The Hincks Gazette (Vol 1, Issue 2 to 7) • Bluefish Games • Puzzle Mail Subscription Service Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: United States
💪 Difficulty: Not specified.
⏲️ Time duration: 1 to 2 hours per issue.
🔢 Capacity: 1 to 2 players.
💬 Hints: Available via online hints page. Hints are self-paced and revealed in a stepwise fashion.
🛒 If you PURCHASE/SUBSCRIBE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): Up to 7/10 (solo play), a comfortable 5/10 (team of 2).
🔢 Ideal team size: 2, with specific caveat of each player's having their own Gazette copy.
"Hello, Puzzler. I'm Mr. Hincks. Are you up for a challenge? Excellent. Subscribe to my Mysterious Puzzle Newspaper and I'll mail it right to your door. Grab a pen and maybe a friend, and spend an hour or two puzzling out its secrets. You may just add your name to the Hincks Hall of Fame! Until then!" - Stephen P. Hincks
IN A NUTSHELL
If you fancy so, try to make sense out of Stephen Hincks's signature nonsense! A monthly newspaper delivered from Hincksville to your home (possibly by carrier quails), filled with nothing but fake news* and, of course, hidden puzzles--so many hidden puzzles--for your reading and gaming pleasures. (*The good kind!)
One of the most memorable moments in "The Curious Elevator Of Mr. Hincks", "The Hincks Gazette" is a direct continuation of the same publication, but bigger and better: Literally, the newspaper now spans longer in length and width, granting America's most eccentric puzzler even more dedicated space to spill his either incredibly silly or insanely genius babble.
The overall game play format is simple and intuitive, prompting readers to find and solve hidden puzzles within the handful of sections. Solution from one part becomes a clue that leads to the next, so on so forth, until players' ultimately landing on the one grand final text answer, which then can be verified online.
Even just upon completing the first standalone issue, one thing stood crystal clear, the puzzle makers doubled down on an never-ending quest to uncover just how limited my vocabulary range really is. I thought I knew enough words to get through life, but apparently not nearly enough in Hincksville, USA.
As such, before when gaming solo, sometimes these word-based puzzles come to a gridlock and require hints to move on... until I started playing with my partner as a duo. With a recently added option to obtain a pair of Gazettes, one copy for each player, this has changed the entire game! The only reason why I never played in two is because it's difficult to pass one newspaper back and forth--an issue (newspaper pun unintended) of the past, now addressed and resolved.
Having played half a dozen issues so far, I have experienced evolution of puzzle design: it's heading in a direction that is more mainstream-audience friendly, with a difficulty more manageable by most. It's also eliminated the slightest logic leaps that were occasionally present in earlier issues.
Bonus: Sign up for the *free* email list (at the very bottom of website)! Every Friday, a challenge representative of what you'd see on the Gazette is sent out through an email blast. First to submit a correct solution will have their name immortalized in an upcoming Gazette, a goal I strive but have yet to accomplish.
Below are some more key points you may wanna know...
➤ Each issue features a distinct and humorous breaking news, often a dilemma of sort, that invites the readers to help resolve through the power of puzzle-solving. The downright ludicrous yet effectively memorable premise provides a clear focus and minimizes confusion about the endgame: when you arrive at the final solution, you'll know it.
➤ All gazette stories are unapologetically bizarre, and that's exactly why it works so well. The more random it is, the harder I laugh, and the more it stands out within my sea of memories. Months from now, even if I forget the individual puzzles, by God, I will remember Hinckville's ungodly decision to combine their Natural History Gallery and Space Center.
➤ Since there is no one central plotline to follow in the Hincks universe, each issue is a self-contained and not technically interconnected. Play them in any order--the flexibility is yours. No prior investment needed to comprehend how Hincks is a hotel tycoon in July, and somehow also a creative consultant by September... because no one comprehends.
