Nightjar Review: An anxious mind, struggling to sleep, listens to the crepuscular call of birds as their insomnia continues to plague them. Will this innocuous jar filled with secrets be the key to escaping their torment?
Date Played: February 2022 Time Taken: ~40 minutes Number of Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Nightjar is my personal holy grail of the escape room-in-a-box world and that makes it incredibly tricky to write a review for it. My brain is saying “lets be analytical and explain to our dear readers what the game is all about” and my heart is screaming in excitement that I actually own a copy sitting on my desk in pride of place. I imagine if I ever achieve my dream of getting hold of Tale of Ord (not likely) it’ll be much the same way.
Enigmailed’s Nightjar – A Rare Puzzle Game
Nightjar is a small boxed puzzle game, possibly the world’s smallest, as it fits entirely into a small jar around 10x10x10cm. There were only around ~55 copies ever made. The first batch was a part of the annual puzzle game Secret Santa group, where game designers from all around the world are tasked with creating a mystery game for another recipient around the world. Nightjar became something of a cult project thanks to a podcast series the game’s creator, Step of Enigmailed, made to document the game design process. The game was available as a bonus, extremely limited add-on in follow-up Kickstarter, Pouroboros. The game then later cropped up in a charity auction, selling for £110. Then, for a final time 50 or so extra copies were released mysteriously in a ‘blind game drop’ under the name EASTWOOD on April 1st, 2022. Nobody knew that Nightjar would be one of the two games released (the other is ‘Mangetout’ which I sadly haven’t played but definitely will and review soon. Shout out to my chaotic life for making it as yet impossible). Despite the hush-hush around what the games would be, the mystery drop release sold out very quickly. There goes the final batch of Nightjar… For now! A moment’s silence please.
So, that’s a long roundabout way of saying it’s a rare game and for me, a very very coveted one. If my apartment was on fire, I’d run past all my photo albums and holiday trinkets and make sure Nightjar got out safely first. As far as I’m aware, the creator has plans to make just a few more copies which will be released in similarly mysterious fashion. But for the most part, Enigmailed have moved on to other (very exciting) projects.
The second thing to note about Nightjar that adds to it’s rarity is that it is single-play. Almost every component in the game is destroyed, making it impossible to replay. Believe me, I tried to be extra careful. There’s also no reset pack. So of those ~55 copies ever made. Let’s say 90% of them were played. Which leaves… A very small number of this game out in the wild. Oof, my heart aches! I haven’t yet seen any of these games go up for sale, but I’ve no doubt whichever seller does will fetch a high price. But don’t do that. Keep it. Putting all the rarity and speculation aside, Nightjar was a genuinely very fun game and if anyone has a copy I’d encourage them to play it, enjoy it, and let it live on in your memory. Besides, you’ll have the jar to keep as a memento, like I have.
So, the history of Nightjar out of the way… Tell me about the game!
From Dusk to Dawn
If you didn’t know Nightjar was a puzzle game, you’d never be able to tell.
Your first impressions would be “oh, this is a jar of marmite”.
Then you’d realise something was up, you’d open it, and think “oh, this is a jar of sleep-aid things”.
Then you’d move on with your life and never realise just how brilliant the combination of objects hidden within the jar are. Yes, yes, they are just sleep aid things. But in true Enigmailed fashion there’s a riddle, inside an enigma, wrapped in a mystery locked inside. I won’t give any spoilers as to exactly what can be found inside except to say it’s a small medley of things you might turn to if you were having difficulty sleeping. You might dim the lights and pour yourself a cup of tea, you might try to block out the world outside, and you might use some nice smells to help you drift off. You might do anyway. Might… Might… Might.
In terms of quality, Nightjar is handmade in very small batches, so there’s a lot of attention to detail and care gone into the game. There’s a mix of real-life objects modified to suit the puzzle game, and further materials which are handmade or printed from scratch.
Falling Asleep is the Yeast of Your Problems…
The gameplay of the game is such that you can start with any object inside the jar and each object will lead to the next, and the next, and so on. It’s a puzzle loop that, when solved correctly, should bring you full circle over the course of 30 – 60 minutes.
It’s a quiet, introspective game best played in a team of 1. Probably also best played in the evening before drifting off to sleep yourself. But that’s not to say the puzzles were easy. Far from it, in fact! I always seem to find Enigmailed puzzle games on the harder side. I don’t know if that’s just me, or if they genuinely are. Cut to several years worth of playing them and I finally think I’m beginning to understand what type of answers the puzzles are looking for – and yet I still spent a good amount of time puzzling and wracking my brain over a few. At the time of writing there wasn’t a clue system (this may have changed), but Step was on hand to offer a little nudge if I needed it.
Above anything else, from the moment I opened up the jar to the very final puzzle I solved, Nightjar captured my imagination. It’s ability to set such a powerful theme, tell such a lovely story, and engross me with some brilliant fun puzzles with such a tiny number of materials squeezed into such a small jar is second to none. Yes, I had to use a magnifying glass a few times, but it was well worth it.
Normally at this time in a review I’d talk about who we recommend this game for and where it can be purchased, but with Nightjar that’s a little tricky. Firstly, I’d recommend it for everyone. Secondly, if you want a copy, you’ll have to try to convince Step to make you one, or scour the various Facebook forums for anyone selling theirs. Good luck in your quest, it’s well worth the reward at the end.
If you’re interested in getting into Game Design, Nightjar and it’s associated podcast are a 101 on fantastic game design, thinking outside the box, and creating puzzles out of unexpected everyday objects. As a game designer myself, if I ever create a game that is 1/10th as good as Nightjar, then I’ll consider my life a success. A round of applause for Step and Enigmailed. But even if you don’t play Nightjar, give the podcast a listen and subscribe to Enigmailed’s newsletter anyway. They’re both brilliant and will both give an insight into the weird and wonderful mind of the creators of this game.
This is paper guaranteed to be recycled – as a seasonal puzzle game! What can you do for the loved one in your life who likes solving problems, adores a challenge, or even thinks they are the smartest in the room?
