Lee Ballan: The Pyramid | Review

Welcome to The Pyramid – an online puzzle game for three teams! Each team can be one person, a couple, a family or a group.
You will be between three paths in the pyramid – the red track, the green track and the blue track. In each puzzle, each team will only get a part of the information.

Rating: Good Fun!
Completion Time: 1:25
Date Played: 7th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Everyone, provided there’s at least 3 of you!

Picture the scene: It’s a relaxed Wednesday afternoon after the long Easter weekend and my parents, and 11 y/o brother fancy doing something together on Zoom. Unlike most Easters, we couldn’t meet up – the UK is still in lockdown. But not to worry! “I’ve got this game, The Pyramid!” I say, “It’s been created by a fellow enthusiast and one of my friends and supposed to be really really good! Let’s do it!”

We smashed through the Extreme version of the game in about 1 hour. Our actual time was 1:25 but this was largely down to the three members of my family fighting over who got to be on whose team, we took a couple of breaks for snacks, and at one point a keyboard got broken… But the less said about that part the better! But, for a totally amateur team of 4 from all different walks of life, I reckon we aced it?

Not too difficult and fairly intuitive puzzles whose only rule is “work together”, but let’s get into the details:

The Story

Whilst exploring a desert, you come across a mysterious pyramid. What’s more – there are three entrances: Blue, Green, and Red. So of course, what do you do? You split up and go inside (I say this with a smile because in real life I would never split up and get myself trapped in a pyramid forever, no sir haha).

Your goal is to reach the top of the pyramid – simple enough? Well, there are 10 puzzles standing between you and the top of the puzzle. Each one solved is a ladder to the next floor revealed.

“How do we get back down?” my young sibling asked, when we finished the game. “You don’t.
What did we win?” my dad asks. “This beautiful view of the desert.

The Experience

The Pyramid is played in a platform called Travel Quest (you may recognise it from the Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology puzzle hunt game). The pyramid has 10 ‘missions’ to complete, and correctly inputting a password in the previous one will unlock the next, and so on. The creator also recommends you have a shared drawing app between you – we used the Zoom whiteboard functionality in our call.

There’s a super cool leader board, a chat function, and a tab for ‘missions’ in case you get lost in the game and need to ground yourself. I also think the web application is optimised for mobile devices, although it’s not recommended in this game!

The central premise of the Pyramid is that each player can only see 1/3 of the information. We were not allowed to share our screen with one another but, unless prompted, we could use anything else at our disposal to communicate the information – talk, draw on the screen, mime, shout at each other (oh yeah there was quite a bit of that). So each puzzle opens onto some text and an image, and it’s up to you to figure out what the heck to do.

The Puzzles

As I say, we found the puzzles fairly straightforward and intuitive, taking it in turns at each step to explain what we can see. Players can expect to encounter a really interesting range of puzzles (even if at first glance some puzzles look like they might be solved in the same way). There’s a puzzle that involves sound, there’s puzzles which require you to overlay the information as if in one picture together, there’s puzzles where you’ll need to mime your way out of situations, and visual puzzles that require creatively trying to describe what you see.

Dad: “I can see bricks”
Mum: “What colour?”
Dad: “Grey and grey and this one is grey too”
Brother: *screams*
Me: *screams*

If I remember correctly, we used hints on just one puzzle which was arguably the hardest of the lot. Using hints will cost you points – and we lost dangerously a lot of points on this one puzzle as we asked for hints only to be given information we already knew. *shakes fist at multi-step puzzles*. But in the end, once we got to the right hint we very quickly understood what was to be done.

The puzzles were really fun though, and the whole game reminded me a little bit of Escape from the Two Base Stations, but the best part – this is for THREE players. More players = more fun. In particular I enjoyed puzzles where I needed to mime or draw something on the screen.

Overall

Overall, I loved this! It was a little rough around the edges, as you might expect a puzzle game from an individual rather than a huge company – but this also meant it was PACKED with love. The creator, Lee Ballan, is a puzzle wizard and playing his experience was an absolute joy. I’m particularly pleased I invited my family rather than the usual puzzle people I play with, as they provided a fresh perspective on puzzles I may not have otherwise realised… And, if Lee ever comes up with another game, this family will be first in line to play it!

The Pyramid can be booked for $48 USD + per team over on Travel and Quest’s website.

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