Season 1, Episode 1: Family Secrets • Mobile Escape Mail • Puzzle Mail Subscription Service Review
◣ GAME FACTS
💪 Difficulty: Hard (Easy & Regular Also Available)
⏲️ Time: N/A
🧑 Capacity: N/A
🏢 Company: Mobile Escape
🏘️ Location: Based in Canada
◣ FORMAT SPECS
🕹️ Format: Mail Subscription Online Puzzle Game
✂️ Tools: Scissors, Clear Tape
💻 Platform: Web Browser, Email Access
📰 Media Used: Various Media From Mail, Text, Images, Video
◣ "TL;DR!" BRIEFS
📝 Episode 1, "Family Secrets" takes on the ever so popular pirate-esque theme, which may excite beginners, while possibly boring more jaded puzzlers. Not a deal breaker, though.
📝 However, upon thrusting deeper into the plot, you'll learn the story will become more immersive and engaging, particularly if you choose to subscribe for later contents.
📝 Puzzles surrounding a treasure hunt theme, laced with a bit of family mystery, were entertaining to play; do note, cipher based challenges seem to prevail in this chapter.
📝 For its rather fair price point, materials bundled in the mail were of considerable quality, but still did leave some room for improvement, production and budget permitting.
💪 Difficulty rating: With Mattster's team of 1, easy, but with minor hiccup(s).
🧑 Best team size: Doing this solo or in an intimate setting of 2 seems most suitable.
🧑 Best audience: Those who enjoy puzzles in monthly doses with an overarching plot.
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► OOOH. ME LIKEY. ◄
SUDDENLY GAINING A NEW COUSIN ADDS JOLTS OF EXCITEMENTS TO MY DAY!
THIS JOINS "RECOMMENDED" RANK!
◣ THE PREMISE
Welcome to Escape Mail, Season 1. The adventure begins with an encrypted introduction to a long-lost relative - Joshua Jordan Fitzpatrick.
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◣ THE REVIEW
Mobile Escape from Canada invites players to go on treasure hunting quest. Adventure shipped to your mail box, no sailing required. And oh, you have a new cousin now.
PIRATES, BECAUSE, OF COURSE
Well, "Family Secrets" is not exactly a pirate themed game, though the elements of treasure maps, compass, gold coins, and cryptic messages are all present. Before you shrug it off as "yet another treasure hunt" of the many similar options out there, consider this:
Isn't it smarter to get the most commonplace theme(s) out of the way early on when a series begins? I bet that's what Mobile Escape is doing here. From the looks of it, each episode from ME would tackle a different topic, so there's probably something in store for everyone within the season. Frankly, I am even more excited to see where it goes from here.
Most important of all, the narrative takes on an interesting twist: You are still in modern time, the present, to be exact, and you aren't even actively seeking treasures in the first place!
It all started from a letter addressed to you from your cousin, Joshua Jordan Fitzpatrick. "I don't know a cousin named JJ," you thought to yourself. WELL, YOU DO NOW! He informs you a great deal of valuables, rightfully yours and his, is hidden out there in the world somewhere. He needs your help to locate them, and you mustn't trust his family!
Ohhhh, how the plot thickens! And family drama, who doesn't like those, huh!
AND THEN, PLUNGE RIGHT IN
From there on, you're on your own. No further instructions, (unless you choose to consult the hint page), you figure out where you want to start. There is quite a few items included in the mail, so do take the time to organize wisely; still, gotta love the anxious but heart pumping feeling of seeing everything being unpacked for the first time!
Side note: From what I understand, this is only applicable if you choose to purchase the "Hard" setting. Any setting below would include a guiding flow chart. I commend the company's meticulous catering for an audience of different experience level. So some delicious brownie points to ya, ME.
Luckily for me, this was not my first puzzle solving gig, and indeed, the strange mail written from cousin JJ contained subtle but essential clues on what to do next. Once my train of thought set into motion, it traveled quite nicely along the tracks, and literally, one thing led to another, and I was contacting my long lost relative within the hour.
Overall, this episode is fairly "crack the code" heavy, which fits the scenario at hand, once you learn of the reason and objective. However, one particular deciphering step bothered me more than others, all due to the very small font size that made me squint my already small eyes even smaller, as such: -_-!! An improvement in this department would sure be nice.
Episode 1 was a healthy mix of puzzles, featuring enough variety and interesting hands-on moments, all served under a unifying premise. Though only a couple was truly brand new challenges I haven't seen before, (but keep in mind, this is all that I do; puzzles all day, every day, every night, la ta ta,) execution was on point, and there is little doubt that general public will find a considerable amount of genuine entertainment within this package.
Moreover, I think the quality of the materials were also worth noting. Episode 1 included the envelope (Ahem, it's listed here for a reason... it's part of the game! Shhh!), encrypted documents, map pieces, compass and coin print outs, twine, and fabric. And everything felt and looked pretty darn good. (I particularly enjoyed the fabric; it's quite the unusual medium.)
I do recognize there is still room for improvement. For instance, the treasure map pieces could be aged and purposely damaged for even greater authenticity, and the print outs of Polaroid photos can be actual Polaroids instead. However, I will leave the possible tweaking and adjustment up to the company's future endeavors.
The props as they are now still deliver a very respectable presentation, and when bolstered by a collection of well developed and executed puzzles, this is a clear winner. Especially considering the affordable price point, Mobile Escape offers a value jam packed bargain.
A QUICK CONCLUSION...
At the episode's end, Mobile Escape thoughtfully provided a debrief video, which is always a nice touch for all online puzzle games. It really helps tie up all the loose ends, and also bring a sense of closure with our newfound cousin, Joshua Jordan. JJ, I guess this is goodb-
What exactly just happened?! Are these episodes not self contained?! "Family Secrets" turned out to be more immersive and extensively planned than I initially expected. JJ, oh, what am I to do now? And I barely know you!
To be continued in Season 1, Episode 2...
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◣ PARTING TIPS
★ Always a good tip: lay out all received items on a table in an organized fashion to start.
★ When the time comes, a strange piece of foldable fabric shall lead your way.
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⤻ Though game access was complimentary, this article was written basing on unbiased and genuine opinions.
⤻ All media credited to and used with permission from contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ Season 1, Episode 1: Family Secrets • "MEFamily"