Completion Time: 1 – 2 hours Date Played: November 2022 Party Size: 1 Difficulty: Moderate
Well, my first present is wrapped and waiting to be placed under the Christmas Tree. You know what that means? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know Enigmailed is one of my favourite places for puzzles. From their individual games, wacky Kickstarter campaigns, to consistently fantastic Chocolateral series (puzzles, and chocolate? Um, yes please!). So, when I placed a large order before Christmas, I was surprised to find an extra goodie arrived in the package: A few sheets of wrapping paper.
In typical Enigmailed fashion, this is not ordinary wrapping paper. This wrapping paper is quite literally packed with puzzles. No, no, I don’t think you understand. Literally. Packed.
But with such excellent wrapping paper, I had to wrap equally excellent gifts up in it. So I suppose all those Chocolateral bars I’d just bought should probably now be sent off to friends instead of eating them all myself like a chocolate fiend… Ahh well!
Ho ho hope I can solve all these…
The first thing that struck me with each sheet of wrapping paper is how well the puzzles are laid out. Most wrapping papers print little pictures of snowmen or Christmas trees. This wrapping paper does as well, but hidden within each of those illustrations… A puzzle!
Some of the puzzles are spread out over multiple images hidden around and others are a little more self contained. For such a compact, A2 sheet of wrapping paper, there’s a lot of puzzle for your money. In fact, there are 12 puzzles to solve. They are:
The Hexagon Jigsaw
The Sphere String
The Buried Treasure
The Net Maze
The Tree Gift
The Michael Bauble
The Star Crossed
The Holly Wood
Once solved, each of these puzzles gives a single word answer: A festive word, for a festive wrapping paper.
In terms of difficulty… Listen, I always find Enigmailed games err on the harder side. However, this wrapping paper broke that rule slightly in that I found each individual puzzle fairly straightforward to crack. A few easy wins, and a few which took longer to think through. I didn’t do them all in one go, but I did solve most of them solo – all in all, maybe an hour’s worth of puzzling? Maybe a little longer? It’s a ‘game’ best played dipping in and out of and tackling when you need a break from eating Mince Pies and playing Christmas music.
My favourite of the puzzles was probably “Buried Treasure” or “Poppers”, which were functionally similar to solve – and the two I attempted first! Several others ramp up in difficulty, but as you progress you’ll begin to see patterns and understand how the game flows.
Reuse & Regift this Puzzle Wrapping Paper
The second thing I was struck by is what good quality the wrapping paper is! It arrives neatly folded in a protective sleeve, and each sheet is A2 in size and 115gsm silk paper in quality. The colours are bright and poppy – even more so than I’ve been able to capture in these photos, making it a perfect paper to use with yellow or black ribbon. The first gift I tried to wrap with it (a large board game) the paper came in a little too small. I could have used two sheets, but then I pivoted to something more appropriately sized so I could use the one sheet per gift.
The wrapping paper comes in sheets say, rather than a whole roll, as you’ll need to use the entire sheet to solve the puzzles – some details might be hidden elsewhere on the sheet, so if you cut a sheet in half you risk it becoming unusable. For that reason, pick a gift that uses one sheet in it’s entirety for the best puzzling effect for your recipient!
Then of course, the best thing about this? It’s totally reusable. The paper is such good quality it’s unlikely it’ll tear between gifts, and after wrapping, it folds back down into a neat stack to be popped in a cupboard and used again next year. Whilst I’m giving my sheets away this year, wrapping up a set of lovely puzzley presents for friends… I’m quietly hoping those friends will save the paper and wrap their own gifts up in it next year too. Perhaps the sheets will make their way back to me by this time next year, who knows.
Given the Christmas theme of the puzzles, this wrapping paper is only really good for Christmas – but it’s incredibly good value. For at least one, if not two hours worth of puzzling fun for yourself and for your lucky recipient, it’s well worth elevating a fairly normal gift into something extraordinary. With your order, you receive 3 sheets of high quality, brilliantly reusable A2 wrapping paper. Christmas mornings won’t quite be the same again, not least of all because I’ll be instating the rule “all puzzles must be solved before you can open your gift”. So better get puzzling before you hit the Bucks Fizz this year.
All in all, I am so excited to give gifts wrapped up in this wrapping paper as gifts. In fact, I’m more excited for them to see the wrapping paper than unwrap what is inside. No wrapping paper has ever made me feel that way about gift giving, and honestly? I think this wrapping paper will be a regular feature of my gift giving for years to come.
I’d recommend buying the wrapping paper as part of the Chocmas Lucky Dip bundle presently priced at £19.50. In this bundle, you get:
Three sheets of wrapping paper in a protective sleeve
A puzzle-wrapped chocolate bar through the post every month? An idyllic village, ravaged with nefarious mysteries? The chance to vote for future flavours and storylines?
It’s a world’s first, people!
Have you ever been sitting there, eating a bar of chocolate, wishing that your experience was a bit more puzzley? Are you like me and want to include puzzles into all aspects of your life… Especially chocolate consumption? Are you slightly more normal and just want to get a cool gift for that puzzle person in your life? Enigmailed have the answer to all these questions.
Okay so those examples are a little extreme, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that British company Enigmailed have been hard at work these past months creating several new experiences, including my very favourite of which: Chocolateral Bars. Put simply, chocolate bars which contain brilliant little puzzles on the packaging!
At the moment, they have the following chocolate bars on offer:
Both chocolate bars have a mystery to solve – a kind of murder mystery come detective drama. Your job in both is to read the clues and discover a WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW the curious crime was committed. As one of my friends pointed out when I gifted them a bar, “I’m not sure eating chocolate called Fatal Experimint is a good idea”, but I can guarantee, several bars of chocolate later, that they are not poisonous. Just creatively named!
Neither mystery is going to take you any longer than the amount of time it takes to eat the chocolate bar, that’s for sure. But I think that’s part of the beauty of it, making this a fantastic gift for just about anyone in your life – puzzlers and non-puzzlers alike. It’s like playing a sudoku in the morning paper over your cuppa.
Flavour: Honeycomb Milk Completion Time: 10 minutes Date Played: 11th July 2021 Party Size: 1
Both taste and puzzle-wise, Honeycomb Sting was my favourite of the two, but that’s mostly personal preferences as I don’t really like mint all that much. In Honeycomb Sting, you’re introduced to the setting of a palace with a world famous beehive kept on the grounds – but wait, somebody has been stealing all the honey! Eek!
