Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Canada
💪 Difficulty: Available in 2 difficulties, starter and experienced.
⏲️ Time duration: Not specified.
🔢 Capacity: Not specified.
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TL;DR... THE QUICK VERSION
➲ Premise: You received, by chance, a distress message that can prevent a world war--act fast and alert the authority.
➲ Game 3 is the most challenging Envelope so far, will certainly feed the appetite of advanced players.
➲ To match the setting of year 2220, most clues are presented online as opposed to being real-life items.
➲ Production value of reality-augmenting faux websites is high, with many details to appreciate.
➲ The overall plot is fascinating, not too hard to grasp, but includes minute details which boost complexity.
➲ Puzzles include some fresh ideas, a number of them require time and patience, and are very hands-on.
➲ 𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😃 subjective rating: 💪 7/10 difficulty (team of 1, experienced), 🔢 ideal team size of 1 to 3.
The year is 2220, a century into the human colonization of Mars. Humans remain the same: two planets are in constant political conflict. Your spaceship picks up a distress call from a Martian spy who has discovered how to stop the war! Now encrypted Martian files are in your hands, along with the fate of both Earth and Mars.
THE UNABRIDGED EDITION
Just when I thought I knew what to expect from Scarlet Envelope, Game 3 "Distress Call From Outer Space" hits me with a galactic curve ball. With this installment, the clues, the game format, and the difficulty--everything changed. Whew.
The Game Master takes his recruitments to the future, year of 2220, when planets and even large asteroids can now provide a place for residence and business--it's just another everyday norm. You, an employee of SHD&CO Spaceship Repair, unexpectedly intercept a distress call amidst an imminent crisis--people of Earth are about to declare war on its neighbor Mars. Your mission: use the intel encrypted inside the mysterious message to prevent mindless bloodshed.
That's quite the stakes on hand and it's a lot to process--and that exactly sums up Game 3 for me--there's really a lot to handle! When I played through Game 1 and Game 2, sure, there were moments of bewilderment, but never a sense of feeling completely lost. In contrast, Game 3 ramps up the difficulty level so much, I got stumped more times than I'd like to admit. In fact, I used the hints page for guidance and nudges throughout to stay on track--a first time in quite a while.
For advanced audience looking for a real humdinger of a challenge, "Distress Call" may just fit your bill.
Now to explain why such the dramatic difference in experience, perhaps we need to start with the package: Envelope 3 includes only 4 physical items in the mail--an ID card, a two-sided map, a ruler, and a transparency film--a marked reduction in number of objects shipped compared to previous games. One item would quickly lead the player to a web portal to sign in as a SHD&C0 crew member, and upon logging in, the real bulk of contents is unleashed... all online!
In a way, it does make good sense to employ mostly virtual, web elements for a game taking place in the future; and in this case, we have some reality-augmenting faux websites. Besides the SHD&CO work portal mentioned, where you would discover sensitive information that can alter the future of mankind, there is also a couple of other "hidden" webpages (an online newspaper, for instance) you need to explore and to collect substantial info to help avert unnecessary warfare.
Production for these sites is impressive: the aforementioned newspaper page contains important key words and phrases, sprinkled here and there, cleverly hidden in plain sight under the guide of breaking news and related columns. Completing the authentic look of an online paper are funny in-jokes and parodies, like Twitter feed, banner ads, and cat gif. (Even in 2220, is the internet even the internet without kittens?) I spent quite some time perusing every little detail, and even though not everything I read is actually pertinent to game play, it was so amusing--I have not a single ounce of regret!
These gorgeously produced websites are the main playground for Game 3, which emphasizes less on traditional or "obvious" puzzles, but more on overall aspect of detective work. Behind these flashy websites, there is a decently complex plot line for the player to discover. While I think getting the gist of the story is not terribly difficult, to pinpoint and locate every specific detail required to pass the game is significantly more challenging. Copious notetaking recommended.
As for your on-hands objects, there will be obvious (enough) cues alerting you now it's time to use this, or that, so you can essentially put them aside until they're summoned. Expect to get really hands-on, and even a bit crafty, with these physical clues. Each puzzle may take up to 10 minutes to complete, demanding both concentration and patience. Hence, Game 3 seems less suitable for those who prefer a quick solve or a more mentally-inclined format. (Frustration did occur briefly due to transparency-related issues, though even then, I still found the overall concept enjoyable.)
Expect to see challenges like cipher (but with an appropriate twist), codebreaking (another stable of the series), pencil marking, geometry, and other pretty cool ideas in "Distress Call". In general, these puzzles are satisfying; but more importantly, not many felt like the same, trite, overused tropes we see over and over, and that's often a telltale sign of a decently designed escape game entertainment.
Side note: Voice acting throughout the series is justly a bit incomprehensible and awkward at times, but plans for upgrades are already in motion. Improvements are coming in the foreseeable future.
"Distress Call From Outer Space" is barely the second storyline-based adventure from Scarlet Envelope, but it is already quite a departure from its previous entry. This just further solidifies the idea that every time the Game Master sends an agent to a different place and time point, one can never be cocksure on what will appear. With 9 (or 10) more games yet to come, I can only imagine the potential and variety the creators will bring by the end of the season.
★ Every time you discover something new, jog it down. You may need that detail--you just don't know when yet.
★ Handle your transparency film with care and ensure to play on a smooth table surface. This will prevent film scratches.
★ When using the constellation map, focus on the blue & red stars first. The bottom clue will make more sense after.
READY FOR FUN?
"Chapter 1, Game 3 (Distress Call From Outer Space)" is available for purchase/subscription HERE.
If you PURCHASE/SUBSCRIBE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.
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