Scarlet Envelope: Tale of a Golden Dragon | Review

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Tale of a Golden Dragon Review | One upon a time in the Kingdom of Severin, the legendary Golden Firedragon escapes the Castle and beats a path of destruction across the countryside. Terrified, the Royals announce a reward for saving their Kingdom, with one condition – the hero should use their head and not their sword! Expect the ironic Medieval fairytale with the DND style of writing, custom illustrations, and, of course, puzzles!

Completion Time: 1hr
Date Played: 23rd January 2022
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Medium

*cue Game of Thrones music*

Dun dun, d-d-dun dun, d-d-doooooo!

After polishing off Chapter 6: Screaming Venice Art Heist with a cheeky break for lunch, Bianca and I were ready to tackle the next game in the series: Tale of a Golden Dragon. The previous game had been quite difficult, so the more gentler paced narrative-driven chapter that followed was a welcome break. Less like a pure puzzle game, and more like an immersive fantasy story… With puzzles! Tale of a Golden Dragon was certainly different.

This chapter was quite unlike any other play-at-home escape game we’ve played, and honestly – the whole subscription is worth it just to play this one chapter. Scarlet Envelope have had 6 chapters to hone and polish their craft and by gosh they’ve done it. I don’t know how it’s possible for a game to still be this refreshing and delightful, but here it is! Hey!

Once Upon a Time in Severin

Tale of a Golden Dragon is your classic fantasy story. Somewhere between Game of Thrones (which I’ve never read), The Witcher (also never read) and Lord of the Rings (which I have devoured like a goblin who had just escaped from a 1,00 year long stay dungeon without books). My point being, I’m no expert in high fantasy, but I recognise it when I see it and this game has it all: Dragons, Witches, Kings and Queens, Legends and so on.

The story in this game follows a King and Queen who decide to raise a dragon all by themselves. Unfortunately this dragon, like any surly teenager, is completely out of control. Your goal is to bring the dragon back into the fold without killing it. Easier said than done, but along your adventure you’ll encounter a host of curious characters to help you.

There was a Bustling Kingdom

There are two things this game does really well. Firstly, those very same characters! Just like a rich RPG game each character has a back story and an amusing personality. From a very drunk wizard, to a chipper dragon trainer who lives several kingdoms across, to two puzzle creators we stumbled across by accident who live in the woods. *cough cough*

Great character design is nothing new to Scarlet Envelope though, from the astronauts in Distress Call from Outer Space, to the staff at Stanley’s Diner, the creators write good characters. Really good characters.

The second thing I loved about this game was the map. Early on in your envelope you’re given a map with co-ordinates dotted all around it. To help you get around the kingdom quickly you’re given a chauffeur- I mean, a dragon rider to courier you around. You can instruct the rider too take you anywhere in the kingdom at any time. Some of the things you encounter will be relevant to the plot, and others will be fun Easter Eggs for the explorers among us. It’s a lot of fun to know you can go anywhere and do anything, and it made the game feel much more like a video game or a Dungeons and Dragons session than a envelope-based puzzle game. For that I’m seriously impressed!

In our playthrough we discovered a lot of fantastic Easter Eggs on the map – so my advice to anyone playing this would be to definitely go back and try to find more! You never know where you might end up.

And a Mystery to be Solved

In terms of puzzles, it’s hard not to compare this game to the previous Screaming Venice Art Heist, purely because we played both one after the other. For that reason I would say this game was a lot easier. Still enjoyably challenging, but no big jumps of logic and no puzzles we needed to use any hints for.

As well as figuring out where to go next, each new location had a brand new puzzle to be solved. In particular, one puzzle stood out as absolutely brilliant fun – a mini game I remember from my childhood, a cross between a rotadraw and a spirograph which was used delightfully. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a puzzle I’ve never ever encountered in a play at home escape game before and I can’t think why not. It’s brilliant!

There was also the usual enjoyable word puzzles, and a few fun logic and slight mathematical ones I’ve come to love and enjoy about Scarlet Envelope. I don’t want to say too much about the puzzles since that would be spoiler territory, so I’ll just leave it by saying we’ve decided to award Tale of the Golden Dragon a very special “Puzzle Prize” badge for particularly satisfying puzzles. In fact, it’s the very first badge of it’s kind we’ve awarded here on The Escape Roomer, so props to Scarlet Envelope for making such a memorably fun puzzle game!

Side Quests

But puzzles, plot and fantasy aside – here are a few additional things we absolutely loved (and thought could possibly be improved) about the experience.

Firstly: THE MUSIC! So full disclaimer, I almost never listen to the playlist Scarlet Envelope provides. Call me old fashioned but I like to do my puzzles in silence… That sounds weird. Probably is hey. But today with Bianca playing along with me, we decided to put on the playlist. The soundtrack that accompanies Tale of a Golden Dragon was, to put it simply: brilliant! From Lord of the Rings Dwarven chants, to Toss a Coin to your Witcher, I found myself singing along on more than one occasion.

So a word of advice – definitely don’t skip this playlist!

The second thing of note was the voice acting. With a lot of text to read in the more narrative parts of the game, we found that some pages were fully voice acted and others were not. Those that were, were fantastic. But I definitely felt like the whole thing should have been voice acted.

(As a side note myself + my VA-in-training partner volunteer our free labour if the creators would like any British accents in the game!)