Thankfully, the culprit has left behind clues on the chocolate wrapper. From lightly highlighted letters to curious strings of digits, each separate puzzle points towards a different piece of information, such as the identify of the thief, or where they’ve hidden the honey.
The only question remains whether you’ll catch them before you finish the bar!
Flavour: Mint Dark Completion Time: 15 minutes Date Played: 11th July 2021 Party Size: 1
The harder of the two, Fatal Experimint adds a little extra tension to the game – Dr. Spears, the dentist has been poisoned! But if you can successfully solve the game, you’ll be able to find an antidote to save his life. In this mini mystery, you’re looking to make an arrest, and fast!
The puzzles differ a lot between the two experiences, with Fatal Experimint utilising more numerical puzzles, and a couple of well known beloved ciphers with an Enigmailed twist. Since I played (and ate) this one second, the chocolate might be getting to my head and making it seem tricker, but I’d definitely rate this one as the more challenging of the two.
Flavour: Eton Mess Completion Time: 15 minutes Date Played: 19th September 2021 Party Size: 1
This time, a priceless artefact believed to be the Sword in the Stone has been stolen! Once again it’s your job to figure out who thief is, why it was stolen, where it was last seen and what it is being disguised as. As with the other chocolate bars, there’s also a (very tricky) bonus puzzle, for those who want to go the extra mile: How many millions the sword is insured for!
By the time you’ve played the first two, you’ll get the gist of it by now – all over the packaging many small puzzles are hidden. In Excalibar’s Sword you’ll be looking for any letters that seem out of place, ciphers, and hints in plain sight… Among other things!
Of all the flavours (so far) Eton Mess absolutely has to be my favourite. I’m a huge fan of white chocolate and strawberry, so it’s a double thumbs up from me!
Flavour: Toffee Apple Milk Chocolate Completion Time: 20 minutes Date Played: 30th October 2021 Party Size: 1
This time, there’s mischief afoot at the Longstocking Orchard. Apple wielding ghosts? Or perhaps just a Halloween prank! It’s the player’s role to find out who is disguising themselves as a ghost, how they’re evading security, what their motive is and where they are hiding out.
As a Halloween special, it’s delightful! Of course, Toffear Apple is part of the Chocolateral subscription, but as someone who likes to give Halloween gifts this makes it the perfect treat to give out to guests and adult trick or treaters.
But of course, as with all Chocolateral bars, the puzzles are not particularly easy. No sir. I’m very well acquainted with Enigmailed’s hints page by now. But, since you’re always looking for a word (or a few words), players can expect a bounty of exactly that: word based puzzles! In Toffear Apple in particular I enjoyed turning of the bar over and over on the look out for ghosts, apples, and making the words out of the peculiar things on the paper. Spooky fun, and just what I needed to kick off a Halloween celebration!
Flavour: Chilli Dark Chocolate Completion time: approx 30 mins Date Played: 21st November 2021 Party Size: 2
In this edition of Chocolateral, we’re getting festive! But don’t expect tidings of comfort and joy…at least not straight away. There is something afoot, as someone has snatched all of the snacks which had been left out for Santa and his helpers! As usual, it is up to you to peruse the clues hidden in the packaging to solve the seasonal mystery, and there is plenty to sink your teeth into (geddit?!). Yes, not only have you got to figure out who left their footprints in the snow, when they struck, what they’re doing with their bounty of festive treats and how they managed to evade being caught- you’ve also got the chance to go the extra mile (all the way to the north pole maybe?) to figure out which popstar paid for them in the first place!
Picture this: a chilly but clear Sunday afternoon in the lead up to Christmas, eating delicious chocolate, sipping on festive spiced punch and solving puzzles! What better way to get cosy and in the spirit for the next month’s worth of festivities (oh yes, we looove Christmas!). We really enjoyed the level of detail Enigmailed have gone into- the classic Christmassy red, green and white colour scheme; the seasonal imagery of crackers, santas and presents; and the puns- oh how we enjoy a good pun at the best of times, let alone when Christmas is involved. The puzzles are cleverly interspersed into the packaging as usual, which if you’ve played before you will have come to be quite familiar with. We found some of the puzzles quite quick to solve and others took a bit more thought, which we thought would make this a great little activity to do over Christmastime with the whole family- there’s enough to go around in terms of both puzzles and of course CHOCOLATE (if you don’t mind sharing!)
The chilli dark chocolate flavour of the chocolate was lovely; the chilli wasn’t overpowering but provided a nice warming which felt perfect for a Christmassy bar. And we loved the fact that as a dark chocolate bar this month, it is suitable for vegans, so everyone can get on the chocolatey puzzle solving bandwagon, just in time for Christmas! Seasons Eatings was a perfect festive puzzley treat for the lead up to the big day itself!
Flavour: Plain Milk Chocolate Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 6th February 2022 Party Size: 2
What’s the classic Valentine’s Day gift? Chocolate! But, what’s the perfect VDay gift for your escape enthusiast Valentine? Puzzle Chocolate! In this edition of Chocolateral, trouble is afoot at the village Jewellers, Emerald Aisle (yes, we loved that pun) as someone has robbed all their rings, depriving many happy couples of their VDay engagement plans!
While nibbling on our non-engagement related chocolatey Valentine’s treat, we had to figure out the classic W’s- Who, What, Where and Why, oh why, were the rings targeted?! Each time we play we are amazed by Enigmailed’s ability to squeeze in new and different types of puzzle into such a small space and following a consistent format. We enjoyed the variety of puzzles offered and found that each of us had ones that just seemed to click with us instantly. The matter of Why did stump us for a while and we decided to go for a quick look at their handy hint page to help us out with this one and work the puzzle backwards, but we got there in the end! We were also very pleased with ourselves as we also managed to solve the bonus puzzle to find out the name of the owner of the jewellers.
With Valentine Brawl, as with all the Chocolateral bars, we love the feeling that the chocolate is a reward for doing a good job puzzling and, of course, puns-a-plenty is always a bonus to enhance the puzzle solving fun further!
Whether you’re cupid reincarnate, or not so much of a fan of the mushy lovey dovey stuff, Valentine Brawl is a fun option to celebrate or take your mind off the season of love!
