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🕹️ Stay At Home Games » On Hand Items Required » Print & Play (PDF File Based) Puzzle Game
💪 Difficulty: Not specified.
⏲️ Time duration: Not specified.
🔢 Capacity: Not specified.
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MATTSTER'S REC 😃
💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): 4/10 (team of 1), sans one puzzle that I chose to skip. More on that below.
🔢 Ideal team size: 1 or 2. For me, it works best with 1, but 2 may decrease solve time.
"Thanks for agreeing to look into this case for me. It appears that my long-term adversary, Cryptic, is hellbent on ruining Christmas for everyone. In typical style, he's using puzzles to hold things up. It seems he didn't enjoy the most bountiful of Christmases as a child and has decided to take it out on everyone else! We've intercepted these communications, on their way to Lapland... Send me the final keyword at the end of your sleuthing." - Stan Dioblos, CSI Bristol.
The last time I've interacted with anything from the Cryptic brand, it was for a free print-and-play game dedicated to healthcare workers battling against the then only beginning pandemic in the United Kingdom. Though I reside on the other side of the globe, as an essential worker myself, I appreciated the effort, and the company made an impression.
Since then, the company has really evolved and even branched off. So, there's the original events planning company. And now there is a whole new puzzle-focused subsidiary, better known as the "Enigmas" faction. It's better left for you to explore further than to listen to me explain, so I will just pertinent links here: [Events: official website, Facebook page, Instagram; Enigmas: official website, Facebook page, Facebook group, Instagram.]
In any given case, the creative minds behind Cryptic has churned out quite an impressive holiday special puzzle package named "Letters To Santa", and just like the previous NHS game, it's free to play. While technically still adapted to a print-and-play format, this Christmas activity doesn't demand any printing from the PDF game file. You can very much get by with a combination of viewing on your computer, doing some screenshots, and taking notes on an image-editing program. However, having everything printed out does facilitate the solving process, so up to you!
Letters To Santa | Cryptic Enigmas
There are two noticeable difference between "Letters" and "NHS" entries.
First, the visual aspect has drastically improved. While I didn't find the graphics for the previous horrible, it didn't strike me as impressive--but impressive is the exact sentiment I felt when I saw the various colorful illustrations found in "Letters"! Perhaps I'm not being fair, since one is clearly meant for printing and used ample amount of white on purpose, and the other is a rainbow spectrum festivity, but hey! It is what it is, and this game looks fantastic!
The deliberate choice of formatting every page in square configuration not only resulted in an Instagram-friendly product, which is convenient for the company's marketing, it also made the entire project look extra snazzy. Identical length and height dimensions also made reading on a PC a lot easier and clearer. Quite a few benefits reaped here, really.
Second, "Letters", as its title implies, has a simple but cute narrative revolving around the story's villain and their many questionable communications addressed to the jolly red guy. And because it's the 21st century, these correspondence came in a variety of forms--typewriter document, text message, threatening notice composed by magazine alphabets--so you know, all the classics! Along with the occasional "advertisements", the overall tongue-in-cheek humorous theme really ties the otherwise not-so-related puzzles together into one single coherent entity.
Letters To Santa | Cryptic Enigmas
As far as the puzzle contents go, there is a lot of decoding-based riddles. At least two are outright ciphers, albeit decorated with a wintery coat of holiday cheers. I am not a fan of deciphering since it's time consuming, but with this minor complain aside, the overall collection of puzzles is very entertaining. Enthusiasts would probably have seen it all before, though little entertainment is reduced since they are well executed and beautifully presented. The occasional humor, if you catch it, is like fantastic, hidden winks from the creator.
Flipping back and forth among the many pages is absolutely required, so be sure to take good notes.
There is a very strong tendency for puzzles to draw reference to outside knowledge. If you can work out every single answer without even Googling once, I tip my plushy Christmas hat to you, great sir or madam. Otherwise, expect a little bit of online research, though every topic touched on feels general enough that the average high school student should be able to comfortably tackle. (I myself absolutely geeked out in glee at the Christmas Tree postcard challenge, anyone else?)
There is one particular puzzle inspired by the popular board game Scrabble, and the challenge infused general geography facts. Well, as someone who happens to have low interests in both, I arbitrarily decided to skip this brainteaser entirely--and it's perfectly all right! The game maker designed "Letters" with this kind of scenario in mind; even if a player completely botched a puzzle or even two, they can still finish the final meta puzzle with a bit of common sense.
And isn't that what's Christmas is all about, folks? A warm, fuzzy, happy ending to the year and to all of us.
Letters To Santa | Cryptic Enigmas
The game is free to download, and if you complete it and also submit the correct keyword by Christmas Eve, you'll be entered in a raffle for another online Christmas escape game. So do hurry!
As great as that sounds, the reason why I found this so enjoyable is not at all due to the opportunity for a prize, but rather, purely due to the quality contents. For what it is, this is a good-looking, cleanly executed, solid pack of Christmas themed puzzles, and I just find it to be super neat. It's clever, humorous, and perfect for lifting up some holiday spirits.
★ Don't overthink it. Examine images carefully before jumping into a strategy. It should be obvious what you need to do.
★ Though printing is optional, screenshots prove to be super handy! They help prevent jumping back and forth constantly.
READY FOR FUN?
"Letters To Santa" is available for download HERE.
If you DOWNLOAD due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
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All media are sourced from and credited to rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended. In certain cases, media materials are made available under fair use doctrine of copyright law. CELetters.