Ashes of Persepolis Review | Travel to Ancient Greece to solve a mystery of Persepolis, the priceless Persian city burned to ashes by Alexander the Great. The hero’s secrets are interwoven into an intricate puzzle guarded by Olympian Gods and an all-seeing Oracle. Only the mightiest can read Oracle’s cards to find out what really happened in Persepolis.
Completion Time: 1hr30
Date Played: February 2023
Party Size: 3
I have been waiting a very, very long time for a game that’ll pique the interest of my partner. You see: they’re not really into puzzle games. Their idea of a good time is a museum or two with a pub break in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, that sounds excellent, but after our museum and pub trips I love nothing more than sitting down to a puzzle or two. Anyway, there’s a good reason I play a lot of at-home escape rooms solo. That was until the wonderful duo behind Scarlet Envelope announced their latest game: Ashes of Persepolis.
Historical? Yay! Ancient Greece? Woohoo! Absolutely drop dead gorgeous graphics? Check, check, double check.
But why do I bring up my partner? Well, they studied this very topic at university for their Undergraduate and Masters. In short, I had a veritable expert playing next to me, and one just as enthusiastic for a game as I was!
History and Mythology Come to Life
In Ashes of Persepolis, we found ourselves completely immersed in the part-fiction, part-truth world of Ancient Greece. Similarly, the story of Ashes of Persepolis spares no detail. Throughout this game we experienced a captivating tale set in ancient Greece that weaved together myth and history to create a rich and immersive, puzzle filled world. The game is based on the mystery surrounding the burning of Persepolis, the Persian city that was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.
Some Scarlet Envelope chapters are material-light and online-heavy, and others the opposite way around. In this one, there was a perfect balance. The envelope is thick, weighty, and filled with some of the prettiest little things you’ve ever seen. Peculiar, triangular shaped oracle cards, an enormous map of Ancient Greece on one side and stars on the other, and a few other trinkets that come into play as the game progresses. The game spares absolutely no detail, and is so gorgeous looking I’m genuinely considering hanging the map of Ancient Greece on my wall – yes! Really!
This story unfolds not just via the puzzles but also through cinematic content. You see, between each puzzle was a short, well put together video which revealed a little more of our strange quest each time. The videos add a sense of drama and intrigue, and provide a welcome respite between puzzles to sit back and relax. To play this game, we also Googled “Ancient Greek covers of modern songs” and let me tell you there are some fantastic ones out there. In short, the scene was set, candles lit, and we were well and truly immersed.
It’s all Greek to Me…
Once we got stuck in, we particularly enjoyed doing unexpected things with the physicality and unique shapes of the oracle cards – though no spoilers here. You’ll have to play the game if you want to see exactly what I mean! My favourite of the puzzles was probably the one involving the aforementioned map of Ancient Greece, or a particular little delight moment whilst on the Artemis card (unsurprising, as they’re my favourite of the Greek gods). Each puzzle felt like a step forward in uncovering the mystery of Persepolis, and the video segments that followed were a great reward for solving them.
In terms of puzzles, well… This game was hard. Maybe the most difficult of the series yet. We also found the game to be slightly front-weighted in terms of difficulty, with the first few giving us the most difficulty. As the game unfolded, we found our rhythm eventually and it mellowed out from “wait, what?!” to a comforting level of challenging. If I had to give exact reasons why I believe we struggled (and I probably should, given this is a review), I’d say the following:
- When ordering your Scarlet Envelope you get to choose between easy or difficult. Though I’ve never confirmed with the creators (I fear their answer might be the opposite of what I expect), I assume I’m getting the difficult edition.
- Our third player was brand new to not just Scarlet Envelope, but tabletop puzzle games in general
- The lighting was low, and this game has a lot of small finnicky parts
- We lost one of the parts
Yes… You read that last one right.
Annoyingly, on the very first playthrough we lost a very important item – the item that would take us to the clues page. Emphasis on: We lost. It’s not impossible to solve without it, but we got very, excruciatingly, frustratingly stuck. We managed to bypass the clues page with a little guesswork and a little help from others, but came up against another issue when something else on that missing item proved to be vital to the gameplay. So we skipped that puzzle to the best that we could, and played on.
It was only a whole three days later when I finally found the missing piece. I can only assume it had fallen out when I first opened the envelope, and been brushed underneath a piece of furniture, because boy did we look at the time. Funnily enough the missing item was a coin. Where did I find it? Nestled against a few actual coins. I think my apartment is a ‘coin sink’ and somehow managed to suck in this pretend coin along with it. Hah.
I only mention it as – if it seems like we struggled on this game, it’s probably got more to do with my own losing of a vital piece. But thankfully the support team replied immediately (despite being in a very different time zone) and did their best to help at short notice. But if you’re reading this review and looking for advice before you start playing, my advice is: don’t lose anything.
Sure, but if we struggled so much – why do we still rate this game so highly? Well, its a very good game. What you get for the price with Scarlet Envelope is second to none, and Ashes of Persepolis might be one of their best looking tabletop experiences yet. I admire everything Scarlet Envelope create, and they’ve once again outdone themselves with Ashes of Persepolis. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
In terms of who we’d recommend this for… Probably only for more seasoned puzzlers – it’s better played as a part of the full Scarlet Envelope series, so by the time you get to this chapter you’re familiar with how the games work. Maybe invite your favourite history buff along (it helps, especially with the Greek language in the game), for the best experience.
In all, another solid addition to the Scarlet Envelope series.
Ashes of Persepolis can be purchased by heading to Scarlet Envelope’s website here.