The lack of, or partial voice acting wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can imagine that with a larger group of people, pausing to read each page (in your head or out loud) could be tricky. I’m unsure whether the creators plan to continue adding more actors into the game to provide an audio alternative to written text, but it’s something we’d love to see more of because we loved it!

The Verdict

In a nutshell, we loved Tale of a Golden Dragon. It could well go down as my favourite game of 2022 and makes the whole subscription worth it. If Scarlet Envelope decide to set all future games in the Kingdom of Severin, I’ll be very happy!

*cough cough* Fantasy spin off… Anyone?

From the brilliant writing, to characters, to voice acting, and some of the most enjoyable puzzles I’ve ever had the pleasure of solving… Tale of a Golden Dragon is an almost flawless play-at-home envelope game in my opinion.

You can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope by heading to their website here.

Scarlet Envelope: Screaming Venice Art Heist

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Screaming Venice Art Heist Review | THE SCREAM, Munch’s famous painting & the art’s most haunting face, goes AWOL right before the opening of a posh Art Biennale in Venice. Art lovers are confused: anyone knows that such a well-known piece is impossible to resell! Was it taken for ransom? Or to cover up a larger story? Oh, they have NO idea…

Completion Time: 1hr 30
Date Played: 23rd January 2022
Party Size: 2 (+1)
Difficulty: Hard

If this is the face you make when trying to solve the latest Scarlet Envelope game, Screaming Venice Art Heist… Then you’re not alone!

Just kidding! Yes, this chapter in the subscription is hard, but it’s not insurmountably hard. A couple of hours and a few clues later Bianca and I cracked the codes and tracked down the missing Munch painting. All in a days work for a sunny Sunday morning over a cup of tea.

But lets get into it. What is Screaming Venice Art Heist and how did the pair of us really do with the game?

The Scream is… Missing!

The story of the latest chapter in Scarlet Envelope’s brilliant puzzle subscription follows the infamous painting known as The Scream. Just moments before the gallery’s big millennium opening, The Scream goes missing. Think Netflix’s This is a Robbery, only rather than the police there’s just you to solve the case. Eek! No pressure?!

Everything you need to solve the case is contained within one scarlet coloured envelope. Unlike previous Scarlet Envelope games, like Breakfast for a Serial Killer, we found the envelope comparatively quite light. There are some leaflets for the museum, some small slips of paper, and a bookmark. But essentially that is it.

I feel like in a real art heist case I’d probably need more to go on, but the trail of clues left behind by the master thief sure enough was there. If only we knew how to look.

Screaming at Puzzles

In terms of puzzles and difficulty, as I’ve mentioned we found this game quite tricky. Before we sat down to play, we had a chat about their other games in the series and how long they typically took – I suppose planning out our day and how many games we’d be able to power through together. But whatever we guessed this game would take – double it! We spent well over an hour and a half puzzling through Screaming Venice Art Heist and even enjoyed a break for lunch.

Where in other games the materials are spread out to provide lots of smaller puzzles, Screaming Venice Art Heist was centred around one big linear meta puzzle. The goal was simple: Find letters, convert to colours, convert that to numbers, pop the numbers on the website and Bob’s your uncle.

The linear nature of the game meant that we had to work together closely on each puzzle, but more heads weren’t necessarily better as we still managed to trip up several times. Whilst it took a while to garner the information from each step, we were equally never quite sure what to do with that information to make the jump to the next step.

There was one puzzle we felt didn’t quite work in some cultural contexts. I don’t know if it’s a Europe vs North America distinction (although the creators are themselves European), but to solve one particular step we didn’t have the same cultural point of reference on which to rely. It also wasn’t something we could Google. As to avoid spoilers, we won’t detail the puzzle, but rest assured we needed another hint at that step.

Thankfully, Scarlet Envelope always have a fantastic clue system. There’s always a mini-puzzle to solve to gain access to the hints (which even if I don’t need hints I enjoy solving as a bonus), and once you’re on the clues page it’s carefully laid out as to avoid spoilers. In this game, we became very familiar with the hints in order to keep us on track.

The Story Stole the Show!

Puzzles aside, one of the things I did love about this game was the story. I mean, I’m a sucker for an art heist and Scarlet Envelope pulled theirs’ off flawlessly! The mystery! The intrigue! The TWISTS! Ugh, yes please!

Scarlet Envelope also has a meta puzzle running through all of their envelopes which is fantastically fun to watch unfold. The bonus puzzle in Screaming Venice Art Heist that gave us our answer for the multi-chapter meta was a particularly fun one that had us thinking outside the box. It’s also probably my favourite so far and I’m officially very excited to complete the series and crack that meta!

Finally, one thing Scarlet Envelope does well and again, particularly well in this chapter is the quality of material and integration with some digital elements with the physical envelope in front of you. Think videos, sound files, actors playing out scenes and more. You know you’re getting something great with Scarlet Envelope when each new chapter arrives.

The Verdict

It’s true, we did find Screaming Venice Art Heist particularly hard. It’s easily the trickiest in the series so far and for that reason it’s probably not my favourite. There were a few uncomfortable logic leaps, and we made a few easy mistakes early on that dragged out the puzzle solving well past lunch time (Note to Self: Don’t puzzle on an empty stomach!)

