“An ancient encrypted journal has come into your possession. The Society of Curiosities believes it may lead you to the lost treasure maps of fabled pirate Capt. Madok! Unlock the secrets of the journal and dispatch your team on the ground to retrieve the maps!
You will communicate with your team on the ground via text message to guide them, search the web for clues, and immerse yourself in a world of mystery that will have you doubt what is real!”
This is a smaller-in-scope mystery experience that is designed to onboard you into the Society of Curiosities world before you play Madok’s Lost Treasure. It’s free for subscribers and costs $12 if you’re not (though they will give you a coupon for $12 off a subscription if you buy it first and want to subscribe later). They even send you an e-mail letting you know you should play it when you sign up for a Societies of Curiosity subscription. All that to say, that despite all of that signposting telling me to play this first, I somehow missed all of that, and ended up playing it almost a month after I played Madok’s Lost Treasure.
While smaller in scope than Madok’s—it took me less than an hour to make it through—this was still a really fun adventure. It’s an online only adventure and doesn’t require any print-and-play components.
This game is the perfect little capsule for showing off Society of Curiosities story-telling and world building capabilities. The story tells a tragic story about a man who stole some maps in the 18th Century but didn’t live long enough to make good use of them. For such a small story, Society of Curiosities has gone out of their way to create interesting characters that you can research or interact with.
The story functions as a prologue to Madok’s Lost Treasure and while my Madok’s experience wasn’t negatively impacted by not playing this first, I do think playing this first tees up that story quite nicely.
The puzzles are, intentionally I presume, a little on the easier side. The puzzles are designed to ease you into the Society’s unique blend of traditional puzzle solving and ARG. Much like Madok’s Lost Treasure, there is a particular moment where you’ll be like “I certainly hope this is part of the game, because otherwise…” The creator’s clearly enjoy playing in that “Is it real or not” space. It’s a lot of fun.
One of my favorite little touches was one of the puzzles required you to figure out a cipher; instead of then making you decode the entire message yourself once you’ve figured out, you can send it to game character to decode it for you. Could every overly-long process puzzle in every game work like this going forward? Please?
If you do get stuck, Society of Curiosities has developed a great hint system in place for you to use. The hints start out small but escalate all the way to the solution.
If you’re looking to try out Society of Curiosities, this is a great game to do it with.(The Bewitched Circus is another great intro game of theirs.) They have created one of my favorite game experiences of the year so far, so they have my strongest recommendation. I also recommend that you follow their advice and actually play this game before Madok’s Lost Treasure, if you do subscribe. The games are appropriate for solo play or for a 2-3 person team.