“Is your mundane life bringing you down? Are you in a rut and looking for a way to break the monotony? Do the weird, unexplained, less than normal and downright bizarre interest you? If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, WE WANT YOU!
We travel the world over ferreting out ideal candidates to join the ranks of the most esteemed society the world has ever known (. . . well, the world would know if it wasn’t such a well-kept secret!) Aside from a dandy acronym, S.O.U.P. offers intrigue, extensive travel to exotic places, the opportunity to research lost legends, investigate the unknown, and the promise of advancement. And in addition to all that, there is something sinister afoot behind the closed doors at S.O.U.P. headquarters, and you have been nominated to unravel the mystery and bring the culprit to justice.”
This was another game that came highly recommended by the same friend who recommended Box One and Society of Curiosities to me, so it was an easy decision to pick this up. The game arrived in a thick padded envelope, which contained several sealed envelopes.
Right from the start, the game delighted with its commitment to personalization. Inside the welcome envelope is a sleeve with a map, notebook, and a couple of objects that were created just for me. This personalization was spread throughout the entire game and my teammate and I spent a good chunk of the early game cackling in delight at the various creative ways they had personalized things. The custom S.O.U.P. Field Notes notebook was a nice touch, and included a handy way to keep track of our solutions between games. As a bonus, we’re still using it after the game as a notepad for the other at-home puzzle games we’re playing.
We played through in two sessions and really enjoyed the journey. We only had two real quibbles with the game. The first being the start of the game: the first puzzle was far and away the best puzzle, so the puzzles that came after felt a bit underwhelming in comparison. (They were still good, but had a tough act to follow.) The second being the end of the game, which felt a bit abrupt and slightly anticlimactic. That said, both of those are very small quibbles, and we had an absolute blast going through this adventure. If Crack-a-Nut ever releases S.O.U.P. 2: SOUP Harder, it’ll be a day one purchase for us. Even before that happens, I’m hoping to pick up some of their other games in the coming months. So this will not be the last you see of Crack-a-Nut Mysteries on this blog.
In this game you take on the role of a novice paranormal investigator who must prove themselves by being sent around the world to investigate strange occurrences, trying to find the truth in each encounter. The game comes with a world map annotated with a ton of actual real-world phenomena. The missions, similarly, are all modeled off of actual events. A lot of research and effort went into the game and it shows.
S.O.U.P.—that is, the Society of Unknown Phenomena—also was created with care and wit. One of the first things you’re instructed to do is to visit the in-game SOUP website. I recommend everyone take a moment to really go through and read the site, it’s filled with tons of fun little jokes and world-building. The names alone are hilarious.
Each assignment you’re given includes a unique puzzle tailored to that assignment. As mentioned earlier, the puzzle for assignment one is a stand-out, including some really fun and cool moments. It’s also the only assignment in the game with a multiple-part puzzle, which is another reason that the the other assignments felt a little light in comparison. (It contains nearly as many puzzles as the other assignments put together)
The puzzles’ difficulties were right in the sweet spot. They ranged from fairly easy to somewhat difficult, but they were all fair. If you find yourself stuck, know that each puzzle gives you all the information to lead to single solution. If you do get stuck, you’ll be pleased to find an excellent hint system is available right on the website. The hints are well written in a narrative style and did a great job of giving you gradual nudges in the right direction. The hints go all the way to the solution if you get hopelessly stuck. One thing I appreciated about them, was they were warm and welcoming hints, if you need to use one, they won’t make you feel bad about it. This game wants anyone who plays it to have a good time, regardless of puzzle-solving experience.
This game was truly a delight and clearly a labor of love from the people that made it. The gameplay and puzzles lend themselves to a smaller team, so I would highly recommend this to anybody looking for a solo or two player game.