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Players: We recommend 1-2
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From the S.O.U.P. Facebook page:
Is your mundane life bringing you down? Are you in a rut and looking for a way to break the monotony? Do the weird, unexplained, less than normal and downright bizarre interest you? If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, WE WANT YOU!
WELCOME TO THE SOCIETY FOR THE OBSERVATION OF UNKNOWN PHENOMENA!
We travel the world over ferreting out ideal candidates to join the ranks of the most esteemed society the world has ever known (. . . well, the world would know if it wasn’t such a well-kept secret!) Aside from a dandy acronym, S.O.U.P. offers intrigue, extensive travel to exotic places, the opportunity to research lost legends, investigate the unknown, and the promise of advancement. And in addition to all that, there is something sinister afoot behind the closed doors at S.O.U.P. headquarters, and you have been nominated to unravel the mystery and bring the culprit to justice.
After the more narrative based, horror filled experience that was Root of All Evil, I was interested to see how Crack-A-Nut Mysteries would approach a more puzzle focused adventure. With S.O.U.P. having just released, I would soon find out!
S.O.U.P.’s game play is divided up into several different assignments, all of which relate to a different supernatural hot spot, and present wildly varying puzzles, all of which are creatively designed and well thought out. All tie into an overall theme, and I really enjoyed how the ending was multi-pronged, allowing for not only induction into the Society itself, but the solving of a great crime against S.O.U.P.! All the assignments were an enjoyable romp, but the first assignment really started things off with a bang! I loved the props that were included within this one, and we really liked how there were many paths you could take with this multi-layered, choose your own adventure style puzzle. The writing was humorous, and really set the stage for the rest of the experience well. The difficulty curve was smooth, and ramped up excellently, leading to some really devious conundrums near the end which took a lot of pondering and connection making, but never strayed into the realm of logical leaps or obtuse challenges. Every assignment was self contained, and it was easy to ensure we knew what items went with what solutions, but the game certainly didn’t hold our hand.
A couple of nice keepsake items, one of which is personalized, are a fantastic addition, and really got my wife excited to try out the game, especially since I had recently asked her to take a photo and wouldn’t tell her what it was for. Other props that were integrated into the puzzling were excellent, with a few that had been aged beautifully in order to capture the look and feel of an ancient artifact. S.O.U.P.’s website is well designed to provide instant feedback on whether your answers for each assignment are correct, and the set up for one of the final meta puzzles is really awesome. Overall, the experience we had with S.O.U.P. was immensely enjoyable, and the run of creative, multi-layered puzzles made for an excellent few hours of solving.
One particular assignment took us a very long time to get. Unfortunately, it ended up being a particular task that you’ll either get, or you won’t, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do to ensure you see what you need to see. It doesn’t help that the answer does not follow some of the previous conventions, so we were trying to find the wrong thing. Luckily, since the alternative was to stare at what we’d gathered until the answer revealed itself, we were able to look up the solution on the hint site. Definitely not as satisfying, but it did save us a lot of time, and allowed us to move on. At first, we did not realize the website was required for verification of answers and to finish up the story, as we thought it was only for hints, per our intro letter. However, as we did need to look up a few hints about halfway through, we realized the site was multi-functional. One of the finale metas was somewhat anticlimactic, resulting in doing some simple math, but luckily the other meta was much more satisfying.
S.O.U.P. was an awesome time, and we really loved the intuitive puzzling, humorous writing, and fantastic ending to the story. The assignments are well thought out, and are intuitive, yet challenging, ensuring that puzzle enthusiasts and new players alike will find a lot to love inside. Crack-A-Nut Mysteries continues to provide premium props and a story that is joy to interact with, and I definitely recommend giving this game a shot! Join the Society for the Observation of Unknown Phenomena here!
Full Disclosure: Crack-A-Nut Mysteries provided a complementary copy.