➤ "The Hincks Gazette" is printed on materials strikingly similar to actual newspaper. In addition, obvious care has gone into the choosing appropriate font face, size, and arrangement to give that authentic, black-and-white printed media look. There may be only one prop, but that one lone prop excels in being the damn good newspaper that it aspires to be.
➤ The graphics included are the same ones featured in Bluefish's previous game and weekly puzzle email, and have now become synonymous with the Hincks universe. While I don't have the exact words to fully describe the art style, it's consistent, cute, and reminiscent of Sunday funnies--which, of course, makes perfect sense.
➤ Inherently dictated by the format of a printed media, most puzzles fall under the category of "word play", though I'm still delighted and surprised to see, month after month, the variety of text-based puzzles the Bluefish team can come up with. They have thus far managed to invade the newspaper world via comics, weather report, and even obituary... sorta.
➤ Difficulty greatly varies among users, depending on their vocabulary arsenal and ability to recognize American culture references. In general, the more verbose your mind, the more advantage you have going in. Otherwise, you'll come out learning a new word or two or a dozen. (Not a hyperbole.) Games also assume a certain level of "prior knowledge" as they draw inspirations from childhood classics, such as Toy Story or Mario Brothers.
RECAP SO FAR...
If you want to purchase one specific issue to test the waters before taking the big plunge of subscribing, this comprehensive list of summaries should help you make an informed decision:
➤ Vol 1, Issue 2: House plants are insulting their owners instead of giving them compliments! The nerves! Features an Easter egg from "The Curious Elevator", a collection of heavy word plays to start, and beautiful sixth-grader poetry.
➤ Vol 1, Issue 3: Carrier quails are delivering mail with encrypted messages in puzzles--a bonus Hincks security system that no one's asked for. Includes section that offers sage advice about things that matter most: cats and social media.
➤ Vol 1, Issue 4: Robots are taking over bellboy duties at The Hincks Spire--so expect all your luggage to break upon arrival... if they arrive at all, that is. By far, in my opinion, the toughest issue to solve, and more suitable for experts.
➤ Vol 1, Issue 5: Multiple museums in Hincksville are facing closures. Petition to save a piece of history! Puzzles are intuitively designed; smooth and extremely fun to play. An Easter egg for "The Curious Stairs" can be found in this issue. ➤ Vol 1, Issue 6: Hollywood invades Hincksville! Work your way to a VIP screening of the latest movie filmed on site. Contains a pop-culture-based personality quiz puzzle. Sharp-eyed readers may find another nod to "The Curious Stairs".
➤ Vol 1, Issue 7: Halloween special issue. Zoo bats are delighting residents by raining down candies. Possibly my favorite thus far, since you need to cause the paper physical harm by stabbing it. Literally. It's the Halloween edition, after all.
Overall, "The Hincks Gazette" is a well done, paper-based puzzle subscription service that need no extra frill to shine. Just one flat sheet of 11" by 17" double-sided newspaper, with absolutely no other accompanying prop, delivers hours of quality puzzle-solving goodness drowned in fantastically absurd humor that is Stephen Hinck's bizarre persona.
"The Hincks Gazette" is available for purchase or subscription HERE.
BEST FIT FOR...
★ Puzzle regulars of at least medium level of experience. Novice will probably need a handful of nudges.
★ Those with a wide range of vocabulary and a good mastery of the English language.
★ Those familiar with basic American pop culture, especially of films and tv programs.
★ Casual "me time", intimate family bonding opportunity, date and/or game nights.
★ Have a complete read-through first before solving any puzzles. Get a rough idea on each section first.
★ Next, look for the starting point; it is often, if not always, marked with key words like "start here".
★ Counting the number of units (e.g. letters, words, sentences, etc.) is often key to success.
★ Scribbling directly onto the paper is most efficient when playing... even if it may deface a pristine copy! 😥
★ Do not place your Hincks Gazette near water sources! Text is printed with ink, and may smear when wet.
ESCAPE MATTSTER 😀
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.
⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ Speed code for on-site search: BFGGazette