Simply the Zest!
Flavour: White Chocolate Lemon Meringue Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 12th April 2022 Party Size: 2
Dun, dun, dun! There’s been a murder, but who dunnit?! It’s the classic soap, a mysterious murder, a woman found dead in her high-rise apartment, the suspicious roast dinner… Hold on, a roast dinner!? We are glad that this did not feature in the chocolate bar flavouring.
Our of all of the bars in this subscription, this one was the most ‘story based’ of the Chocolateral series we have played so far, asking you to find out who has committed the crime, as well as tasking you with identifying those pesky red herrings (ahh yes, enthusiasts will recognise the struggles of red herrings as well!)
We got stuck into this bar quickly (the puzzles we mean…of course…) and found ourselves with 4 of the 5 puzzles solved relatively quickly. They were all logical and had strong sign-posting, something which always impresses us as Enigmailed managed to squeeze this so much onto such a small chocolate bar wrapper!
The final, trickier puzzles left us scratching our heads though. We could not figure out the WHEN of our murder mystery. In this case, finding out the ‘when’ was the the bonus puzzle of this chocolate bar, so the answer is not on the website. So, dear readers, if anyone knows the WHEN – please do get in touch and let us know! We promise we will pay you in chocolate (if there is any left…)
All in all, another great entry into the Chocolateral series, and we cannot wait to see what fantastical flavours and puzzles the creator dreams up next.
Flavour: Banoffee Milk Chocolate Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 4th April 2022 Party Size: 2
So, we definitely should have played this on April Fool’s Day – we missed a trick there! But alas, we sat down to see whether we would be made fools of, or whether we could work out who was clowning around trying to set up poor Uncle Fumble? We are currently playing the month-long puzzle offered by Enigmailed – also named “Fool’s Errand” – so it was felt apt to tackle this game to check our puzzling skills were ready to challenge the enigmatic “Leaderboard”! Also, after playing one of the more recent games, we realised we could have used our chocolate bar to complete one of the challenges…double Fool’s Errand (can we have a shout out on the leader board if we manage to link the puzzles?!)
We found this bar one of the more challenging ones. We couldn’t seem to click with the puzzles in the same way as some of the others. However, we think this may be a good way to showcase how different each of the bars manage to be. Some we find we can solve in ten minutes, others we keep coming back to over a series of days to see if we can finally get that a-ha moment (and steal a piece of chocolate as a reward hehe). In this way, you can savour the puzzles in the same way you can savour the chocolate (well, if you want to…). There was one stand out puzzle on this bar though that we did click with (after the hype around a particular word based game which we play religiously every day) – it must be all that practice. It was a really clever way of translating the puzzle concept onto paper, and we appreciated the effort that had been made to showcase a new puzzle type.
If you’ve not checked out the month long puzzle that Enigmailed are running, definitely pop onto their website! It’s a great way to get your puzzling in, whilst providing that competitive edge so many of us puzzlers enjoy. You can find lots of fun challenges, and plenty of ways to work up an appetite (although who needs to work up anything to eat a delicious banoffee flavoured treat – banana, toffee, chocolate…it’s a dream combo!).
Flavour: Creme Caramel Milk Chocolate Completion time: approx 20 mins Date Played: 7th May 2022 Party Size: 2
Uh oh! There’s been a robbery! Lizzy (very aptly named) has had her most fabulous lizards stolen, and it is up to you to find out the WHO, the WHEN, and the WHY. Oh, and to add to the mix, one of the lizards suffers from a skin condition, and you need to figure out which one so you can get the lotion to them ASAP (an excellent way of adding a bit of pressure). We went for a pic of our lovely pet here (any excuse to put in a pic of Tilly – she was not helpful in solving Lizzy’s predicament).
As we play more of Engimailed’s wonderful Chocolateral series, we are beginning to learn a bit about the different puzzling styles featured on the bars. We are getting better at seeing patterns, and playing these games regularly is definitely helping to give our puzzling skills ticking over. However, that definitely does not mean that we are now finding these easy – there was one puzzle in particular on this game that we found especially challenging – and brought a wonderful A-HA moment when we finally solved it. We clicked with this bar better than the previous one and managed to get through all the puzzles without looking for a hint (although, when we did go to check the answers, we got stumped trying to find those (wink wink!)).
We were stoked to also manage to solve the extra challenge of finding out HOW MANY lizards were taken. It would be creme-inal not to mention the excellent pun use in this bar. We are so here for some fun word-play and always enjoy Enigmailed’s humorous blurbs and storylines.
We shared this chocolate bar with Ash’s mum to spread the love (and also because we had recently ordered a huge amount of reduced Easter chocolate oops). We’ve had some excellent feedback from her on the taste “very creamy, very caramel, perfect for a sweet tooth” so I think we may have another Enigmailed fan on our hands! These bars would certainly make such a good gift for anyone you know who likes chocolate (and who doesn’t?!), and enjoys a bit of puzzling.
Tilly Enjoying Crime Caramel Chocolateral
Flavour: Lime and Chilli Dark Chocolate Completion time: approx 30 mins Date Played: 25th June 2022 Party Size: 4
With this edition of Chocolateral, we had been tasked with solving a crime from a slightly different perspective… For once we know WHO the criminals are and we know WHAT they’ve done.
‘So… why are you here?’ I hear you ask. Well this time we’re on the case to work out a few of the finer details of the case. Two lovers on the run but caught at the first hurdle. But can we help track down the clues to work out what both the lovers’ jobs were, where they were hoping to escape to, what caused the police to get on their trail, what crucial mistake they made and last, but by no means least, what was their attempted getaway vehicle? Think Bonnie & Clyde (but with truffles)
Given that we had all that to work out, we cracked on with nibbling away at the chocolate and the clues. We enjoyed the variety of puzzles yet again within this edition, particularly the cryptic combination of flags with what appeared to be binary code. Once again, Chocolateral gets you to think outside the chocolate box, with a few helpful nudges tucked away under the opening flaps to get you onto the right tracks. The mix of puzzles were perfect for the group of us with Alice’s parents solving it, as there was something that everyone excelled at, and all of us got the ‘A-HA’ moment for at least one puzzle each, which felt like a very fair share This was our first bar in a while which we didn’t need to check any hints for, so we were very proud of ourselves for clicking with this one so well.