But Scarlet Envelope has to be viewed as a whole and not as each individual envelope. It’s impossible that every single game in a series will resonate with every player. So all in all, I’m still in love with the company! The previous game (Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri) is one of my all time favourites, and the envelope we played immediately after (Tale of a Golden Dragon) was absolutely flawless. No seriously, it was so damn good! I’m excited just thinking about it.

You can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope by heading to their website here.

The Enigma Fellowship: Dinner Party | Review

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The Enigma Fellowship – The Dinner Party Review | Enrico Fabricci, a vintner has been missing for months. The disappearance happened at the same time as The Scattered Cards kidnappings. He was never found. The Fabricci ancestral estate, including the impressive Castello Di Dolcci in Italy, is embroiled in legal battles. Now, his heirs and the court appointed caretaker of their Castle in Tuscany have received mysterious invitations.

Can you find out what happened to Enrico and help save a legacy in peril?

Completion Time: Around 120 minutes
Date Played: 20th December 2021
Party Size: 2
Difficulty: Enjoyable and challenging

For two hours, you will be immersed in the Castello De Dolcci and its expansive grounds – searching through evidence and solving cryptic clues to try and find out what has happened to the vinter Enrico Fabricci.

About Dinner Party

This being my first Enigma Fellowship adventure, I didn’t really know truly what to expect with The Dinner Party. As soon as I opened the unassuming white envelope and its opulent contents spilled out onto our table, I knew we were in for a treat.

The first thing that caught our eye were the invitations to the main event itself – the Dinner Party at the Castello Di Dolci, with some beautiful print work and eye-catching ribbon. But once we got stuck into the game, we realised that it was more what didn’t catch our eye that was important, with observation being a key part of affairs.

The scene was set by some excellent voice acting and I found myself, throughout the game, wishing I could experience it in person, the wine cellars, the library, the vineyard, all vivid in my imagination.

The Challenges

The puzzles in The Dinner Party are varied and enjoyable, with a mix of the mathematical, the verbal, the observational and the logical.

What I really enjoyed about the game was the way that progression was controlled and how the goals of the game were set. When embarking on a puzzle we always knew what we were aiming for – a 6 digit code, an 8 letter word – I personally always find tabletop games to flow better when I have a sense of direction, and The Dinner Party consistently offered me this reassurance with a neat online system.

The first section of the game really set the scene for what was to come, with some elements of spatial observation that used the paper elements in a really interesting way. Every piece of paper was essential, whether it was to enhance the plot or used for a puzzle.

We made it into the first of the ‘locked’ envelopes and discovered that there was so much more content inside. Each step of progression gave us more to read, more to unravel and more to puzzle.

Another feature that I really enjoyed about the design of the game was the extremely comprehensive  clue system. As much as me and my playing partner enjoy the more tricky puzzles, we are definitely not ones to struggle for longer than we deem necessary. We also; however, don’t like being told the answers immediately. This leads to a tricky balance for a clue system to manage, but the clue system for The Enigma Fellowship was fantastic in this regard, with incremental help that really assists you in a non-overbearing way.

Was The Enigma Fellowship: Dinner Party fun?

When reviewing an experience I feel like this is always the most important question. Was it fun? Did we have a good time? Would I recommend it?

We decided on a few spoiler-free highlights:

Firstly; a maths-based puzzle in the middle which required both history and mathematics in a wonderful combination. The nice feature of this puzzle was that no outside knowledge was required, everything you needed to know was provided in the envelope.

Another of our highlights was a particular element in the game which combined the physical and the logical together to give a neat solution. I don’t want to say too much about this, but at the start we suspected that this physical element would turn into a puzzle, and the designers didn’t disappoint, with a clever solution providing an essential answer.

It wouldn’t be a highlight section without another nod to the great voice acting in the game. The voice clips were a lovely method to set the scene of the game, breaking the story to the players in an exciting way and also reducing the amount of reading in the game, which although not a deal-breaker for me and my partner, can be for some tabletop players.

Summary

Overall I think that The Enigma Fellowship: Dinner Party was a tabletop escape game experience that hits all the notes that people who enjoy tabletop escape games will appreciate.

I think my only criticism would be that it doesn’t break any new ground when it comes to tabletop escape games. But that’s not necessarily a bad quality. Dinner Party knows what it is and owns it – it has a nice storyline and some clever physical paper puzzles. You know what you’re getting in for when you set out to play and if you enjoy tabletop paper-based games then you’re in for a fun evening.

It took me and my partner about 120 minutes to complete the game and I would say that above all it is excellent value. We enjoyed solving the puzzles and were fully immersed in the plot of finding what had happened to Sig. Fabricci.

The Enigma Fellowship: Dinner Party can be purchased here

The Curious Correspondence Club: Warehouse on the Wharf | Review

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The Curious Correspondence Club: Warehouse on the Wharf | Review | Chapter II takes you to Padstow Wharf to find the second of 12 ancient artifacts hidden among the hundreds of shipments arriving and leaving the warehouse.

Hot on the heels of another agent who went missing in action, you must use the map, film negative, and cargo panels she left behind to piece together the artifact’s location before it is moved and lost forever.

Completion Time: 70 Minutes
Date Played: October 3rd 2021
Party Size:
Recommended For: An incredibly inventive, stimulating, and varied at-home experience

Chapter II of the Curious Correspondence Club leads you from the museum to the wharf for an exciting continuation of your journey as a new recruit of the mysterious organization. Following the footsteps and clues left behind by the missing AGENT RED, I found this chapter to be even more immersive and engaging than the first (check out my review of Chapter One here). 

