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Review: Chapter 1, Game 1: Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries | Scarlet Envelope


Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Canada



OFFICIAL SPEC

🕹️ Stay At Home Games » On Hand Items Required » Puzzle Mail Subscription Service

💪 Difficulty: Available in 2 difficulties, starter and experienced.

⏲️ Time duration: Not specified.

🔢 Capacity: Not specified.

🛒 If you PURCHASE/SUBSCRIBE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)


TL;DR...

➲ Premise: A strange newspaper and various seemingly unrelated items arrived in your mailbox. Could this be... a test?

➲ Chapter 1, Game 1 (Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries) involves items originating from different times and worlds.

➲ Reasonably priced, with decently produced clue materials, including realistic newspaper, art exhibit ticket, etc.

➲ Game flow consists of multiple non-linear puzzles, culminating in one final meta-puzzle solution.

➲ Majority of puzzles are common tropes, therefore may seem a bit easy for more experienced players.

➲ Does not feature a conventional storyline, more of a teaser to future chapter(s) to come in Game 2 to 12.

➲ Game available in starter or experienced difficulties, the latter option locks hints page behind one bonus puzzle.

𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 🙂 subjective rating: 💪 4/10 difficulty (team of 1, experienced), 🔢 ideal team size of 1 to 2.




OFFICIAL PREMISE

Something confusing was delivered to your mailbox. The items in an envelope seem to be from different times...and worlds! Slowly you realize that a mysterious Secret Society is watching you as you try to pass this unusual test. Will you accept a challenge? (This is a special game that gets you familiar with codebreaking and mysteries. It also gives you teasers of the storyline-based games that are ahead of you!)




UNABRIDGED EDITION


To date, I've played quite a few by-mail, at-home puzzle game services, and most of them give me a pretty concrete idea of what to expect from the beginning. Whether it be a detective agency or a secret society, I more or less know I am assisting in solving mysterious cases in a pertinent field. Scarlet Envelope, however, is an exception. (Beside the fact that my envelope will be red, that is.)


Even as I opened my literal scarlet mail for Chapter 1, Game 1, entitled "Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries", and laid out all the contents on my table, I was a wee bit baffled. There's the obvious focal point, the titular newspaper. And then there were other seemingly random items. There was no one single (obvious) unifying theme, and my confusion was actually intended: as the official game website puts it, "Something confusing was delivered to your mailbox. The items in an envelope seem to be from different times...and worlds". Ah, now the nonsensical starts to make sense.


And then there's a semi-ominous note that said someone's watching me... CLOSELY. Shoot, how close? And are you stalking me from my good side? Please catch me from my good side. Jk. I know I don't have a good side.


Chapter 1, Game 1: Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries ▪ Scarlet Envelope



But you know who has a good side? Scarlet Envelope. For its very reasonable price tag, the components look pretty decent. For instance, the bold red envelope features artwork unique to each game, and it is stamped across the backside along with a big game number indicator "SE I". I find this feature simple yet effective. Imagine, each month, as a subscriber, looking forward to seeing a bright red envelope, an unmistakable indication of another crimson adventure waiting to unfold. And the game number system just makes good organization! My OCD-type personality approves!


Inside, the mail materials are mostly paper based, but there's a clear effort in making sure everything looks situation appropriate. The newspaper, while a bit small, is printed on the appropriate paper stock, and reads in sections much like the real thing. (Amusing contents, too.) The worn-out art gallery ticket shows wear and tear that resembles actual result of crumbling and aging, and it's my favorite clue of the bunch. The Cabaret Lapin Blanc flyer is another that caught my eye. A few other items can be further tweaked to increase credibility, but overall a well-done and satisfactory package.


Chapter 1, Game 1: Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries ▪ Scarlet Envelope



After examining everything once, I was candidly shocked to find the web address of the hints page was secured behind a puzzle. Though it only took me a few minutes to figure out the answer, a big what-if lingered on my mind: "What if I never managed to solve this puzzle? Wouldn't this defeat of purpose of a hints page?"


A little talk with the creators later, it's come to my understanding that there're two difficult levels available: starter and experienced. Starter patrons will have the hints page URL provided plainly, while experienced users need to first conquer one easy, bonus challenge to obtain the same. A somewhat controversial decision; do keep this in mind when ordering!


The main game flow, otherwise, isn't hard to pick up. There is a meta puzzle in the form of a crossword on the newspaper. By solving separate, non-linear puzzles elsewhere in the package, one would eventually collect enough information for the final reveal. As a whole, this roster of puzzles doesn't necessarily offer very many brand new brainteasers for expert players, since a fair amount are recycled ideas, but they are both welcoming and entertaining for novice. Examples include: various ciphers, word play, and a tiny bit of outside, albeit very basic, knowledge.


Two tasks in particular were especially memorable, and both required my active interaction with the props. The key in both cases, however, is that you gotta think deep enough to figure out what is it that you have to do in the first place. But once epiphany hits, that "ah-ha" euphoric moment, it's really the best, isn't?


Chapter 1, Game 1: Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries ▪ Scarlet Envelope



Something that you won't find in Game 1 is an encompassing plot line--but you also sorta do--depending on the perspective. This game, per official source, is one that "gets you familiar with codebreaking... It also gives you teasers of the storyline-based games that are ahead of you". Hence, on one hand, if you're expecting a story, there indeed leaves something more to be desired. On the other, as a teaser to what's to come, it actually worked quite well for me.


Upon game completion, you will meet the "Game Master". A friend or a foe? It's too soon to tell, but his voice sure sounds foreboding. He informs those deemed worthy can now travel through space and time, and to help untangle some of history's toughest mysteries. In my mind, this strangely registers like a video game: NEXT LEVEL UNLOCKED! Moreover, the realization of how each prop I've touched lies a deeper story to be told--the anticipation made me excited and pumped.


Overall, Scarlet Envelope took a gamble in making the entire first entry an introductory course on puzzle solving and a preview of their next episode(s). No matter the audience reception, the makers deserve credits for boldly trying something unusual. For me, personally, I felt more than enough intrigued to see where this would lead. So here I come, Paris 1899.




EXTRA TIPS

In most cases, the solutions to these puzzles don't correlate to its contents. So focus on decoding techniques.

The moment when I realized there's a square piece of paper--very exciting and nostalgic. ❤️

Collect hidden letters from Game 1 to 12 to access secret bonus 13th mission "Initiation".


READY FOR FUN?

"Chapter 1, Game 1 (Newspaper: Introduction To Mysteries)" is available for purchase/subscription HERE.

If you PURCHASE/SUBSCRIBE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)



Signing off,

ESCAPE MATTSTER

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Full disclosure: complimentary game access was generously provided for review or testing purposes. 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. SENewspaper.

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I am Matt, aka Escape Mattster (Matt + Master... It's a pun!). I am a Southern California-based escape rooms and puzzle games enthusiast from United States, chronicling my puzzling and brainteasing journey one passionate blog entry at a time!

 

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