Geeks LOVE puzzles. I’m sure there are some out there who will disagree, but I’ve yet to meet a fellow geek that didn’t have some sort of fascination with one or more types of puzzles—escape rooms, crosswords, murder mysteries… the list goes on.
Well, I’ve got a new one to add to that list—an artifact-based narrative mystery from The Enigma Emporium. You’re probably thinking… subscription service, no thanks! But just hang on! It’s NOT a subscription puzzle service. You buy the story that intrigues you and you get sent all the components that will make up that Enigma. Even better, you won’t be destroying the parts (as you do with other mystery games, especially Escape Room-types) to prevent the puzzle from being played again. This means you’re free to place the artifact(s) on your bookshelf as a reminder of the fun you had… or as a conversation starter. (I have a Curiosity Cabinet that I put these kinds of things into… just looking into it at all the ephemera and odds-and-ends brings back great memories.)
From the website:
Each Enigma will be an artifact, an item made to be both beautiful and puzzling. This artifact will tell a story and contain a mystery, and your job will be to peel back the layers that surround this story and solve the enigma contained within, leaving you with both a beautiful conversation-starter on your table as well as memories of the journey…
Pricing for each storyline will be between $10 and $50, so you’re not locked into a fixed price. Start simple, check out what The Enigma Emporium has to offer, and if you like the quality of the artifacts and the complexity of the puzzles, you can explore the more advanced offerings.
The team behind The Enigma Emporium aren’t amateur puzzle makers, either; ten years of puzzle design, Escape Rooms, and similar creations all come together to offer mystery enthusiasts a unique service and experience.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers for the artifact that I was provided as a test, but I can tell you that the puzzles are devious. My puzzle involved a simple envelope that arrived with five very curious postcards tucked inside.
I’m not a professional puzzle solver, so I will admit to having hit the website up for a quite a few hints here and there. What’s interesting is that I solved two of the postcards without help… and those turned out to be two of the more difficult when I double-checked on the hints page. Another postcard gave me NOTHING but trouble; I had one element figured out, but couldn’t figure another. I hit the hints page and couldn’t believe how simple the solution. And that’s the thing—sometimes we tend to over-complicate things. With this particular Enigma, I was going too deep. The puzzles are devious, but not unsolvable. You don’t need to know calculus or how to speak Latin or even have a PhD in history. A phone that does Google searches and a few other tasks (that I won’t give away) is all you need.
I’m determined to solve this one on my own now. I’ve verified the cards I’ve solved and I’ve used the hints for the dead-ends I’ve hit. Now I’ve got to sit down and put all the details together to solve the BIG solution.
I don’t know what other surprises The Enigma Emporium has under its belt, but based on this initial collection of artifacts, I know I’ll have to be on my toes. Examine everything. Look for the simplest solution first. Don’t overthink things. Be persistent.
The Enigma Emporium is launching its Kickstarter on October 2, 2018. If any of this sounds of interest to you, be sure to check out the Kickstarter.
Note: I’d like to thank Logan (fellow GeekDad, too) for the test artifact and for all the frustration that a GREAT puzzle brings.