Scarlet Envelope Holiday Greeting Cards Review | Decipher Santa’s wish, solve multi-layered puzzles with Rudolf, THINK, and HAVE FUN!
Date Played: August 2023
Number of Players: 1
Time Taken: 20–30 minutes per card
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… 🎶
Okay, so here in the UK, it’s pretty warm right now… Something, something heatwave this, that and the other. But that won’t stop me from being excited about the coming festive season! And so, in true festive style, Scarlet Envelope have kicked off the season early with their launch of a new Kickstarter experience: Holiday Greeting Cards! For me, Christmas really is all about solving puzzles together. So it’s no understatement to say I was really excited to get my hands on these and get stuck in!
So, Christmas Cards and puzzles? What is this all about and how does it work?
Well, Scarlet Envelope’s new Kickstarter is for a suite of festive greeting cards. The cards are your traditional, beautifully illustrated festive scenes complete with wreaths, snow, and Santa Claus iconography (yes, I really did just say “Santa Claus Iconography”, haha). But, hidden inside each illustration, if you look really closely, are the puzzles! To guide you, inside each card is a poem. Most Christmas cards say something kitschy like “wishing you festive tidings for the year” and most people don’t even read them… But this poem instead provides subtly hinted clues as to where to start and what type of thing you’re looking for – whether that be a reindeer name, a secret message from a cat, or a sweet festive message. So pay close attention!
As puzzle games, they’re great! But as Christmas cards, they’re also gorgeous. So a pretty perfect gift for puzzle people and puzzle muggles alike! But how did we get on with them? Let’s get into it…
Your goal is to decipher Santa’s New Year’s wish hidden in a cheerful Christmas poem (the four words right before “And Happy New Year!”.)
Santa’s Wish is Scarlet Envelope’s first ‘Holiday Puzzle Card’, which is probably why you may already recognise the design. They launched this puzzle game a few years ago, and it’s enjoyed some success since then.
On the front of this card is a festive scene of ‘the night before Christmas’, with a roaring fireplace and stack of presents beneath the tree. Inside the card is a lovely poem about Christmas. But again, look closely and it holds the clue to solving the puzzles within. At it’s core then, there are four ‘puzzles’ and each one is looking for a single word output in order to complete the final line of a rather festive and puzzle-y poem. The puzzles are ‘hidden’ across the front, the back, and inside the card itself. The puzzles ranged from quick wins, to “okay I need a hint“, but overall this game fell on the more straightforward side – at least compared to some very outside the box thinking on the later cards in the series.
It’s a cute one, and a good introduction to the ‘series’. A few trickier moments pushed me into the hints section – but mostly to figure out if I was on the right track, or get a small nudge in the right direction.
Ho ho ho, welcome to your puzzle card adventure! To start, notice how the poem inside the card tells you that Junior Reindeer is about to begin his new job in Santa’s team. Six reindeer coworkers made a team-building puzzle game for him, with the answer being his new cool stage name. You can see the empty name tag with six letters waiting for you to fill them in!
In the second of the three puzzle cards, we turn to Santa’s workshop! Here, the senior reindeer have decided to take the day off. They’ve had enough! They’re on strike! *gasp* Thankfully there’s another reindeer who is able to fill in on the big night, but all he needs to start his job is a cool name. Taking a letter from each reindeer’s name gives him his new name – but which names, and which order?
In this puzzle card, there were a few additional steps more than in Santa’s Wish. Essentially, more puzzles to find and solve – one for each letter. But overall, these puzzles felt shorter and snappier than those in Santa’s Wish, meaning both cards took more or less the same time to solve. Most were traditional puzzles, but some took a more “outside the box” approach to figuring out the solution.
Funnily enough, I fell onto one puzzle first, which I later saw in the hints was the ‘most difficult’. This worked well for me to get the ‘hardest puzzle’ over with before diving into slightly easier ones.
For me, this one had the illustration I liked the most. I can’t tell you exactly why, it was just so bright and colourful and fun to spot the well-hidden details. Of which there were many! Or perhaps it’s just that I love big moons (and I cannot lie). Either way, out of the three, this will be the one I’ll place at the front of my festive mantlepiece when December comes round.
Alert, naughty kitty on the loose! This Christmas, Santa’s furry friend has decided to “redecorate” – lighting up the tree (literally), creating unique wall art with her claws, and snacking on tinsel like in an all-you-can-eat buffet. But why is this usually purr-fect kitty behaving so claw-fully? Can you figure out what will turn her back into the angelic furball she usually is? Dive into this hilariously cute adventure, and let the festive feline fun begin!
Last, but by no means least, is Scarlet Envelope’s most recent card named Clawy Christmas. This card features a rather mischievous cat! Imagine a beautiful home all ready for the holidays… Completely destroyed by the claws of a pesky kitty. Yeah. There’s a reason I’m more of a dog person. *shakes fist at fictional cat*. But paired with the scene of festive destruction is one of the cutest opening lines,
“Have all the holiday fun you can get away with”
Now, full disclaimer, I played this card just before the final artwork was finalised. So whilst I did have a tiny struggle – I realise that these minor qualms had already been addressed in the final art pass – which looks absolutely gorgeous I might say!
But that aside, these puzzles are certainly the most entry-level of the three. They’re well sign-posted, quick and easy solves, and involve fun interactions with the physicality of the shape of the card. There’s a playful narrative about the cat woven throughout the puzzles that culminates in a festive twist too. In all, I’d probably recommend this one more for an audience including kids and families – perhaps one for non-puzzle people to dip their toes into before jumping into the other two in the series.
Out of the three, this one was also my favourite, if that helps sway your opinions! 😉
One of my favourite things about all three cards – apart from the puzzles of course, was how lovingly illustrated they are. Although I played in August, each one felt fuzzy and warm and cosy as heck. I cannot stress enough how cute these are – even for non puzzle people. If these cards had zero puzzles inside them, I’d still love to buy some for friends and family because of how lovely they look on the mantlepiece. It really helps having a mix of fun puzzles, backed up by lovely illustrations. A round of applause for these!
But back to the puzzles… In some ways, having a little date stamp on the back reminding mewhich one was designed in 2020, which in 2022, and which now in 2023 was like a time capsule into Scarlet Envelope’s history. I am a really big fan of Scarlet Envelope. Not just as incredibly lovely and generous people, but also as talented puzzle designers and game creators. They’ve made one of my favourite games ever, and over the years they’ve made better and better games and puzzles. The way I played all three cards (in chronological order) reminded me of this, and it was like tracking a designer’s skill increasing over time.
So the verdict is, we love them! I would recommend these puzzle cards for just about anyone. They lean towards an easier puzzling-level, with a few real head-scratchers. They’d probably be appropriate for a particularly smart child, but as with all things Christmas, you’ll probably get the most out of them if you sit around with family and solve them together.
At the moment the Scarlet Envelope team is Kickstarting the three cards, so now is an excellent time to go ahead and back them if you want to see these (and I hope more in the future) come to life and made available to the general public.
If you want to purchase your own Puzzle Christmas Cards, you can back these directly on Kickstarter here. If you’re reading this after the Kickstarter has concluded, you should be able to find them directly on Scarlet Envelope’s website here.
Please Note: We were sent a complimentary preview copy of the Puzzle Christmas Cards. This does not affect the contents of our review.
Photos in this review are taken by us at The Escape Roomer. Please don’t use without permission! 🙂