Saturday, May 22, 2021

Boardgame - The Hincks Gazette - Bluefish Games

"♫ I read the news today, oh boy... "


Ace & Anna Ellet
# of Players:
? (I'd say 10+)
60-120 min (no actual time limit)
Weight (Physical Components):
5 g
Weight (Puzzle Tallies):
1 Lock, 6-10 Deductions, 6-7 Tasks

Game Design & Mechanics

Sample headline (from the publisher's website)
Showing more would spoil too much...

  • I won't be spoiling much by pointing out that "The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks" includes Issue 1 of "The Hincks Gazette", a single-sheet newspaper filled with puzzles, both obvious and hidden. Team Bluefish took that concept and just rolled with it, turning the Gazette into a monthly game that you can subscribe to. As I write this, it's been going on for almost a year and a half.
  • Every month, you'll receive this single, folded broadsheet of newspaper paper.
  • The game mechanics are also similar to the boxed games, as you need to access the company's website to get hints and/or validate your solution.
  • The general process is always the same: take a look at the newspaper, looking for something you could readily solve. The solution of the first puzzle will guide you to the next, and so on, until you finally have a final keyword to enter on the website.
  • While the subcription model is the one most advertised, it's also also possible (although slightly more expensive) to order back issues. (While you can't combine shipping costs, there is a "pick any 2" option that is actually cheaper than the monthly subscription.) Both subscription and back-issue purchases include worldwide shipping.
  • The overall sense of cleverness that can be found in the boxed games is definitely present here, too. The puzzles are relatively varied, well-clued, and enjoyable.
  • Humor is also omnipresent, not only in the headline article, but also in all the puzzles and features.
  • As my tallies suggest, while these are officially "a couple hours max", there still is a lot to do in those. I played with 2 friends, and although it's true that we were playing very casually and avoiding hints as much we could, we ended up feeling that a Gazette could easily fill an evening.
  • Once again ūü§∑‍♂️, it's hard for me to readily encourage spending ~9$Cdn for what is essentially a single sheet of paper (albeit a sizeable one). But then again, it's not an unreasonable amount either, considering that it includes postage and that you shouldn't get any extra charges.
    Honestly, I'm not sure what would really satisfy me, here... being able to buy a whole year at once, at reduced cost? Some "partner program" allowing local ER companies to sell older Gazettes in their venues?
  • Technically speaking, I don't believe these would really count as "Escape Rooms in a Box" (or it is a book, then? I can't even justify why it wouldn't be a book), unless you treated an entire year's worth of them as one single game... And even then, I'm sure that people who care about physical components won't feel fully satisfied by a dozen newspaper pages.

Currently Out (underline bold titles are those I've read personally)
  • Issues 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Volume 2, Issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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