The Wizard’s Apprentice
“A box is delivered to your door, within it a letter from a stranger who claims that you have magical powers. You begin the quest and quickly find out that they are telling the truth.
Who is the stranger? Do you actually have magical powers? Can you become the next Wizard’s Apprentice?”
I heard about this game from my reviewer friend Mairi over at The Escape Roomer and was charmed enough by the review to order this box from the UK and patiently wait for it to make its way over the Atlantic and to my doorstep. It arrived in a fairly nondescript box, flat and wide, with nothing but the company logo printed on it. Inside was an envelope, two locked plastic bags, a “Start Here” card, and a wand.
The first thing I noticed was the quality of the locks used on the envelopes, they are made of metal and the bags they’re in are a really sturdy, clear plastic. For the relatively cheap price level of the game, it was a really impressive touch. The rest of the components also shined and a few of them were clearly designed to be game souvenirs, assuming that you don’t reset and forward the game.
The game was really charming and featured some actual magical moments that reminded me a lot of the old David Copperfield specials I used to watch on TV as a kid:
I loved those specials so much as a kid, and it was really nice to be reminded of their existence.
I had some minor puzzling quibbles that I’ll talk about in the “Puzzle Play” section below, but aside from those quibbles the gameplay went more-or-less smoothly, taking me about two hours to play through on my own. It wasn’t the most mind-blowing gaming experience I’ve had lately, but not every game needs to be that, this was good, solid fun.
There’s no way around it, this game is clearly, obviously heavily inspired by Harry Potter. There are cheeky references to the Ministry of Magic, four schools of Magic (with trademarked house names replaced by the four classic elements), bespoke wands, broomsticks with model names that sound like sports-cars, and an extended Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them parody. I would have liked it to have been something a bit less obviously-Potter-influenced (especially as of late), but I can see where a UK-based game company making a game about wizards might feel the obligation to nod their hat towards that wizarding juggernaut. That said, my favorite parts of the game, narratively, were the parts that veered away from that influence.
The writing was pleasant and I really liked the modern touches the game brought to the table. For a game about wizards and magic there were a surprising amount of websites to navigate. It makes senes though! Why wouldn’t Wizards use the World Wide Web? Though they were less-reality bending, the websites reminded me a lot of Society of Curiosities, which is never a bad thing for a game to remind me of.
As I mentioned above, I really liked the inclusion of some actual magic tricks into the experience. It led to some really great “How did they do that?” moments and really helped elevate the game above “knockoff Harry Potter”.
The puzzle portion of this game was mostly good, but as mentioned above, I had some quibbles with them. There were a couple of puzzles where either the clues were ambiguous to the point where I had to check multiple answers in the answer fields. Afterwards I checked the hints and solutions to see if there was some sort of secondary clues I had missed, but if there were, the hint/solution system didn’t tell me about it. I feel like it could have used a little more time in the playtesting oven to weed these issues out. It wasn’t a dealbreaker, but it did break immersion and was slightly frustrating.
The puzzles were on the easier side, nothing in here really stumped me. Though, I did appreciate the variety of the puzzles, many of which fed into a master logic puzzle that acted as the final puzzle of the game. If I had one critique of that logic puzzle, it’s that I wish they had come up with a more creative way to check that you’ve solved it correctly. The current method feels a little too much like a quiz, and less like a climactic puzzle moment.
I was pleased to see that one puzzle that seemed to rely on color also used shapes as a secondary means of identification. It’s a minor thing, but I will always call out colorblind-friendly color puzzles in games when I see them.
This would be an ideal game to introduce some younger players into the hobby. The narrative and puzzles seemed perfectly geared towards that. But it won’t be much of a challenge for seasoned enthusiasts.
If you’re living in the U.K., then it’s definitely worth it’s relatively cheap price and will provide you with a fun two hours of play.
If you’re in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, the costs of importing make it a harder recommend. You’ll have a fun time with it, but the game isn’t a must-play.
Type of Game: At Home Puzzle Game
Date Played: 2021-04-26
Company: Breakout Unboxed
Team Size: 1