Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Tale of Ord in exchange for an honest review.
Puzzle games and escape room-like games have become pretty popular in the tabletop gaming community. Greg and I love to spend an evening now and then playing something in the Exit: The Game or Unlock! series. We love puzzles AND mysteries, so these kinds of games are quite fun for us. We also love mysterious storytelling a la The Mysterious Package Company. Getting strange things in the mail in the name of mystery, games, and storytelling? Sign us up!
It is different from the typical board game, more like a tabletop/escape room/interactive fiction hybrid, where the player receives packages in the mail with physical objects and has to solve puzzles in order to progress in both the story and the investigation.
I agreed to review the game for her and eagerly awaited what promised to be a grand experience. And, folks, Rita did not disappoint!
The game arrived in a shipping box that contained 4 packages. Each package needs to be completed in order. There is a handy guide attached to each package listing the package order on one side and instructions on the other. Here’s what I saw when I opened the shipping package:
I love the presentation. It felt like receiving a top secret mission. It even includes a handy notebook for all your clue hunting and puzzle solving notes! Here are the instructions on the back of the card for the first package (a few links have been obscured because they are only needed if you are playing the game):
I’ll show one photo of part of the contents from package one, but no more than that because it is really worth experiencing it on your own and I do not want to spoil that fun for anyone. The contents vary from package to package, so you get to see LOTS of different kinds of clues and puzzles throughout the experience. (There are other reviews posted on the PostCurious website that show more of the other contents if you REALLY want to see them…)
A lotto ticket, a strange map, a paper with odd dials drawn on it, a business letter, and more that cannot be seen in this image. The pieces (that you cannot see) inside that small golden envelope on top of the lotto ticket are SO COOL – the puzzle they get used with was one of our favorites simply because of how neat the design is for the things inside the envelope.
This review is about a game I cannot entirely show you and I cannot talk about much of the story because I do not want to give anything away. What I can tell you is this: You, and anyone who plays with you, are a private investigator looking for two missing professors of the Emerens Institute… but archaeological discoveries of strange relics send you on an epic, mysterious adventure.
The components in the game are top quality. When Rita said she had designed and self-published the game, I really was not sure what to expect. She was familiar with my DIY Crafty Gamer series, which is why she thought I might be a good person to talk to about a review. When the package arrived at my door, I had already built up a good level of anticipation (having heard Rita describe the game and checking out the PostCurious website). When I opened the box and saw the four packages with their attached notes and other things peeking out, I got even MORE excited. The fourth package is pretty bulky, so I was dying to get started so we could start the journey to see WHAT’S IN THE PACKAGE!
There’s a journal in the first package that sets you off on your sleuthing and it is SO CLEVER. If you have any experience with puzzle games, you should be able to recognize WHERE there is a clue or something you need to solve, but the puzzles surrounding those clues are quite a bit of fun. We felt just the perfect combination of challenge and the rush of victory when a code or clue was cracked. There is a link to a hints website on the instruction card, so if you do get stuck, you can get some guidance. We ended up needing a hint on one of the puzzles and had to get through a couple hints before getting to something that was new information. I also checked out a few of the other puzzle hints after we completed them to see what the hint trees were generally like and they do a pretty good job of offering stepped hints, so if you’re looking at a new puzzle and have no clue where to even begin with that, you should feel comfortable asking for the first hint, knowing that it will give you juuuuust enough to set you in the right direction, and then if you need more nudges, well, those are available, too.
I will say that some of the puzzles came quickly to us simply because we have a fair bit of experience with puzzle games and escape rooms, so that prior experience came in quite handy. But there were plenty of puzzles that we had to work at, even knowing what pieces were needed for it, so folks with varying levels of puzzle game experience should do fine considering the hints available, if necessary. We did have one frustrating puzzle, but it’s difficult to explain WHY it was frustrating without giving part of the experience away… All I’ll say is: be consistent in your online search methods.
Have a computer or tablet nearby as you play, because you will need to use the internet for some of the puzzle solving, as well as have access to the hints page (this is also where you enter your answers to the puzzles to find out if you are correct or not). Completing the final puzzle of a package also requires sending an email to an NPC to progress the game. Also, be prepared to jump down a few rabbit holes while you’re solving puzzles – the archaeological finds throughout the experience are things you can read about and dive deeper into if curiosity captures you.
After we finished the first package, I wanted to break into the second package IMMEDIATELY, but I made myself wait until the next day because it was already late in the evening and I knew my brain would appreciate a recharge before more puzzle solving. That feeling of wanting to jump right back in, though… that’s gold. Okay, fine, I’ll show you ONE MORE PHOTO.
In this tabletop narrative puzzle adventure, you are a private investigator tasked with finding two missing professors from the Emerens Institute, but when information is uncovered about a mysterious relic found by an archaeological team, you have the opportunity to change the course of destiny. The game comes with four packages, each with an assortment of notes, articles, drawings, and strange artifacts, you set out on a journey to explore the supernatural forces of Norse mythology, attempting to learn the meaning of mysterious symbols as you progress through a variety of puzzles and begin to unravel the secrets of fate and time. Each package of this limited edition game contains a variety of puzzles and approximately 3-4 hours of gameplay. –PostCurious website
It’s fantastic to see someone self-publishing a game like this and doing it so well. The cost of the game might be prohibitive for some: the experience is $165 USD. Considering that it’s self published, and the components are top notch, and it contains multiple sessions worth of game play (4 packages at 3-4 hours a piece is 12-16 hours of play time, longer if you’re newer to puzzle games)… It is WELL worth the price tag. It isn’t just a game, it really is an experience. So, grab a few friends, split the cost, and go on an epic adventure! And, hurry, because it’s a limited edition experience with only 500 copies going out into the world.
You can try out a free puzzle from Post Curious and get $10 off your order when you solve the free puzzle!