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Enigmida - 100 Escape Room Reviews

Enigmida - 100 Escape Room Reviews
By Matthew Stein • Issue #12 • View online
An escake is “a celebratory delicacy used to mark the completion of a milestone escape room, traditionally cake.” While I’ve played well over 100 escape rooms, I recently had my 🍰 for a new milestone: I’ve reviewed 100 online escape rooms for Room Escape Artist’s Hivemind!
In this issue, I share some reflections from this past year of reviews, plus an interview with the co-creator of The Truth About Edith.
💯 “Puzzle” of the Week 💯
This issue’s “puzzle” is more of a creative question, for which there is no right or wrong answer. What is something you have at least 100 of? Bonus points for unique responses!

Reflections on 100 Reviews
Throughout 20,000+ words and countless hours not just playing games but also obsessing over how to present constructive, meaningful, nonredundant critique of each, my work as a reviewer has consumed a sizeable chunk of this past year. You can read everything I’ve written for Room Escape Artist here.
Some of the reviews I’ve most enjoyed writing include (in the order published):
While the Hivemind’s capsule reviews generally stay around 100 words per person, I occasionally write longer reviews when elements in a game lead to more broadly applicable learnings. In each of the above reviews, the game/show being reviewed served as a case study to discuss specific puzzle or experience design principles, and the review became part of the distributed dialogue around the evolution and maturation of these relatively new game mediums.
As both designer and enthusiast, I approach the games I play through a multifaceted lens. Naturally, fun is still a top goal, but I equally value experimentation. I’d much sooner play a game that takes lots of design risks, even if it’s not perfectly polished or 100% successful in what it’s trying to accomplish, than something formulaic and unadventurous in its design.
As a reviewer, I’ve added a third perspective into the mix with the question: who would enjoy this game, even if it’s not me? Critiquing games not just from a somewhat jaded, occasionally over-academic viewpoint has allowed me to grow as a designer as well, and I’ve learned so much from the perspectives of the other Hivemind reviewers, especially when they differ from my own.
When my first Hivemind review went live last June, I had no idea just quite what I was getting myself into. I’ve truly enjoyed my first 100 reviews, and especially as it’s becoming possible to visit in-person escape rooms and immersive theater again, I’m beyond excited for the next 100.
P.S. Congrats to my fellow Hiveminder Theresa W who also just hit 100 reviews! 🎂🐳
In Conversation with Mad Genius Escapes
I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Lewis, co-owner of Mad Genius Escapes in Portland, OR, and co-creator of The Truth About Edith. We chatted about asymmetrical gameplay (i.e. each player has different information or different controls) and how the puzzles, acting, and tech in Edith developed.
We also put together a step-by-step code lab for building a multiplayer web game using Socket.IO and Node.js.
You can find the full interview and the code lab over on Room Escape Artist.
Solution to last issue's puzzle
[In ROT13] Gur pyhrf fbyir gb PNFGYR, TUBFG, THVGNE, ZARZBAVP, naq YNZO. Nf uvagrq ng ol “znxr fher gb fgnl fvyrag,” rnpu bs gurfr jbeqf pbagnvaf bar fvyrag yrggre, juvpu va beqre fcryy gur svany nafjre GUHZO.
Nf GUHZO nyfb unf n fvyrag yrggre, V nyfb npprcgrq gur yrggre O nf n svany nafjre (ol nccylvat gur zrpunavp bar ynfg gvzr.)
V ubcr lbh tnir guvf chmmyr n GUHZOf hc! ;)
Congrats to all the solvers: Sandy Weisz, Will, Michael Andersen, Jonathan Sheffi, Fro, Vivien, Scott Weiss, Laila C Goodman, Joe K, Andrew E, Sean McB, Kevin S, Tommy, Fez, Aiden Guinnip, Greg Schechter, Conor D, Melinda, Mark Wurzelbacher, Elliot T, Andrew Reynolds, Gina Q, Yossi, River Sol, and Nature Hikers.
Cryptically yours,
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Matthew Stein

I'm an Oakland, CA-based puzzle and alternate reality game designer. I create experiences that guide participants to connect through play and to find wonder in the mundane.

In this newsletter, I share behind-the-scenes content, puzzle design thoughts, project updates, and other miscellaneous whimsy I think puzzle lovers will enjoy.

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