And the flavour? Slightly warming, but not too spicy. A great mix of the fresh lime and warming chilli, which pairs perfectly with the richness of dark chocolate. As a dark bar, it’s also dairy-free so perfect for vegans and those less tolerant to the lactose. All in all a great bar once again!
Sea No Evil
Flavour: Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Completion Time: 30 minutes Date Played: 3rd December 2022 Party Size: 1
As with all Chocolateral bars, there’s drama and mystery afoot. This time, the peculiar case of a cage left overnight at the zoo and in it’s wake, not one but three missing monkeys. My mission was simple: Find the monkeys, find their stash of bananas, and find the name of the staff member who forgot to lock their cage the night before.
In typical Enigmailed fashion, I’d have my work cut out, and in typical me-fashion, I refused to let myself eat the chocolate until I’d cracked the codes. With my “zoo hat” on, it was time to get down to business. No time for monkeying around!
With Sea No Evil, the best tactic is to examine the bar front to back. Take stock of what you see and wait for the patterns to emerge. There are around four self-contained puzzles total. There’s also (I believe) a secret 5th puzzle which I didn’t solve. Within this boundary, plenty to discover. In particular there was one symbol-based puzzle that I definitely overthought, and so having an extra pair of eyes on hand in my case proved useful. I turned to my partner and said “what do you think?“, to which they spotted the solution immediately. It just goes to show… Chocolate is best shared!
Once past the symbol puzzle, the others varied in difficulty from “Got it!“, to “I know what this is and how to solve it I just need to do it“, to “Lets just have a cheeky clue or two“.
Finally, the flavour? Absolutely delicious! Sea salt is a personal favourite of mine and Enigmailed did not disappoint. It’s perfectly salty (perhaps slightly saltier than the average ‘sea salt milk chocolate’), but for fans of the flavour the balance between sweet and savoury beautifully hit the spot. I’ll be back to reorder this specific Chocolateral flavour in a heart-beat.
Fight for Your White
Flavour: White Chocolate Completion Time: 30 minutes Date Played: 3rd December 2022 Party Size: 1
What do you get when you cross delicious chocolates, tricky puzzles, with a cow-theme? A Chocolateral bar that’s absolutely packed with a-moo-sing cow puns!
Now, white chocolate isn’t usually my thing but I decided to pair it into a puzzling morning as I also took on my very favourite flavour: Sea Salt Milk Chocolate! All in all, a successful time cracking the codes of both games in one sitting. After successfully finding the monkeys, I turned my sights to another animal: The Cow. This time, an illegal rave took place in the old dairy barn in town. My mission was simple: Find out who organised it, what music they were playing, how did they keep an eye on the path, and where tickets were being sold.
On balance, Fight for your White was probably a slight bit harder than Sea No Evil, but they’re otherwise not totally comparable. Different puzzles, different styles, different taste of course. But in the same way as it’s salty counterpart, I relied on a second pair of eyes to crack some of the trickier codes here. Now, my regular Player 2 doesn’t usually engage with puzzle solving, he’s the bemused witness to the endless puzzle packages I receive in the post. However with Chocolateral comes the promise of chocolate once I correctly solve it – so he’s eager to hop in when I need help. More help means a larger share of the bar, right?
So puzzles aside, onto the taste. Again, perfection. The sustainably sourced cocoa is produced in Cornwall, so it hasn’t travelled far from my plate and retains all it’s delicious creaminess – fitting, for a bar of chocolate about cows!
About the Chocolate
The chocolate manufacturer is Kernow Chocolate, created and hand-packed in Cornwall, UK. If you need any evidence of all the love and care gone into creating this chocolate, just look at the list of ingredients! I’ve never seen a shorter ingredient list in my life – it’s all totally natural, not a chemical in sight.
Even without the puzzles, I already find myself browsing the manufacturer’s website to see what else they sell. It was that tasty, and I feel great about supporting a local UK business.
You can purchase a Chocolateral Bar over on Enigmailed’s website here, and also use the promocode MAIL10 for 10% off an order of Undeliverable!
TheLondon Pouroboros takes in some of the very best of these; each soaked in history, and somewhere we promise you will form incredibly happy memories. It being London, we also expect you will discover a live band along the way too at some point. This really will be like taking a pub tour of London with a local, just without the kebab at the end of the night.
Time Taken: ~1 hour + Played On: 6th November 2021
The ouroboros or uroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail… Therefore the Pouroboros game, set in London pubs, must be about drinking a never ending, infinite amount of beer, right? Well I need no excuse!
Ahead of the Kickstarter Pouroborus campaign run by Enigmailed, the creative genius behind Undeliverable and Chocolateral, we were sent a copy of the Pouroborus ‘Deluxe Coaster’. This is an add-on to the key campaign, but fairly representative of what the finished product will look like. That said, as with any early access copy please take our review with a pinch of salt, as the final product may be slightly different.
In this edition we’re playing, the answers are not pubs but famous iconic UK landmarks. That said, we couldn’t resist actually playing the games in pubs because, you know, never-ending beer.
Now that’s out of the way… How did we get on?
Puzzles in Pubs
This game was played over three beautiful quality drinks coasters with cork backing. We decided to give the game a go over a couple of rounds of drinks at our local. Despite the drinks, the coasters held up really well, making them lovely keepsakes to take home once your pub shenanigans are over. They were even eye-catching enough that some of the bar staff asked us about the game we were playing – perhaps puzzle coasters like this will become a staple of pubs in the future, eh?
On each coaster, we had three puzzles to solve. Each puzzle gave a single word which, when combined together gate a What3Words code with an iconic UK location on it.
In terms of types of puzzles, our coasters had a wide ranging mix of different things to suit different players – so our recommendation would be to bring a team on the bigger side when you want to play this, as more heads are better than one.
We encountered some familiar puzzles, such as word association, missing letters, nonograms and anagrams, and some less familiar puzzles that involved twisting and turning the coasters around and thinking outside of the box. Overall, we did find the experience on the harder side, but we’ve found that many of Enigmailed’s experiences are a learning curve – so the Pouroboros Deluxe add-on is definitely one for seasoned puzzlers!