Once again, I was blown away by the variety, beauty, and inventiveness of the game pieces that came in the envelope. Intricate is an understatement. The variety of items that the creators portray in a 2D format is fascinating (I found the film negative to be particularly delightful)!

Just as in Chapter I, be prepared for a variety of puzzles that cater to different types of thinkers. In my previous review, I admonished myself for diving into these mysteries as a “solo agent” and suggested playing with at least one other person, however, I rarely listen to anyone, including myself, and therefore attempted Chapter II while home alone on a chilly autumn night. Luckily for me, I did have an easier time with Chapter II, in part because I was familiar with the foundations of what makes the Curious Correspondence Club tick, but also due to the setting.

While I loved the museum setting of Chapter I, I found the objectives within Chapter II more directly connected to the puzzles at hand, something that I struggled with in the first chapter. The puzzles were not necessarily less challenging, however, I did find them, to their benefit, more easily completed because of this correspondence (no pun intended) to the in-game tasks. Given that I am now a full fledged agent rather than going through my initiation, I hope that the following chapters follow this model, as having clearly defined tasks laid out handily in the introductory note gave me more time to focus on the actual tasks at hand rather than questioning what I was supposed to be doing. 

As a humanities minded individual, I was initially unsure if I would be well suited to solving the code breaking, observational puzzles contained in Chapter II. To the contrary, I found them more intuitive and satisfying to solve (and more easily done without hints!) than the museum-set Chapter I, perhaps because I didn’t have any outside knowledge about the Greeks or dinosaurs clouding my thought process. I very much enjoyed taking on the role of a secret agent for the evening, next time I’ll have to break out my black polo neck. 

I definitely relied a lot less on the hints this time, although I would use them to “check my work” if I wasn’t 100% sure of my answer because I learned from Chapter I that a wrong solution in one section could lead to disaster later down the line (disaster here meaning I had to unnecessarily redo things, something that I find very annoying). When I did use the hints, I found them to be more helpful than last time, again I think the plot structure of Chapter II definitely helped in this regard. 

The one tactile/building puzzle in the envelope, while very interesting in concept, proved to be an absolutely impossible task for me as a solo player. That being said, as I stated in my previous review, fine motor skills are by no means my strong suit! The rest of the puzzles I could have managed alone, but I think every player could benefit from an extra pair of hands when it comes to this task. 

The Verdict

I found Chapter II to be a brilliant instalment of the Curious Correspondence Club that creates an excellent blueprint of how the future chapters could play out. Like the Godfather Part 2 or Shrek 2, I’d class it as a rare sequel that surpasses the original.

It made me very excited to play the future episodes, perhaps I will even finally listen to my own advice and make my partner play Chapter III with me. I would highly recommend this game to all puzzle lovers who are up for an exciting and unique challenge.

Warehouse on the Wharf can be purchased as part of the Curious Correspondence Club subscription on their website here.

Ratings

Curious Correspondence Club: The Custodian’s Keys | Review

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Curious Correspondence Club: The Custodian’s Keys Review | A museum ticket marked with a curious symbol leads you to the M. B. Franklin Museum of Natural History to investigate six keys, six exhibits, and one strange lock.  You must explore each exhibit and solve the clues to pair the right keys with the right locks. Completing this puzzle will reveal the location of an ancient treasure within the museum. Will you be able to unlock the secrets?

Completion Time: 80 Minutes
Date Played: September 22nd 2021
Party Size: 1 (and a half)
Recommended For: A challenging, beautifully designed, and tactile at-home experience

Each envelope from The Curious Correspondence Club contains a world of treasures: the relatively small letter opens up to reveal an array of cleverly and beautifully designed props with puzzles to solve and mysteries to uncover. 

It’s impossible not to be impressed by the detail, variety, and scope of this at home experience. You’ll truly be transported to another world from the comfort of your own house.

Expert puzzle solvers, this game is for you! I believe even the most experienced minds would be challenged by the mysteries contained inside this little envelope.

When I first opened the envelope, I immediately laid out the various props, delighted and amazed by the inventiveness and quality of each piece of paper that has been expertly engineered and transformed into items you encounter in the M. B. Franklin Museum. 

Top marks for beauty and originality!

It was almost too beautiful, as I felt the urge to preserve the items. For the first 20 minutes of game play, I resisted marking up or damaging the pieces, which did not make the task at hand any easier for myself. And these puzzles are certainly not an easy task. 

The puzzles themselves are incredibly varied and cater to different types of thinkers. The tactile elements were particularly exciting, although some of them proved a bit tricky to manoeuvre correctly. I was led down the wrong path on more than one occasion by a minutely askew piece, but to be fair, fine motor skills are not my strong suit! 

I found the experience challenging, not necessarily because of the puzzles themselves (although they were challenging by their own merits), but because I had trouble adapting to the mindset of how everything was meant to connect. This was less of the case in Chapter Two, which I also played (no spoilers yet for that review!) This was, in part, because I had a better understanding of how the game-makers think, but more significantly because the tasks at hand were laid out more directly and it was easier to connect the plot based challenges to the actual puzzles that you were meant to solve. I understand from a story perspective why the second chapter had more clearly explained directives, however, it feels like a missed opportunity that the first chapter didn’t act as more of a tutorial on what makes these mysteries tick.

