Ellusion Adventure Games – The Labyrinth: Prequel Puzzles (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $18 for the Prequel Pack (Reviewed here), $195 for the Standard Edition of The Labyrinth, and $275 for the Deluxe Edition (Fancy!)

Twists and turns

Theme:

From the The Labyrinth Kickstater:

A crate full of unique physical puzzles, and the story of a lost civilization. Solve the puzzles. Find the treasure. Escape the maze. The Labyrinth is a unique multi-platform experience unlike any other – a combination of an escape room, puzzle hunt, mystery novel, and alternate reality game. You will receive a crate full of everything you need to participate in the challenge from the comfort of your home, including engaging physical hands-on puzzles, puzzle boxes, an online forum, models, photos, printed maps, tools, and ciphers. The goal of the challenge is to move through the rooms of a mythical labyrinth, solve the different clues in each room, and advance to the  center. Each puzzle leads into the next,  and to solve them all,  you will need to think outside of the box!

First Impressions:

The Labyrinth Puzzle Challenge appeared on Kickstarter in July, and was immediately intriguing. Promising to be filled with physical puzzles, and strange items, it certainly had my attention. After speaking with the creators, they asked if I’d be interested in trying out their prequel packet, which, of course I was!

High Points:

I didn’t quite know what to expect going in to the Prequel Pack for The Labyrinth. I knew there would be a run of puzzles, and a few artifacts to toy with, but upon opening up the pack, I was immediately drawn to one item in particular. As I had opened the package a few days in advance, I was chided multiple times for puzzling over it before we were meant to begin working on the puzzles. It was just too cool not to play with! Of course, this item was solved well in advance, but luckily it wasn’t a timed experience, so I can’t be faulted for, say, not listening to the intro and starting to solve puzzles around an escape room. Which I’ve never done, definitely not. This is all to say that the tactile interactions that are included within this pack are great, and I always love when an original design like this is included within these sorts of games. Obvious care has been taken to ensure that each prop is not only well designed, but fits into the lore of the game, and at no point did I feel like any of the puzzles we were solving were included as filler or “because puzzle box.” I really enjoyed digging up the subtle lore of the adventure as we solved, and once we finished up the experience and checked our answers with the designers, a great denouement and lead in to the full adventure was included, further piquing my interest in the full Labyrinth experience.

The puzzles are a good taster for Ellusion Adventure Games design sensibilities, and I feel like their logical style flowed well throughout the experience. There was a complete freedom in what we would work on at any time, with a completely non-linear experience that directed towards one final meta-puzzle to tie everything together. The adventure was of a more advanced difficulty, and while we did have a few critiques here and there, the overall mystery was challenging without being obtuse or frustrating. There is some googling, and while that can be very hit or miss with us, the inclusion within this experience does present some nice “reality blending,” heightening immersion and keeping players engaged within the world-building. I think enthusiasts will have a lot of fun working through this set of puzzles, as it definitely appeals to those seeking a somewhat higher challenge, but the hint system is well set up to ensure that even those newer to the puzzling hobby will be able to have a good time solving at their own pace.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle could use a mite bit more direction. It feels like it could go several places, depending on how it is interpreted, so I didn’t really feel confident in the solve for a while. Eventually we got there, but it felt a little bit like we were guessing and checking rather than putting together the clues to come to a solution. One late game puzzle had several steps to follow, but the very first was somewhat vaguely worded, making the rest of the solve tenuous. A particular important item for this solve was also difficult to read, so it might help for future versions of this prop to be printed in a somewhat more high definition manner. One interaction is super cool, but wasn’t precise enough to direct us precisely, so there was a bit more guess and check involved with this item. The ending of the puzzle set wasn’t 100% clear to us, but I think that was more a symptom of these being prototypes, rather than the full experience, so I’m sure this will be clearer once everything has been finalized.

Also, the Goblin King doesn’t make an appearance. Wrong Labyrinth, I suppose.

Verdict:

The Labyrinth’s Prequel puzzles are very creative, and though there are a few spots that felt just a bit too vague, the experience is, on the whole, extremely creative and a blast to work through. It is especially cool to see how well designed the props, lore, and puzzles are for this ambitious project, and I look forward to seeing how Ellusion Adventure Games continues to evolve! I recommend checking out the prequel pack, and should that pique your interest, upgrade to the full adventure! Begin your journey into the Labyrinth here!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Ellusion Adventure Games provided a complementary sample pack.

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