But on the flip side, that’s one of the reasons Pouroboros sets itself apart from other London scavenger hunt type experiences. It’s a level up in difficulty, sure, but the creators have done a lot with such a small space on a drinks coaster. Players will be truly challenged!
Since we were playing an early access version there were no clues available. But, the day after we checked our answers with the creator and it all fell into place. Only a few wrong answers (yep, I’m embarrassed to say!) but that’s what happens when you drink and puzzle. Those playing the live version will of course have a hints page to check their answers against, lest they put the wrong What3Words and up in the ‘wrong part of London’. Wherever that is. I’ll leave that one up to your imagination.
A challenging experience to elevate your new pub crawl around London with mates. We had a lot of fun, and I got to combine two of my favourite activities: solving puzzles with hanging out at the pub with friends of a weekend. If you want something a little different, especially as we come out of lockdown, it’s well worth a try.
Have you ever felt your delivery company are playing a puzzle game with you, holding your parcels and packages hostage? Well, now you can play this game in real life!
Undeliverable is another first of it’s kind from the UK-based puzzle makers Enigmailed. The best way to describe Enigmailed is probably ‘purveyors of puzzle gifts’, or perhaps ‘creators of puzzle games that absolutely defy categorisation’. I didn’t think it were possible to be as impressed as I was with Chocolateral but here I am again, sitting on the floor next to my letterbox with Undeliverable in my hand thinking “woah this is cool!”
How does Undeliverable work?
Remember back to the last time you were expecting an important parcel… You were so excited you checked your letterbox every day, and when you knew the postal worker would be on their route perhaps you even waited by the window. Until one day you turn your back to pour a cup of tea and hear the disappointing noise of a card through your letterbox:
“Sorry, we just missed you!”
Undeliverable is like this. Except rather than disappointing it’s a little more “Oh, I didn’t order anything… how exciting!”. It’s a series of cards through your letterbox that you weren’t expecting from a company you’ve never heard of. The most exciting part? It’s a puzzle game!
You are getting a delivery!
The first card I received was an inconspicuous looking card through my letterbox from Atraso letting my know they had my parcel at the Main Depot. Great! Except… I don’t remember ordering anything. Come to think of it, the closer I look the more peculiar this delivery notice seems. Not wo worry, I’m sure it’s legit.
A week or so later, another arrives. Hooray! My parcel is now at the Sorting Office. Plus there’s now a handy guide on the front showing the logistics of this mysterious Atraso shipping company, just in case I needed some more information. Very curious indeed.
A week later, it’s in the area hub! Oh so exciting – I can see the depot on a little map provided. My mysterious package must be close now, right?
Finally, the dreaded “Argh! We just missed you!” Typical!
Peculiar Parcel Puzzles
Each of the four cards in Undeliverable comes with a link to track your parcel – but it’s not as simple as this. To track your parcel the shipping company Atraso require your reference number, an additional digit, and three further (increasingly bizarre) pieces of information such as “A distressing call” or “An animal”.
To find this information, you need to look closely at the cards. Sometimes a puzzle jumps out immediately, other times it takes a little longer to realise that something isn’t quite right.
If you’re reading this review looking for answers, my best piece of advice is to say that everything is on the cards is there for a reason. Not a single bit of space is wasted and it helps to look really, really closely! If something feels out of place, it is.
On my first playthrough as part of an early play test I scored 69% (ayyy, no jokes). But the funny part is, I’m quite proud of that that score. Undeliverable is difficult! With no answers available (only a few clues), if you’re truly stuck your option is to submit your best guess and keep your fingers crossed.
Honestly? I had such a love / hate relationship with this little game when I played it. When I saw my friend Nick at Kent Escape Room Reviews playing it I was immensely jealous. He sent me a message one morning asking for a second opinion on how to solve a particular puzzle. Neither of us could crack it and then – a few days later – I received my own first card in the post and discovered that this one puzzle I’d been mulling over was just the tip of the difficult ice berg.
But difficult does not equal bad. Actually, Undeliverable is far from it. It’s brilliant and anyone playing it will immediately see how much love and effort has gone into making this a truly unique experience. There’s nothing quite like it on the market and whether you purchase it as a gift or just a treat for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
Undeliverable can be purchased for £11 on Enigmailed’s website here and for a limited time you can also use the promocode MAIL10 for 10% off.
Today, treasure hunters in London have a brand new challenge to get stuck into: The Pouroboros Hoard! It’s been a fair few months (or years even) that we’ve had a fun real-life puzzle hunt to get our teeth stuck into. I blame the pandemic. But with spring on the horizon and lockdown finally eased in the UK, bright things may be ahead.
The adventure is brought to you by Enigmailed in support of their upcoming Kickstarter launch, Notable Remains.
The Pouroboros Hoard is a collection of genuine Roman coins, stowed within a unique wooden chest. You need to identify the hiding point of the hoard (which has been signposted) which is in a public space within three miles of Trafalgar Square.
The new challenge follows the success of the company’s previous Kickstarter: Pouroboros and takes players across iconic locations in London in search of the treasure. However, players can still take part from anywhere in the world (and win!) without having boots on the ground in the UK’s capital.
The best part? More coins will be added over the course of the hunt for each week the treasure remains undiscovered!
The treasure hunt is a series of clues using what3words to encode nine unique locations within London. Once players have cracked the codes and identified all nine locations, the next step is to triangulate the information to reveal the mysterious location of the Pouroboros Hoard.
The nine locations are identified by playing Pouroboros game, which was released this month after the successful Kickstarter run. Whilst this may give early backers a little head start – anybody can get started for free by heading to this link here.
The first person to correctly identify the location of the treasure in an email will win the Pouroboros Hoard! That winner (and the answer) will be publicly announced at the beginning of the Notable Remains Kickstarter.
About Notable Remains Kickstarter
Not a lot is known about Notable Remains Kickstarter yet besides a tantalising image and description, but the countdown is now officially on. What we do know is that it;ll involve maps, remote islands, and of course: treasure!
Its time to give you the inside track on something new and exciting!
The team at Enigmailed, known for their outstanding innovative creations including the fabulous Chocolateral and Undeliverable (which we are massive fans of) now bring you something a little different, something which we are are equally excited about!
