“Navigate the treasures that litter the walls of the Tinker’s Workshop and perhaps become the first to discover a long lost secret?”
This being our third chapter of the Curious Correspondence Club, we knew exactly what was awaiting us when we received our familiar envelope in the mail: a solid, but challenging, paper-based puzzle experience that would give us a good 90 minutes or so of puzzling fun. Once again, we weren’t disappointed.
This chapter provided a little more direction than the previous two chapters, not enough to spoil the “what do we do with all of these items??” meta-puzzle that we’ve become real fond of, but enough that we were able to easily figure out whether or not we had enough information to complete whichever puzzle we were working on.
Much like the last chapter, the paper components were used in novel ways which lead to some fun puzzling, and none of it felt the same as the previous chapters. While we’ve been able to suss out a rhythm to their games, we’ve been continuously surprised by these experiences, which bodes well for future installments.
Overall, we were able to complete this chapter in about 90 minutes and were rewarded by another well-produced conclusion video at the end.
I’ll start with the good. I really enjoyed the extra effort that went into giving some background and history of the titular tinker in this chapter, which really enhanced this chapter’s story. The various bits and bobs that come with the game are really well produced, using skeuomorphism in a way that aids with your suspension of disbelief. While they’re clearly not going to send you a mechanical watch to play with, they did create some really cool paper props that moved and felt a lot more like a mechanical watch than it did like a piece of paper. It’s not easy to do—the only other people I’ve seen do such an innovative job with narrative paper design are the creative folks over at Bluefish Games—so it definitely shines here.
In the less good side of things, I don’t feel like we’ve moved forward in the over-arching meta-narrative that much. Chapter One did a great job of foreshadowing and hinting at plot to come, but this chapter and the last chapter haven’t done much with that. Each chapter has us collecting magical MacGuffins, but we still have no idea to what end or why the shadowy opposing forces want them (or who the shadowy opposing forces even are). I realize there’s at least a year’s worth of game puzzles to spread that information out over, but it would be nice to have at least a drip of information in each chapter.
Unlike in previous installments, we definitely felt like the creators tried to implement a difficulty ramp in this installment. We breezed through the earlier parts of the puzzle, to the point where we were wondering if we’d finish it under 45 minutes, but the later puzzles provided us with more of a challenge. Overall the puzzles range from Medium-Difficult, this may not be the ideal experience for folks new to the hobby.
I really enjoyed the puzzles this time around. They were well written and straightforward without being obvious, leading to some really great “aha!” moments. Though, there was one minor component issue with a later puzzle; it was more of an annoyance than a blocker, but it did grind us to a halt and (eventually) sent us to the hint system. I can’t say much more about it without spoiling the solve, but it required us to use a fair amount of force while simultaneously trying to be delicate, and those two things are hard to do in tandem.
The hint system on the website provides two hints and the solution for each puzzle. I would have liked there to be a few more steps in the hint system—I’m spoiled by the excellent hint systems that Society of Curiosities and Bluefish Games provide—but it’s nice to have a progressive hint system at all.
This continues to be an excellent monthly puzzling experience. While it may be on the harder side for a novice puzzler, the hint system is there as a safety net. I’d recommend it to any puzzler looking for some solid monthly fun and some novel paper-craft interactions.