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Enigmida / A Few of My Favorite Games... (Part 2)

Enigmida / A Few of My Favorite Games... (Part 2)
By Matthew Stein • Issue #11 • View online
Hey folks, it’s been a while! Since my last newsletter (over a month ago - yikes!) I’ve been busy with a plethora of other writing, including some articles and interviews which I’m excited to share in coming weeks.
This issue is a continuation of the remote escape room recommendations guide I started in the previous issue. Last time included audio and live avatar games, and this part features mailed/physical puzzle experiences and print-and-play games.
Puzzle of the Week
When you figure out the answer, make sure to stay silent.
  • Rook shape (6)
  • Word before story or pepper (5)
  • Fender or Stratocaster (6)
  • ROY G. BIV, e.g. (8)
  • A young sheep (4)

Mailed Puzzle Experiences
How does it work?
You’re mailed some mysterious, puzzle-filled objects. This category includes a wide range of formats and mediums, and the best part often is exactly that: you don’t know quite what to expect until a mysterious package arrives on your doorstep. It might be a wax-sealed envelope, a rustic wooden crate, or even a pizza box. If you like longer form experiences and more tactile puzzling, these games are for you.
The creators I’m highlighting here all stand out for their innovative puzzle design styles. While I’ve also enjoyed more mass-market “escape room in a box” games, none of them quite hold up to the work of independent creators IMO.
Some of my favorite creators:
  • Society of Curiosities - Each episode of SoC’s quarterly subscription is absolutely delightful, filled with intricate handcrafted components. They have a wonderfully idiosyncratic way of weaving puzzling into immersive storytelling, coupled with exhilarating mini ARG trails.
  • PostCurious - The Tale of Ord (no longer available) is one of my all-time favorite narrative puzzle games, but PostCurious’ newest game The Emerald Flame is available for preorder now! I also recently playtested and was blown away by The Light in the Mist, a forthcoming tarot puzzletale collaboration with Jack Fallows of Cryptogram Puzzle Post.
  • Trapped Puzzle Rooms - I recently reviewed two games from the Trapped Takeout series - Taco Twosday and The Spielburger Box Set. These play-at-home puzzle hunts feature a generous serving size of food puns and lots of laser cut paper components.
  • DarkPark - Witchery Spell is one of the most thoroughly immersive at-home games I’ve played, with production value through the roof and really polished gameflow. Shipping prices from the Netherlands are a bit high, though DarkPark offers refill packs for all their games so you can share with another friend after playing.
  • Team Bluefish - I’ve really enjoyed the eclectically whimsical style of Team Bluefish’s games. Both the Elevator and the Stairs are slickly designed and full of clever puzzles, with the Stairs providing slightly more of a challenge.
Print-and-Play Games
How does it work?
You download and print a PDF containing much of the game content. You may need scissors and tape for assembling certain elements. Print-and-play games are often also accompanied by a web interface.
This print-and-play “escape room” genre is still be quite nascent, and it’s currently filled with a number of games targeted more at kids’ birthday parties than puzzle enthusiasts (though if you have a color printer and young kids, those can be great!) In contrast, the two companies I’m highlighting here present hour+ experiences with a greater emphasis on puzzling.
I also recently released my own print-and-play game, Escape the Plagues (which is playable all year round, not just during Passover!)
Some of my favorite creators:
  • ClueQuest - I’ve reviewed a ton of games by ClueQuest, and while the 8 Print + Cut + Escape games they’ve release vary in length and difficulty, they’re consistently highly innovative, clever, and beautifully illustrated.
  • CU Adventures - This Illinois escape room company released their print-and-play game The Lost Temple early on in the pandemic to well-deserved high acclaim. More in the mailed experiences category, I also very highly recommend their Solve Our Shirts game. It makes an excellent puzzly gift, too!
Solution to last issue's puzzle
GUR NAFJRE -> GUR(O)NA FJR(N)E. Gura ybbx bqqyl (ernq rirel bgure yrggre) gb trg GRNFRE, juvpu vf pbasvezrq ol “Ab fcbvyref!” (in ROT13)
Congrats to everyone who submitted the intended answer: Avery Monsen, Yossi, Jennifer Love, Tommy, Wassamatta_u, Will, Mark W, Theresa :whale:, Fro, Scott Weiss, Sean McB, and Cryptok.
A number of solvers also found alternate valid solutions for the first step (split and add a letter) or missed the second step (look oddly). Congrats are equally extended to: Sean M., Drew W and Kate L, George Boscoe, Gina Qin, LN, Richa Wadekar, Dawn Massie, Melinda, Josh Miller, Zarin Pathan, Maxwell Rollins, Luis, and Molly Kessler.
Cryptically yours,
Did you enjoy this issue?
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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