The headlines are simple:
30 Challenges, 30 Days, 30 Puzzles.
Lets face it, we wouldn’t be in the escape room game if it weren’t for our love of puzzles and our overwhelming desire to overcome challenges!
Fool’s Errand will be a month-long daily active puzzle challenge kicking off in April 2022. Early bird tickets to take part in the race cost £20 per person (discounted for teams and healthcare workers), and can be purchased here.
It sounds just like the thing I need to help me kick start my new years healthy lifestyle (slowly puts down the pack of delicious chocolate biscuits).
Is it a Sprint or a Marathon?!
Well, the great thing about this new adventure is that its completely down to you. If you want to hit things hard, go for it! If not, like me, slow steady steps is the way forward. You set your goals and challenges. The Fool’s Errand team will set your daily puzzles.
Given the creativity seen from Enigmailed before, be prepared for all kinds of fun and frolics – but be sure to get them thinking caps on – this will be no walk in the park!
If, like me, the thought of pacing the streets on your own fills you with dread, there is no need to worry; you can also share your puzzles and daily challenges as a team of two!
Brilliantly, there is also no need to be a real gym bunny, marathon runner or Olympic swimmer to take part. You choose your charity, and pass the sponsorship form to friends, family, office colleagues, even the people you pass on the high street, and then you can select your daily fitness goals.
Be it a half hour daily dog walk, your 10,000 daily step allowance, a few lengths of the local swimming pool, hell, even chasing the kids up and door stairs every day to make sure they pick their toys up!
Every day throughout April you’ll be emailed over a daily puzzle challenge. Even if your legs haven’t been given a workout, we’re quite sure your brain will! Enigmailed have promised that the answer to each puzzle will give you a subtle instruction to the next days task!
Being the selfish guy I am, clearly I will be raising money for my own selected charity, but, what’s in it for me?!
Along with the satisfaction of building on the healthy lifestyle ethos which we all long for, and the daily momentous moments of smashing through puzzles, there will be a daily leader board, support through the online social media channels and, to help build my ego a little further, daily spot prizes for teams and individuals that go the extra mile!
To top it off, each participant receives a 45mm commemorative colour metal pin, which comes complete with a built-in puzzle! Let’s be honest, we are not going to go short of puzzles in April! We’re looking forward to it!
Time to Get the Running Shoes on ?!
Yes! Why the hell not. Raise money for whatever charity you want, build up your fitness, get your puzzle count up, give your brain a daily workout, and maybe if your lucky, pick up a prize along the way. The decision shouldn’t be difficult, even if this picture of me tells a different story!
Pick up your individual or team ticket right now with an Early Bird discount. If you’re up for the challenge, sign up, and get your brain and body ready for what’s sure to be a brilliant summer!
Spring 2023 is finally here, and with it comes a fresh crop of tabletop games ready to take the world by storm. But there’s one genre that’s been steadily rising in popularity and creativity: puzzle games. From collaborative escape room experiences to head-scratching solo challenges, these games are proving that there’s more to the tabletop world than just rolling dice and moving pieces.
And where better to find these innovative and engaging puzzle games than on Kickstarter? Crowdfunding has become the go-to platform for independent designers and publishers looking to bring their ideas to life. With its passionate community of backers and the ability to fund projects directly, Kickstarter has become a hotbed of creativity in the gaming industry. So let’s dive into some of the most exciting puzzle game Kickstarters we’re looking forward to in Spring 2023!
From Enigmailed (one of our absolute favourite creators) comes a new experience: Escape the Book Nook. A miniature diorama escape room that snugly fits on your bookshelf. Escape the Book Nook is due to launch on Kickstarter some time in May.
Launching at the end of March, Dysturbia is a trio of play-at-home puzzle projects from homunculus SPIEL. Choose from a book, an advent calendar, or a weekly calendar, and unravel the mystery solo or with friends. You can learn more about the games, and this upcoming Kickstarter from their website here.
Missed Tale of Ord? Yeah, us too. But fear not – the original creator of the rare and expensive experience are working on a Remastered edition, called Threads of Fate: A Puzzle Tale. Little is known about this Kickstarter, except that it’ll launch some time in April.
From murder mystery company, A Killing Affair, comes a murder mystery game ‘from beyond the grave’. Unlike a classic murder mystery, Blind Faith will be a tabletop game containing evidence players must sort through and solve to ‘crack the case’. We’re intrigued! Blind Faith launches Tuesday 21st March. Get in early to secure an earlybird bonus.
Not as much is known about the latest Detective Society project, since it was officially announced 6 months ago in October 2022, but we’re excitedly awaiting more news about it soon. The Detective Society are best known for their murder mystery series, and a few smaller, family games launched on Kickstarter in the years that followed.
Have we missed one you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments!
It’s an exciting day for puzzle enthusiasts across the country!
The long awaited Puzzle Bundle UK is now available for sale at eight online puzzle stores. In this special Christmas exclusive, eight British puzzle game creators have come together to create a unique puzzle bundle hamper… Just in time for Christmas!
Included within the bundle are a range of puzzles lasting between 30 minutes to well over an hour each. All the puzzles are self contained, and the best part? There’s a mix of completely original puzzles to the bundle and some well-loved favourites at a discounted rate too!
The bundle comes priced at £60 GBP with UK shipping included, or £65 with international shipping. You an find it on any of the providers websites and channels for the same price.
Limited to 100 Puzzle Bundles, for 7 Days Only!
Whether buying a treat for yourself to play over the festive season, or picking up 8 fantastic presents for the puzzle enthusiast in your life – you’d better hurry! To begin with, there will only be 100 Puzzle Bundles up for sale and, once the 7 day sale period ends, the bundle won’t be on sale again.
You an find it on any of the providers websites and channels below for the same price. The bundle altogether costs £60 including postage within the UK, and £65 outside the UK.
What is included in your Puzzle Bundle UK?
Show me the Puzzles!
The Puzzle Bundle UK contains a mix of completely unique puzzles and a few existing puzzle games you may recognise from your favourite British creators!
Enigmailed: Season’s Eatings
A delicious chocolate bar with themed puzzle wrapper.
