Review – Angels and Airwaves: Lifeforms, a Dispatch Box by Breakout Games

Review – Angels and Airwaves: Lifeforms, a Dispatch box presented by Breakout Games

Website Linkhttps://breakoutgames.com/dispatch 

Price – $29.00

Disclaimer: we purchased the game with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.

A little background:

As lovers of escape rooms, we tried many different companies and Breakout Games is a chain that we’ve frequented regularly as they’ve released new rooms over the years.  Several years ago, when they began offering a monthly subscription to an at home puzzle box, we signed right up.  We were all in on Breakout Games’ Dispatch service.  This was one of our first introductions to the at home puzzle genre.  We liked the idea of a puzzle-based, mystery narrative that spanned several months worth of packages.  The games and boxes improved over time, but we always enjoyed their strong blend of physical and virtual puzzles, which opened up compelling narratives along the way.

Sadly, not many others must have been as interested in the Dispatch service.  Whenever we visited their in-person escape rooms, the Breakout employees would go through the routine of mentioning Dispatch and then would be surprised to meet people who actually subscribed to it.  After about two years of monthly boxes, Breakout Games stated that they would be discontinuing the Dispatch service and our orders stopped coming.  It was a bit of a bummer, but by then we discovered many other at home games and the void left by Dispatch wasn’t too bad.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2021 and Confetti bought Chaos Angels and Airwaves: Lifeforms , a Dispatch box presented by Breakout Games (a mouthful, we know).  Dispatch was back!  Could it recapture the magic of old?  We couldn’t wait to find out!

The Product:

Angels and Airwaves: Lifeforms, a Dispatch box presented by Breakout Games is a mystery in a box adventure.  The goal is to use a mix of physical and digital tools and resources to crack puzzles and ultimately solve a larger mystery.  Lifeforms is Breakout Games’ return to at-home puzzling after discontinuing the Dispatch service a few years ago.  Breakout Games formerly offered a monthly subscription service that had multiple boxes linked together to tell a larger narrative, with information and puzzles from one box possibly being used again in later boxes in the series.  Their newest box breaks their previous style by instead offering a single stand alone adventure.  You’ll still work with a mix of virtual and physical resources, but the entire story and mystery is all found in one package.

Lifeforms focuses on the mysterious reappearance of a missing woman.  Can you get to the bottom of what happened and why there are so many other unexplained phenomena surrounding the case?

Note: They still offer their previous Dispatch series, but instead sell them as entire sets instead of a monthly experience.  We suppose you can choose whether to portion them out month by month or power through them at a quicker pace.

Our thoughts:

Chaos, cracking the case

We went into Lifeforms with high hopes.  Cracking open the box was like revisiting an old friend.  The package and presentation felt familiar.  Bailey’s Detective Agency still acted as their hint service, but it now also prompted you to reach out to their online community as well.  A nice mix of old and new.

First off, if you didn’t know that Angels and Airwaves is an actual band that has been performing since the early 2000s and that Lifeforms is one of their albums, that might be a fun fact to learn.  We were unaware, but quickly discovered it as the box acted as a strange bit of marketing for the band.  The box doesn’t super push the band on you, but you definitely have the opportunity to become more familiar with them through this experience.  Odd, but true.

Dispatch boxes seem to work best for those who like to figure things out with less guidance and hand holding.  After being given the premise, you are provided a box of items and some information, and told to figure it out from there.  What are you supposed to do with everything and what online tools might you need?  That’s your job!  

Dispatch has a tendency to be on the more difficult side.  Hopefully you don’t mind powering through since hints and help can be harder to get.  Breakout’s help service works through email, so it can be slower (we base this off their initial box service, since we did not use their email this time).  They also suggest you check in with their online community, but then you have to hope you find help and that people are able to give you information without being too vague or just spoiling answers completely.  Tread carefully.

Overall, we hate to say it, but this Dispatch offering does not measure up to what we remember from their initial incarnations.  There is still an engaging mystery and the puzzles felt similar to ones of old, but the experience didn’t feel great the entire way through.  Lifeforms seemed to provide a lot more red herrings and useless resources than previous boxes.  Maybe we inadvertently skipped some steps, but we definitely completed the game without using at least a third of the items in a meaningful way.  

The story also felt a little more flat with a less satisfying ending.  It’s hard for one box to match up to a series of puzzle boxes, but Lifeforms’ story didn’t feel as strong compared to other stand alone boxes we’ve completed from other companies either.

If you’re looking for a new at-home puzzle box experience, while we wouldn’t recommend against Lifeforms, but we might suggest trying Dispatch’s over series first instead, or maybe just going with a different company all together.  Don’t worry; you can still listen to the band Angels and Airwaves without doing anything Dispatch related.

Personally, we still have a nostalgia factor for Dispatch though, so if they end up offering another box, we’ll probably be letting you know how that one rates as well.

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