I did end up using the hints and some spoilers, and to be honest with you, I doubt I could have completed the game without them. I liked how the hints were in character, but I felt they could have been more helpful if they were a bit clearer. I often already realized the “hint” by myself, the challenge was making the leap from that story driven thought process to the literal task at hand, so I would end up having to spoil myself. Again, this was less of the case in Chapter Two.

I did this game alone for the most part, but when I called in my partner out of desperation, there were things I missed that they quickly figured out. I would definitely recommend doing it with at least one other person, unless you’re a puzzle solving genius who’s up for a challenge. 

The Verdict

Despite the difficulty level, I really enjoyed the ingenuity and novelty on display in Chapter One and I would definitely recommend it to others, particularly mystery and puzzle enthusiasts who want their skills to be tested. I love that they’re part of a larger narrative and I’m excited to dive further into the series to see where the Curious Correspondence Club takes me.

The Custodian’s Keys by Curious Correspondence Club can be purchased on their website here.

Don’t forget to check out their free Halloween event this October.

Ratings

Enigmailed: Undeliverable | Review

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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.

The Verdict

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.

Ratings

Scarlet Envelope: Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri | Review

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Mr. Ferri, the extravagant animal lover and the owner of the creepiest mansion in town, has suddenly passed away. The word on the street is that he was killed…by his own lion! But…was he really? And why is his wife hiring you to get him back home, while his son is talking to Ferri’s spirit through the ouija board? Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands!

Rating: Unique!
Completion Time: 1:45
Date Played: 3rd May 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Curious folks who want to unravel a unique narrative mystery!

📢 ANNOUNCEMENT 📢

You can win a copy of Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!

Woohoo, we are back with Chapter 5 (I feel like I’m really powering through these lately!) in the Scarlet Envelope series. Inching ever closer to ‘the truth’, AKA finding out more about your mysterious Scarlet Envelope master and why, oh why has he been sending you throughout time to solve mysteries?

Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri is unique in every sense of the word! It’s true, this game sticks with the general ‘mystery’ theme but steps away from the crime-y / whodunnit vibe of Breakfast for a Serial Killer and Cabaret in Lapin Blanc. Instead, you have a lot of information to sift through in what feels more like a scavenger hunt and a ‘grand finale’ minimal online interface that rounds out the story nicely. It’s more narrative heavy than I expected and we spent a lot of time with each individual character understanding who they are. Despite the lack of murder, I felt like I was on the set of the film Knives Out, complete with colourful and eccentric characters!

The Story

The rich old Mr. Ferri, an animal lover and owner of an almost certainly haunted mansion, sadly passes away. The only problem? Nobody really believes he’s actually dead. Every year Mr. Ferri sets up an audacious prank for his family members- a scavenger hunt if you were. The winner each year gets a larger portion of the Will.

Even with no body found, a very satisfied lion and scraps of clothing is enough for the detectives to call this an accidental death-by-lion. But you’re hired to figure out what really happened. Could it be possible Mr. Ferri is dead, or is this just some elaborate ruse? The game is afoot!

I love it! It’s light hearted, funny, and utterly charming. If he were real, I reckon I’d be great friends with Mr. Ferri.

The Experience

Almost everything you need to complete Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri is in the envelope! Unlike the previous games, this one I believe relies the least on an online interface, and besides an introductory voicemail, I only used my laptop at the very end of the experience to input my final answer.

The game, in a slight twist I haven’t seen in another escape room experience STARTS with a logic grid puzzle. I say I’m surprised because I’ve played (and designed, hah!) a few which use logic grids as the anchor but usually end with the successful completion of your grid. Instead, Wild Mansion of Mr. Ferri begins with the completion of the logic grid. You can’t even begin to solve the puzzles until you’ve done this step.

The reason being, one of the key ‘pranks’ Mr. Ferri plays is that he’s assigned each member of his family a totem animal. But until you figure out who is who, you can’t do a lot with the information!

Once this IS out of the way, you then must work methodically examining each of the totem animal puzzles one after the other and solving the tasks that have been set for them. The bear, the crow, the snake, the cat and the horse. Each puzzle solved gives a solution, which when taken together gives another solution which completes the game! It’s a nice structure and again, a cool concept!

I had a minor tech issue at one point – specifically the web interface which requires you to assign each family member their animal, but this was quickly solved by finding a link in the clues page.

The Puzzles

I found this game… Really hard! I think whizzing through Breakfast for a Serial Killer lured me into a false sense of security because this one was fiendish! Sure, sure, I think I’m playing on “difficult” mode, but heck I also think I used a hint on almost every puzzle *hides with embarrassment*

The part I enjoyed the most was the logic puzzle. The game gives you a table, but I chose to draw out the full grid myself. After all, if a logic grid is going to be done properly, you may as well draw the whole thing out! And actually, it was a good shout! I needed it. There’s a lot of information (I believe 6 separate categories to track), and only so much you can do without drawing it out.

Another puzzle that was a lot of fun involved some physical manipulation of paper, but I’m not talking about cutting or folding! One of the items in the envelope, when solved correctly, gives a hint at what you should do with it next. I spent a good 15 minutes being like “surely not”, before checking the hints and realising oh yes, I literally have to do this thing. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but put it this way – it’s a quirky use of printed material I’ve only ever seen in one other play at home escape room and I am very impressed!

