The Enigma Emporium Presents: “Wish You Were Here” (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 2-4

Price: $15.00

Having a great time, wish you were here!

Theme:

You, a well known codebreaker and private detective, have been sent a envelope of mysterious post cards, the first of which is a taunt from a highly confident criminal, and the rest seem to be full of cryptic messages or the garbled ranting of an incoherent madman. It’s up to you to determine which, and follow the leads wherever they may take you!

First Impressions:

Compared to other mystery mailers and boxes we’ve received, this one seemed very slight. With the main experience containing five postcards (kickstarter backers get a special sixth epilogue card,) we weren’t expecting it to take overlong. Appearances can be deceiving however, as with an average of 4-5 puzzle on each, there’s quite a few puzzles to explore within each postcard.

High Points:

There’s definitely a good 1-2 hours of puzzling involved with the cards depending on your experience level, and for the most part, once you surmount the initial learning curve, the game flow rolls along pretty well. An excellent hint page is set up to help should you get stuck, though in our case, we decided to plow through as many enigmas as we could, and sweep up the leftovers later. This seemed to work pretty well, and the hints gave us a good push to get us back on track for the most part. Each postcard works within an intuitive theme, and makes researching the puzzles and figuring out how they interact with each other a delight. In fact, some of the initial puzzles we solved deliver some really awesome ah ha moments, proving that with even a few simple props, The Enigma Emporium can provide an amazingly satisfying solving experience.

My favorite postcard, for example, is the science based card. Working through it flows so perfectly, as each puzzle stays within a concise theme and hints each other one phenomenally. Some clues are cleverly buried, but when everything clicks it does so in such an intuitive fashion, it feels as if the pieces of a jigsaw are falling together perfectly within your mind. The storyline for the experience is fairly standard mystery fare, but reveals itself at pace perfect for keeping your attention fastened to the cards. The final system for solving the mystery is fantastically done, and finishing the meta puzzle is climatic and gratifying.

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6 cards, infinite* puzzling possibility! (Infinite puzzles not guaranteed.)

Low Points:

Anyone who knows me (or has talked to me about puzzles for longer than five mintues,) knows that I abhor process puzzles. It’s unhealthy, really. There are a few contained within Wish You Were Here, and luckily, most of them are painless. However, one puzzle was painfully similar to one from Dispatch by Breakout’s On the Run series. This style puzzle really kicked off my hatred of process puzzles, so seeing it and knowing what we had to do was a bummer. Luckily, it was nowhere near as ubiquitous and mind numbing as Dispatch’s version, but at the same time, that particular postcard felt like a slog during an otherwise brisk run of ah ha producing puzzles. While most of the puzzles included were fairly consistent, there was one in particular that felt overly random, lost within a sea of red herrings. The only other gripe we had was that one style of puzzle tended to show up overly often, losing it’s luster rather quickly even though it was dressed within differing riddles.

Verdict:

Wish You Were Here is a fun experience for intermediate to veteran puzzle solvers. I feel like most folks who are new to code breaking games or puzzle hunts will get lost quickly, but the sweet spot of difficulty will challenge those who have enjoyed this type of mystery before. (And have a code sheet handy!) I recommend this one as a gift to the mystery game lover in your life, (especially if that’s yourself!) and for the price, these jam packed postcards cannot be beat! Get lost in the mystery here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Enigma Emporium provided a complementary envelope.

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