Room-in-a-box, Sep 2020
After the Curious Elevator and the Curious Stairs, I have to hope that Team Bluefish release a third box named Curious Dumbwaiter or perhaps Curious Fire Escape. Actually, I hope they release more regardless of what they call it, because Elevator was excellent and Stairs is even better.
Curious Stairs is a prequel extension to Curious Elevator. Neither game really has anything you could describe as a narrative, so don’t worry too much about this being a ‘prequel’. As their website says, Stairs is stand-alone and can be played before Elevator – but it makes much more sense to tackle Stairs second, because the difficulty level is higher. Also, by playing Stairs second, you’re saving the best for last.
The format is very much as before: a box of clues, and a website that gives you a linear sequence of puzzles, each of which must be solved with a combination of information from the box and information provided on the website. Stairs is half the size of Elevator, physically and in terms of number of puzzles, though the average per-puzzle solve time will probably be a bit higher.
The four puzzles would be quite distinct from each other, but Stairs uses a particular idea that works as a common theme, and which also contributes some original and clever mechanics to the solves. As well as being harder, these puzzles are also somewhat more process-intensive than the puzzles in Elevator.
I found the Elevator puzzles very elegant and satisfying to solve, to the point where I’d point to them as examples of puzzle design done well. The ones in Stairs are as good or better. As with Elevator, if you look for games with an immersive narrative then this may not be to your taste; but for smart puzzles it’s a gourmet treat.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.