The White Tent Company: The Snowflake Snatcher Advent Mystery
Jack Frosts magical snowflake staff has been stolen. Without it there will be no snow this winter. Uncover a clue a day to crack the case before Christmas is cancelled!
Wales-based The White Tent Company is a company specialising in live, immersive murder mysteries. They also have a range of at-home mysteries for armchair detectives to solve from the comfort of their own home.
“Hey, what would you like for Christmas?” my friends, partner and family asks me. “Oh I dunno, just escape room stuff!” I reply.
So how on earth do you shop for that escape room fan in your life? Here’s my definitive guide to what’s new on the UK (and further afield!) market this year, everything and anything Christmas themed, and the down low on what your escape room playing friend really wants in their stocking*
*Santa if you’re reading this, you know what to do.
Escape Room Gifts
My first category is “Escape Room Gifts”, this covers just about anything that isn’t an actual, playable escape room! Advent Calendars, stocking fillers and more!
An Escape Room Advent Calendar | £15 – £20
This year there are plenty of escape room advent calendars to choose from. I myself am enjoying the newest “Exit” calendar, but here are a few more you may wish to check out:
Escape Game Achievements – A2 Scratch Off Poster | £10 – £15
Okay, I have seen SO MUCH buzz about this on various escape room forums about the A2 Scratch Off Poster. That’s why I’m so excited to put this on my list this year! Where the video game world meets the escape room world, this poster gives you a series of unlockable achievements… For the real world! The perfect gift for escape room veterans and ‘just getting started’ players alike!
Genius? Or fiendishly cruel? You decide. If a fancy bottle of wine is your go-to Christmas gift, why not take the experience up a notch buy encasing it in a wooden puzzle. Kubiya games also have a selection of mini games, boxes, and even one of these for beer bottles!
This entry is inspired by an item of jewellery I own myself – its a little gold padlock necklace. A declaration of love, or a declaration of “I really enjoy escape rooms” it serves both purposes well. I’ve listed Scream Pretty, but plenty of local shops and Etsy sellers make similar, custom pieces.
It’s not Christmas until you eat a large quantity of chocolate and pass out on the sofa in front of Home Alone 2. Give the gift of chocolate this year – there’s no puzzle in this delicious box, so your lucky recipient can tuck in immediately. The Chocolate Workshop also do a range of other chocolate sculptures. I bought my mum a pair of chocolate scissors one year. Why not?
The last few years have been next level apocalyptic – but thankfully, as a result of not being able to leave your home and travel to see friends, the concept of “puzzles by post” has grown in popularity.
The concept is simple – your friend receives a mysterious envelope filled with puzzles to solve. When they do, they’ll get a code to log into a secret portal and find the message you’ve left for them! Write, record or snap something fun for your recipient to find. It’s something a little different for Christmas Day! Here are a few companies that do this, or something similar to this really, really well:
Curious Correspondence Club | £20
Curious Correspondence Club are a 24-part puzzle game told over a number of chapters. They place an emphasis on storytelling, supported by challenging puzzles to advance a narrative over two seasons. Handmade and delivered from Toronto, Canada if your gift won’t arrive in time they’ll send you a printable puzzle to let you recipient know their gift is on it’s way.
There are many escape room books out there. Here are a list of some (hopefully!) surprising books you may wish to consider for the escape room fan out there.
Journal 29 | £10 – £15
A classic! Ask any escape room fan out there, it deserves all the praise in the world too. Journal29 has over 63 riddles and puzzles contained within it’s pages, and each one is solved by inputting the answer into their website. You can write, draw, search, fold pages, combine different methods and try to get those riddles right. But did you know they also have a brand new book The Cypher Files out too? That’s Christmas morning sorted!
Often called “the world’s strangest book”, this is an Encyclopedia of an imaginary world written in an imaginary language. True, there are no puzzles to be solved. But it’s gorgeous, mysterious and excites all my “I must try and decipher this” senses. Whilst you’re at it, you might want to purchase a copy of the Voynich Manuscript too.
What even is Christmas if not a time for getting together with your loved ones and playing silly games? Whether you’re a fan of board games or videogames, giving one as a gift is something you can enjoy too! Whenever I’m showing up at my parent’s house for Christmas, I’m bringing a game for us to play.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes | £10 – £15
All you need to play this one is a printer and a console (yes, your mobile phone counts!). In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, one players is the ‘bomb disposal’ person, and the rest of the players have an elaborate defusal manual. Print ahead and pack this one in your overnight bag for Christmas, it’s an absolute crowd pleaser!
Okay, yes. I did just write a review and said “don’t play this drunk”, but I’m suggesting this one as a gift, not necessarily a party game over the mulled wine. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective games easily give the player over 20 hours of play time, and they’re packed with puzzles and cerebral challenges that even the great Sherlock himself would be challenged by. It’s a great gift for the price!
This is it! This is the ultimate escape room style board game and I will die on this hill if anyone disagrees! Two teams go head to head to decipher the other team’s code. Fastest wins. It’s really that simple, but oh so much fun. If your escape room friend doesn’t already own this game, immediately buy it for them. They need it. In fact, I’ve just put 3 in my shopping basket now.
I’ve never seen a board game get such glowing reviews from escape room fans, so you bet it’s on this year’s gift list! One player plays the role of the ghost, the others take the role of mediums, as you work together to reconstruct a murder. It’s exciting, engaging, and whats more a great game to play after Christmas dinner with those escape room fans in your life!
Just for Fun
Still stuck? How about this:
A Rubix Cube | £10 – £15
If you’ve read this far and haven’t already rushed off to buy your Christmas gifts – I can’t help you! But hey, this last item on the list might actually be the perfect stocking filler? And why not? It’s a classic since the 1970s. Why improve on perfection?
If you’re still in doubt – why not buy a voucher for their local escape room? The escape room industry has suffered A LOT in 2020, so supporting them with vouchers is more important than ever! Plus, your friend will enjoy having something to look forward to in 2021.
I haven’t got a list for this particular category, as it will completely depend on where your gift recipient lives in the world. But likely has it they’ve got their eyes on their next escape room just as soon as lockdown eases. Why not ask them where they’re headed and pick up a voucher for an experience?
Trust me on this one! It’s a win-win gift.
Did I miss something? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your top gifts and we’ll add them in!