Scarlet Envelope – Envelope Three: Distress Call from Outer Space (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-3

Price: $20 monthly

Lost in Space


From the Scarlet Envelope website:

The year is 2220, a century into the human colonization of Mars. Humans remain the same: two planets are in constant political conflict. Your spaceship picks up a distress call from a Martian spy who has discovered how to stop the war! Now encrypted Martian files are in your hands, along with the fate of both Earth and Mars.

First Impressions:

I’ve gotta say, Canada has been knocking it out of the park lately with puzzling subscriptions. Scarlet Envelope is one of two fantastic monthly puzzling capers that I’ve picked up recently, and I have to say, they are quickly becoming some of my favorite mailings every month! With a brand new theme for every game, I really love seeing how the creators pivot from 1920’s mystery to sci-fi to horror and beyond!

High Points:

The thing I really loved about Envelope Three was how intuitive each puzzle was once you’d uncovered the requisite clues. Though the game certainly didn’t hold my hand, it did provide small clues within each puzzle to ensure that with the application of some critical thinking, the answers would reveal themselves during an excellent ah ha moment! The first half of the game flowed beautifully, with a beginning that had me scratching my head, but with just enough breadcrumbs to ensure I could find my way. One of my favorite puzzles came during the initial stages of the game, and cleverly disguised the method of solving, leaving the puzzle hidden in plain sight. Difficulty ramped up smoothly, and as the conundrums became more challenging, the ah ha moments became ever more satisfying! There are some real doozies further in, and the Experienced level games are perfect for battle hardened puzzle enthusiasts that really want a challenge. I adored one section that involved a ship’s computer, as I loved exploring the options and branching paths I could take, and the design of all the web based materials is really slick.

I’m still enamored with the overall theme of Scarlet Envelope, and am interested to see how all these time hopping good deeds I’m doing will pay off. As I mentioned before, it is awesome to receive a totally different theme from month to month, and I really love opening up new envelopes to see how these themes have been implemented. So far, Scarlet Envelope has done a top notch job ensuring that the story and puzzles are wonderfully woven into the game, and are engaging experiences, with no red herrings or puzzles that feel out of place or just there for the sake of puzzling. Though this is, I believe, (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong,) the designer’s first subscription puzzle experience, it feels like they’ve been making these forever, they’re so well designed!

Low Points:

My main critique for this particular episode is that while I understand why there is a lot of online content, due to the futuristic nature of the game, the non-linear nature of the mystery, coupled with how many branches there are for the online component, really convolutes the proceedings. I played this game over the course of two days, and it was really difficult to set back up to where I was since I essentially had to run back through everything. And when you take chaotic notes like I do… While I definitely appreciate the intent of what’s being done, a more linear approach would definitely provide a somewhat cleaner puzzling experience. The logic of one particular puzzle still eludes me, and the set up doesn’t quite have enough cluing to completely relate how the solutions are meant to line up. While I had the correct answers, it took a little more guess and check than we’d like to get the solution in order. This, joined with the solution requiring a bit of eyeballing to boot, created a situation where I was never quite sure if the answer I arrived at was truly correct, (until, of course, I verified the solution in the online component.)


I’m loving the journey that Scarlet Envelope has set us upon, and am looking forward to next month’s envelope, as number four promises to be right up my alley! I wholeheartedly recommend this subscription, as there’s a difficulty level for beginners and enthusiasts alike, and so much to love about the experience. Start your journey into the mysteries of the Scarlet Envelope here! The creators currently have a cool new Kickstarter on right now for Christmas Puzzle Cards here! You should check it, and their astoundingly funny outtakes video asap!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Scarlet Envelope provided a complementary review copy.