Post Curious: The Emerald Flame

By | January 26, 2023

Room-in-a-box, Mar 2022

Rated 4.5 out of 5
Toby says:

Few games exude quality the way The Emerald Flame does. Post Curious have had the highest of reputations since their original box game The Tale of Ord, and this follow up does nothing to undermine that.
Although shorter than its predecessor, The Emerald Flame still comes in at 6-9 hours gameplay, consisting of three chapters, each of which takes 2-3 hours. This is not a game to race through though, it’s one to be savoured and enjoyed. The large box contains three sturdy white envelopes, plus a small epilogue puzzle and a refill kit; our Kickstarter copy also contained an additional refill kit. Each chapter is stand-alone, apart from one section in chapter 3 that requires referring back to the earlier parts (though you don’t need to have recorded your answers to those). An online portal lets you enter answers for confirmation, and a separate page provides hints and solutions if needed, but you could play this entirely offline, only connecting to check your solutions afterwards.
Opening one of the three envelopes gives you a sheaf of documents and other items, and the quality of the artwork makes an immediate impression. No typed or scrawled pieces of paper here – each document is a work of art, covered in painstakingly neat illustrations of flora and fauna, bursting with colour like a medieval manuscript. The other items are equally arresting, everything instantly drawing you in and making you want to solve its mysteries.
And those mysteries are equally beautiful. Each chapter has about four distinct puzzles, with clear guidance given to which components are part of which; and each of those puzzles is a multi-part conundrum that may take around half an hour to solve, going through the rewarding sequence of bafflement to insight to excitement to satisfaction. Every one is smart and original, never trivial but always solvable with persistence.
Only one puzzle missed the mark for me: while equally clever in concept and beautiful in presentation, it required several assumptions during its first step, and if any of those assumptions are off then you get a set of data for which the subsequent logic fails to work. That was easily forgiven though, partly because the rest was so consistently good, and partly because the online hint system is first rate, giving you very finely graded hints so that you don’t see more of a spoiler than you wanted, plus opportunities to verify intermediate solutions.
The story complements the game well, with a flavour of forgotten secrets to be uncovered, and sets up the game’s final decision. The portal where you enter your answers is presented as part of the game world, and the surrounding website provides some additional world-building.
The Emerald Flame is not a cheap game, but if the price makes you hesitate then bear in mind that you’re effectively purchasing a set of three games, each larger than most; and it’s absolutely a premium product. It immediately joins my personal shortlist of all time favourite play at home games, and I think it’s the first one where I’d be happy to frame some of the illustrations for display. 4.5 / 5
Pris rated this:4.5 / 5

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