Something confusing was delivered to your mailbox. The items in an envelope seem to be from different times…and worlds! Slowly you realize that a mysterious Secret Society is watching you as you try to pass this unusual test. Will you accept a challenge?
Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 11th March 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Fans of mystery, intrigue, secret societies and rich storylines.
Scarlet Envelope is one of those games I’ve seen everywhere. It had a super successful Kickstarter run in 2020 and since then the game has only grown bigger and better. For me, it was only a matter of time before I had a little free time and ordered my first envelope. That ‘free time’ was in March 2021 and a few days later HECK, I AM HOOKED. I literally need to know what happens in the rest of the mystery.
In the present day, you can purchase Scarlet Envelope as a monthly subscription via their website. It ships out on the 15th of the month worldwide from Canada, obviously due to COVID-19 delays if you’re in the UK like me it could take a couple of weeks. Worth it though! The all-female team Lisa and Anna put so much love and care into each Scarlet Envelope, it’s one to watch for the future!
So let’s get into it…
Newspaper: Introduction to the Mysteries is exactly what it says on the packet. It introduces you to the mysteries and therefore is a little bit ‘special’ in comparison to the rest of the series. Each item in the pack represents a different world you’ll explore in another chapter: for example there’s a cabaret leaflet from Chapter 2: Cabaret in Lapin Blanc… There’s a spaceship repair leaflet from Chapter 3: Distress Call from Outer Space. In short, a taster for what to expect from the full series no doubt.
Everything about this game is mysterious and… I love it! The game arrives and at first it seems like an odd assortment of ‘stuff’. Now, normally I’d want more signposting from a game like this. But actually I felt like Scarlet Envelope nailed it, it’s not super tricky to get started and once you get into the flow of this game the whole thing falls into place quickly.
If you’re reading this review and hoping for a signpost, you should read the newspaper first. The clue is essentially in the game’s title! There’s a charming little “say what you see” puzzle to get started. From there, the game picks up at an exciting pace.
I will admit I used quite a few hints. Scarlet Envelope does let you choose your difficulty level at check out and, if I remember correctly, I chose “Hard”… And yeah… It was hard! Not insurmountable, but definitely a “I need a little nudge in the right direction”. Thankfully the clue system was great – broken into “Hint”, “Help” and “Answer” in case you’re really stuck.
Each puzzle is quite unique, giving a flavour of what that chapter will look like. I spotted a couple of word puzzles, a creative folding puzzle, and a very exciting one where you have to cut something out (if you know, you know). Most are tricky to get started with, but each delightful and fitting into the universe they’re set in perfectly.
The object of the gain is also simple: you must find out what the heck is going on! Each separate piece of evidence, each from a far flung location in space and time, will give you a single word when correctly solved. In turn, the words will then reveal another final word, a password to ‘complete’ the game and prompt a fantastical outro video which really kick starts the whole Scarlet Envelope experience.
It’s like one of those videogames where you play through 4+ hours and THEN out of the blue the opening credits role and you’re like “woah okay THIS is where the game begins”. In short, it’s an introductory prologue.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. I had intended on waiting until the weekend but Thursday night arrived and curled up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa I grabbed the first envelope, carefully opened it and got stuck in. Honestly? It was wonderful. Scarlet Envelope recommend their games for 1 – 6 players, but I reckon unless you’re happy to divide and conquer the puzzles, 1-2 players is ideal.
You can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.