Besides these two puzzles, the rest of the pack was typical Scarlet Envelope: “Wow this is so difficult to solve” to an immediate “Oh wow!!” when you finally do crack it. Players can expect to encounter a wide range of things to do and mysteries to solve in this game.

Other Cool Things

  • To access the clues page, you must always first solve a puzzle. This one was actually pretty tricky, in a good way! I almost gave up and emailed the creators and them *boom* I suddenly saw the solution that gave me the access to the hints.
  • There’s a playlist! Yay! I love a game that comes with a good Spotify playlist and this one really set the mood.
  • Another nice touch was that I was super pleased to see see some minority representation in this game. I may be wrong but I think it’s the first game in the Scarlet Envelope series to feature a POC main character

Overall

A brilliant little game that really challenges the brain! I’d recommend this one to anyone who wants to play something a little different. It’s funny, good for a small group, but it’ll still really challenge you and provide some wonderful “aha!” moments. When playing by myself I tend to request clues sooner and faster, but I reckon this game might be their longest yet and could easily give you 3 hours of fun!

Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.

Scarlet Envelope: Breakfast for a Serial Killer | Review

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“Extraordinary Weekly”, 10/30/1956: “The death of Janice Ward, a young mother of two and a waitress at Stanley’s Diner, is being investigated in connection to similar cases in the state…” This time, Game Master assigns you to work as a cop in the fifties. Bring justice to the victims of a serial killer who clearly has a thing for junk food! Expect case files, coroner’s reports, & footage of suspects’ interrogations.

Rating: Exciting!
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 1st May 2021
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Armchair detectives and amateur sleuths!

📢 ANNOUNCEMENT 📢

You can win a copy of Breakfast for a Serial Killer from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!

TW: This game contains themes of murder and domestic violence. It is non graphic and I think suitable for players aged 13+ with parental supervision.

Breakfast for a Serial Killer is the 4th chapter in the Scarlet Envelope series and this time we’re in 1950s Canada complete with cute hairstyles, diners and- of course- murder! In all sense of the word, this game is a classic murder mystery. 5 suspects, 2 victims, and you the detective. You’ve been sent back in time to catch a serial killer before they go on to kill again. Exciting? Heck yeah! I love murder mystery games.

Breakfast for a Serial Killer takes a linear format. What this means is you interview each suspect one after the other and as each new testimony becomes available you gain access to new pieces of evidence. The game holds your hand through the mystery slightly: you only know what you need to know. Each reveal is a new “aha!” moment revealing just enough to keep you guessing!

The final whodunnit is entirely up to you however. Even after following the game diligently and listening to everything twice, I still needed to pause before I made my guess. “Is this too obvious a guess?”, “But what about this character”, “This person is definitely lying”.

Thankfully, I guessed correctly! *flex* but more on that later!

The Story

A body is found at Stanley’s Diner a little after 2am – it is the head waitress, Janice! With only 5 people in the diner at the time of death, there aren’t a lot of suspects. But the most curious thing is that this murder bears a striking resemblance to another, only a week earlier. Do we have a serial killer on the loose? Gather the evidence, interview the suspects, and make an arrest.

The Experience

Like all of the Scarlet Envelope games, the experience begins when you receive a mysterious red envelope through your letterbox! Breakfast for a Serial Killer is packed! It contains a lot of material for such a small envelope – especially when compared to Distress Call from Outer Space which is largely online.

You receive a menu, an autopsy report, instructions, suspect profiles, and a few mysterious items found on the body. Elsewhere are three pieces of ‘further evidence’ that you mustn’t open until prompted. To get started, you head online and begin your investigation – ergo, interviewing the suspects!

This game is a little like the videogame “L.A. Noire” (set later and not in L.A. of course). One of the key mechanics in L.A. Noire is the facial mapping of actors telling the truth and lying. Players must literally look for subtle clues as to who is telling the truth. Breakfast for a Serial Killer does a similar thing in it’s video interviews!

I really, really enjoyed the watching the interviews and spent wayy too long rewinding parts to be like “oh this character touched their face when they said this! They must be lying“. It makes you feel like a real detective! People, after all, are the greatest puzzle to be solved!

At the time of writing, only two suspects have video performances. The other three are audio-only. I don’t know if the creators have plans to add more video content but it would be a super nice touch to see in the future!

At the end of each video, you also receive a sample of additional evidence – items each suspect has in their pockets: A bus ticket, some coins, a leaflet, that sort of thing. The game then prompts a question which you must answer by inputting a password before you can proceed.

The Puzzles

For me, Breakfast for a Serial Killer errs on the side of “ok this wasn’t too hard”. I say this having found every other game in the series quite challenging! There are less puzzles per se, and the game relies more on your powers of deduction as to who is lying, what is possible in the time and who has a believable alibi.

That said, there are still quite a few fun things to solve. In particular, I enjoyed one of the first puzzles in the game which required cutting things out to reveal a hidden message. It was creative and creepy, just like the sort of message a real serial killer would leave!

Other puzzles players can expect to come across include ones involving maths, some colour-based visual puzzles, some very cool dingbats, a cipher and more! There’s a good mix, but this is definitely a game for people who enjoy the logic of solving crimes more than the nitty gritty of puzzle after puzzle.

