At Home Game

Journal 29

Review

Game Description

“Journal 29 is a unique book game where you can solve riddles and puzzles and submit your answers online to get the keys and move forward.
To solve the riddles, you need to think out of the box.

You can write, draw, search, fold pages, combine different methods and try to get those riddles right.
Journal 29 is a 148 pages book providing over 63 riddles you can solve.”

Personal Experience

I picked this one up the day I finished Tachyon and had pretty high expectations for it, as it was the original puzzle book that spawned a bunch of imitators, including Tachyon itself. Unfortunately, being the first at something doesn’t necessarily make you the best at something. I probably would have been fonder of it, had I not just finished a very similar, but superior game. But the design of the book and the puzzles in the book feel a little shaggier and less well executed than Tacyhon’s. That said, aside from some frustrations sprinkled throughout, the game was mostly enjoyable. Enough, even, to order the sequel: Journal 29: Revelations.

Narrative

The plot of Journal 29 is that the book is the lost journal of a group of archaeologists who spent 28 weeks finding nothing at a particular dig, only to find something spectacular on the 29th day. (It’s really not a spoiler to say that it’s Aliens. They found Aliens.) Apparently these archaeologists loved QR codes and puzzles as, much like Tachyon, each page features a puzzle to solve and a QR Code to enter the solution. Unlike Tachyon, which tried hard to give the book an interesting end, the narrative for this game comes to a dead stop with the final puzzle. (For what it’s worth, it does seem to pick up from that exact spot in Revelations.)

Puzzle Play

The book is laid out uniformly, with every 2-page spread containing a puzzle and a QR code which takes you to the solution page. The solution to each puzzle resolves to a word or number, which you then enter in on the solution site, which tells you if you’re right or wrong. If you’re right, you’ll get a code word, which you can then use to solve later puzzles. (Yup, I copied that almost word-for-word from the Tachyon review, but Tachyon copied Journal 29, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Some of the puzzles are obvious and last just the amount of time it takes to fill in the codeword on the website. Others are obvious, but you’ll spend a frustrating 20 minutes trying to figure out what codeword exactly they were looking for, only to go to the hint board and discover that your solution was right but the word they wanted was non-intuitive. There were a lot of moments like that in Journal 29, where the answer format would vary dramatically from puzzle to puzzle, causing you to waste time figuring out exactly what it was the creator wanted. That never felt great, though not necessarily to the point of unfairness—all of the puzzles are technically solvable with whats on the page, even if the precise code-word is non-intuitive.

Recommendation

If you’ve never done a puzzle book like this before, I would recommend that you pick up Tachyon first. It’s basically the exact same kind of book, but with a tighter theme and tighter puzzles. If you get through that and are dying for more puzzle book action, then Journal 29 is worth picking up, just expect a bit more frustration than the former.

Details

Type of Game: At Home Puzzle Game
Date Played: 2021-01
Price: $17
Company: Journal 29
Website: https://journal29.com
Team Size: 1
Colorblind-friendly: Yes
Outcome: Win

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