Two people have gone missing, and the cops seem to be at a dead end. You’ve been contacted to take up the investigation. There seem to be plenty of leads, but if they are true, then something very weird is going on. Keep following that mountain of evidence, though, and you never know what you might find!
What Is The Tale of Ord?
The Tale of Ord is billed by its designers, PostCurious, as a “narrative tabletop puzzle game.” In function, it is similar to other found object/artifact puzzle games like those put out by The Mysterious Package Company. The story is told across four “packages,” which are intended to function as four separate shipments to you, the private investigator. Each package contains a host of items, each of which includes one or more clues to be ferreted out. Put them all together, and you can solve the mystery.
This game is designed so that it can be played either alone or with a group. I played it alone, and I think that streamlines the process, as incorporating too many players would make it difficult to navigate some of the challenging tasks that take time, patience, and quiet to think. Each package takes 3-4 hours, so don’t plan on doing this one all in one sitting. There was no content that was too adult-oriented, but the complexity of the tasks would make The Tale of Ord a good choice for teenagers and up. The Tale of Ord can be purchased here and sells for $165 total for all four packages.
The Tale of Ord Components
Part of the appeal to The Tale of Ord is how each package builds upon the previous. As such, I don’t want to give too much away by revealing all of its components. I can share with you what’s in the first package, though. You will find:
- A PostCurious-branded notebook
- A letter from Mikhail, the person who has hired you
- The journal of one of the missing people
- A map
- A business card
- A set of 5 slotted cards
- A scratch-off lottery ticket
- A card with circular diagrams on it.
Each package contains increasingly more intricate items, and you can see a number of them in the pictures spread throughout this article. These include talismans, glass vials, and even a wooden puzzle box. Overall, the components are made with fine craftsmanship. I did have some issues with the puzzle box, and a component broke, although the intricacies of the woodworking and the fact that it was 2:00 am when I was finishing likely contributed to that. I was beyond impressed with how much thought had gone into these items, and how well they functioned as a whole. I even still have a vial of a mysterious herb included in this game on my desk as an attractive decoration.
How to Play The Tale of Ord
Use the stuff you get to find clues that solve the mystery. Moving on…
Joking! Sort of.
The beauty of The Tale of Ord is that it is, on its surface, not that complex. You open up the first package, go over the contents, and then use them to gather clues. However, don’t let the simplicity of the basic idea fool you. You are going to have to work to solve The Tale of Ord. Some of the ways to solve the puzzles jumped out at me pretty quickly (I’m looking at you, slotted cards!). Others, however…others were intense. I just about filled up the notebook that’s included in the first package with notes I used to solve the puzzles. Many of them require multiple stages of deciphering, so even after doing the first part correctly, you have gibberish until you run the solution through another cipher (metaphorically).
When you open up your package, it is a good idea to take everything out and spread it across a work space (table, desk, etc.). From there, read through everything – letters, journal articles, maps, and anything else with words on it. Then take it a piece at a time. Likely, one route will become apparent, and you follow that breadcrumb as far as it goes. Then you move on to the next. There is a high level of interactivity within the components, so you shouldn’t be afraid to use one item to solve another.
The introduction of additional packages ratchets up the complexity. I found each package to be slightly more complex. Adding to the difficulty level, items from previous packages are necessary to solving all the clues in future packages. The level of intricacy and forethought that went into this is impressive. This all leads up to the final package, which brings the whole story together and leaves you with one final choice.
Of note, this game does require a working internet connection and a computer. Some of the clues involve web pages and interacting via email with the characters in the game.
Why You Should Play The Tale of Ord
You should be checking out The Tale of Ord if you have any interest in found object/artifact-based puzzle games. The level of quality in this product from PostCurious is exceptionally high. They clearly thought through their components, giving them a level of intricacy that was beyond what I had expected. Overall, this is a very high-quality product.
The story itself is a lot of fun, as well. The mystery stretches from a standard missing person case to entwine itself around Norse mythology and the study of Norse runes. The extra steps taken to build in a level of interactivity with the characters was another nice touch.
Where does The Tale of Ord leave room for improvement? Really, it is tough to find a spot. That said, I did feel a little thrown out of the story early on in the first package, when I realized that the solution to decrypting a clue was through using a hint from an item that had been created before the lock it was the key to had been created, meaning that short of predicting the future, the key should not work the way it did.
However, that small issue did not deter me from enjoying the rest of the package, or from loving the later packages even more. I found myself powering through the whole game if the span of about 2 days, staying up late two nights in a row to finish the package I was working on. I was sucked into the game. The narrative was engaging, and the puzzles were the right level of difficulty that felt engaging without punishing. I found myself addicted to the high of discovery, pursuing each new clue with the anticipation of the rush of understanding at the end. The Tale of Ord was a wonderfully positive experience.
For those of you still on the fence, consider checking out the free puzzle PostCurious has made available. It is a fun way to check out the quality of their product without the commitment of the entire game. Best of all, it’s FREE! You can grab a copy of the free puzzle here. And when you have conquered that, give The Tale of Ord a try. You won’t regret it.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.