Whodunnit

So as mentioned, I guess correctly! Yay! To correctly ‘solve’ the murder, I’d advise really paying attention to everything. Not everything is important, but when the outro video explains it all there were quite a few “OHH!! WOW!!” moments where I’d missed some clue that made so much sense when spelled out.

Everyone has a good motive and all the suspects were acting very funny at the time of the death, but it’s important to remember the details of the crime itself too… This is me trying not to give a spoiler, but also trying to give some useful advice to budding detectives after me!

I guess the most important thing is to have fun though! The game will still let you proceed even if you guess incorrectly so don’t sweat it if you’re wrong.

Overall

In conclusion, great fun! I love murder mystery and this ticks that box in a refreshing, unique and creative way. I definitely don’t play as many murder mystery games as I’d like, but enjoying this as much as I did has given me some new found inspiration to go play more!

Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.

@theescaperoomer

today I played Scarlet Envelope’s 4th game and here’s how I got on..head to my site to win a free copy! #escaperoom #scarletenvelope #competition

♬ Theme from “Sherlock Holmes” – Movie Sounds Unlimited

Scarlet Envelope: Distress Call from Outer Space | Review

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The year is 2220, a century into human colonization of Mars. Times are different but Humans remain the same: two planets are in constant political conflict. Unexpectedly, your space ship picks up a distress call from a Martian spy. The spy has discovered the secret that could stop the upcoming war! Now, encrypted Martian files are in your hands, together with the future of Earth and Mars.

Rating: Outstanding!
Completion Time: 1 hour
Date Played: 29th April 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: People who want more interesting post through their letterbox, and especially fans of sci-fi!

📢 ANNOUNCEMENT 📢

You can win a copy of Distress Call from Outer Space from now until May 5th by heading to our competition page. Good luck!!

I LOVE SCI-FI! And… If there’s one particular genre of sci-fi I love the most, it’s the very specific sub-genre where we’ve colonised Mars but then Mars splits from Earth in a dramatic war of independence. Yeahh… It’s kinda The Expanse vibes, but you know what else fits into this genre? Scarlet Envelope: Distress Call from Outer Space! And I LOVE IT. They don’t call me mairispaceship for no reason!*

Actually that’s a whole other story- when I was a young kid I was gutted everyone else in my class had a middle name and I didn’t, so I told my teachers it was Spaceship. Mairi Spaceship. Someone must have believed me because until I reached high school all my official documents said “Mairi Spaceship” on them, my parents just rolled with it and I hang onto it even today.

So onto the game! I played Distress Call over my lunch break at work and then again finished off the grand finale before dinner that same evening. It’s equal parts an exciting escape room in an envelope, and a whodunnit mystery that must be unravelled carefully.

The Story

You are an employee of SHD&CO on a routine trip through space, when you suddenly intercept a distress call from the great beyond! If you remember SHD&CO from Scarlet Envelope’s first experience, this is where we found out the organisation is employed in the repair of used spaceships and parts for sale. Basically, normal space stuff. But, as an obligation to the interplanetary laws of space, you must answer the distress signal and do what you can to help.

What follows is a twisty space opera that puts you in the crosshairs of an intergalactic war on the verge of going nuclear. It’s your job to figure out who is behind the deadly threat and more importantly figure out who you can trust!

The Experience

So far, this is my favourite Scarlet Envelope experience for sure, but what I love most about is how intuitive it feels. First, you log into your work portal – after solving a quick puzzle to remember your password, of course! From here you intercept the distress call and the game takes a very non-linear format. From here, you can ‘solve’ anything in any order to reach the end goal.

The game is around 40% what you see in your envelope and 60% what you can find online. Put simply, the items in your possession are objects you’d have in your ship – your ID card, star maps of the local area. But the year is 2220 after all! To crack this case you’ll need to scour the alternate reality through the medium of the internet – read articles, hack communications, learn the Martian language, and contact the authorities for help.

The other thing to mention is that this game has one of the slickest online interfaces I’ve ever seen- genuinely! It feels like you’re stepping into the future and everything is just so shiny and responsive! Wow! Yes, yes… I think playing “at home games” in lockdown has made me a web-layout snob. That or I grow tired of a simple “puzzle then password box” interface. This takes it up so many notches you’re no longer sure what is real and what isn’t. I’m impressed!

At the very end, in order to ‘win’, you must answer a series of questions to see how well you’ve been paying attention. It helps therefore to take notes as you go- a piece of advice I DID NOT follow, and so got one question incorrect. However even with one wrong, the game still lets you proceed.

The Puzzles

I find Scarlet Envelope to be on the harder side, and Distress Call from Outer Space is no exception. I think I used around 3 or 4 clues and needed to check my answer once. But I did find this game a huge step up in terms of signposting from their previous two, which makes all the difference!

Players can expect to encounter a fun mix of puzzles – some I’d never seen before and some familiar faces, such as ciphers, sudokus, and map puzzles! But overall, plenty to do! I didn’t formally time myself but with a half an hour lunch break and a bit of extra time at the end of the day I came in at around 1 hour but that hour was packed. I was cutting, folding, measuring, and holding things up to the light a-plenty.

