under the influence of a week’s worth of camembert and wine *burp*.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.