Online, Aug 2020
I liked Cluequest’s first print and play game and loved their second; does the third part measure up? For those who prefer to skim read: yes, it does. While not reaching the very high bar set by episode 2, it’s still in the top rank of home games for the creativity of its puzzle design.
As usual, you’re up against the nefarious Professor Blacksheep, continuing the story from the previous parts. The game primarily consists of a couple dozen printed sheets in black and white, with a web portal to provide story videos and a place to input your answers.
The videos are the same attractive faux-cartoon style used in the previous games, but are used more sparingly, with one for the intro and one for the conclusion. I didn’t particularly mind that there weren’t any mid-game, though; I’m much more invested in the puzzles than the plot. (The conclusion tied up a character arc that was probably introduced in the previous episodes but which I’d long since forgotten about; I guess it’s nice that they’re including narrative threads beyond the main one of ‘stop the bad guy’.)
This series tends to give you a set of clues with little hand-holding for how to approach them – but with some superb sign-posting built into those clues to put you on the right path. This subtle approach is one of the things I like best about the series; however baffling it might initially seem, persistence is rewarded with understanding. It’s a design that’s tailored to enthusiasts though, and could be overwhelming for some groups.
Perhaps due to the lower quantity of paper cutting required, there’s somewhat less of a ‘paper craft’ feel to this episode, and the paper elements aren’t used in quite such an innovative way. That said, the creativity here still blows most other home games out of the water. It even includes a truly excellent paper jigsaw puzzle, which is a phrase I never expected to find myself writing. One step seemed to be accidentally ambiguous, with two possible routes where there should have been only one; with that exception, the puzzles were excellent and the game’s strongest feature.
It sounds like Cluequest are planning to stretch the definition of ‘trilogy’ and proceed on to release further games in the series – given their current standard that will be entirely welcome.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.