My favourite puzzle revolved around trying to disprove something, towards the end. When presented with information you’ve been collecting throughout the game, there’s an instance where you need to make a decision. But first you must figure out what is possible and disprove the impossible. It was fun seeing parts come together, being like “ohh thats why the game made me figure this fact out”.

Other Cool Things

  • This game comes with a suitably space-y playlist. That is, if you can find it in the game!
  • Each chapter in the Scarlet Envelope universe is connected – there’s a bonus hidden puzzle in each game that when solved will give you a letter. Combine all letters once you’re finished to unlock something extra special!

Overall

This was a stand out experience and I’m really stoked to have played. In fact, just as soon as I finished it I turned to my partner (occasional player 2 on this blog) and practically forced him to play it too. “You LOVE space, cmon!”. I think this game worked fine in a team of 1 but would be even better in a team of 2, 3, or even 4 if you have enough people with you.

Don’t forget, I’m hosting a contest with Scarlet Envelope right now where you can win a game of your choice! Enter here! But if you can’t wait that long, you can subscribe to Scarlet Envelope for $20 CAD (~£12) per month on their website.

Enigma Fellowship: The Submerged Sentinel

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An experimental submarine, the ISS Sentinel, carrying a revolutionary new energy device and the world’s leading scientific experts has missed several scheduled check-ins. The Enigma Fellowship has been contacted for help. Given the lives and scientific knowledge at stake your mission is to not only find the submarine but also rescue the crew.

Rating: Tricky!
Completion Time: 2.5+ hours
Date Played: 4th April 2021
Party Size: 1
Recommended For: Folks who want a challenge at home!

Okay so first things first… I genuinely think I’m not smart enough for Enigma Fellowship sometimes *nervous sweating*. Which is why this game took me well over 2 hours (the website recommends 180 minutes… ok ok so not too terrible), but I did take several breaks and used way too many hints. But long story short, this one for me, was a real challenge. You can check out my experience of the earlier games in the series here:

  • The Lost Knowledge – played it in December 2020 and had a pretty good run with it! Don’t remember using too many hints and we aced it in under 2 hours
  • The Scattered Cards – a post-Christmas murder mystery and tricky, but not impossible!

For a first in the Enigma Fellowship series I tackled this one was a team of 1, sitting down on a sunny Sunday morning (Easter, no less!) around the table with a couple of snacks. So here’s how the game went…

The Story

The best thing about The Submerged Sentinel is the story – it’s so exciting! The game(s) have the unusual style of second person narrative “you open this, you are surprised, you hear a letter through your door” but from start to finish I found myself gripped and wanting to know what happens next. The ending too… Ahh, it’s hard to talk about it without giving too much away, but gosh! That twist! I love a twisty ending, and this escape game has buckets of twists.

A mysterious letter arrives and due to the sensitive nature of the information, all the steps you need to take are hidden carefully. First, you must access a login, and from there you must travel to board the EMS Investigator ship to search for the submerged sentinel and unravel the mystery.

The Experience

Enigma Fellowship games are played with a combination of physical paper material and an online interface. You start with an envelope and by scanning QR codes access each of the ‘areas’ with a password you must input online. Most envelopes contain even further envelopes to be opened, giving the sense of gatekeeping between each puzzle and making sure you pace yourselves appropriately with the story.

It’s extra exciting opening a new envelope and rummaging through the things you find inside, and genuinely I think it’s pretty close to a real life escape room experience with more than one area… You find a key, unlock a door, and boom! So many more puzzles.

The Puzzles

The Submerged Sentinel has an 80% difficulty warning on their website and they’re not wrong. I chatted to a fellow reviewer the other day about a few games we had differing opinions on the difficulty of… Sometimes puzzles just ‘click’ and other times you’re staring at something confused for hours. So whilst The Submerged Sentinel is probably not an objectively difficult game, I just couldn’t get my head it.

What I mean is, I think I used at least one hint on every puzzle and in more than one puzzle I had to ask for the answer. It’s a super good job the clue system is so detailed and robust. There are typically 3-10 ‘hints’ before finally giving the answer, so you’ll get the nudge you need!

One thing to highlight is that most of the puzzles in this game are multi-step. You spot something in the text, then convert it to something else, then flip something on it’s head, the fold something, then translate it back into something else and so on… This means there’s a lot to do per puzzle. I’m always impressed by such a small envelope (it fits through your letterbox and doesn’t feel heavy) contains SO MUCH CONTENT. In a content-per-page, Enigma Fellowship wins hands down! Fantastic value for money.

As a whole, players can expect to encounter some of the following types of puzzle: As it’s shipping themed, you bet you’ll need flag codes, semaphore, ciphers and Morse code! The envelope also comes with a black light which is used several times throughout the game in very clever ways (the second black light puzzle made me exclaim with delight when I figured out what to do!), there’s a couple of maths puzzles, and a few that also involve the use of maps. In short – a good mix. Again, there is so much to do.

Overall

I am always impressed by Enigma Fellowship and I think the creators Anuj and Orsi deserve all the praise in the world for the amazing series they’ve created. Each game is packed with love and care, and they really go the extra mile to listen to customer feedback and improve their games. Sure, I found this really hard, but heck sometimes I need a challenge! I’m becoming complacent in my old age *cough cough at my 25th birthday coming up* and I’ve gotta keep my wits sharp with a bit of submarine subterfuge.

The Submerged Sentinel can be purchased for $22 USD on Enigma Fellowship’s website here.