Review – The Society of Curiosities’ 3 Digital Games (The Glasshouse Ghost, The Bewitched Circus, and Mysterious Map Heist)
Website Link – https://www.societyofcuriosities.com/games/digital/
Price – ranges from $12-15 per game
Disclaimer: we purchased the games with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.
The Society of Curiosities offers a wide range of products: mysteries in a box, subscription boxes, and 100% digital experiences. This post will look specifically at their 100% digital offerings. There are currently three different digital experiences, each with their own puzzles, stories, and theming. The games range from $12-$15 and advertise 45-90 minute play-times.
Once you pay, you get a digital code to set up your online account and access your game(s). This takes less than 5 minutes to set up, so you can begin playing almost immediately. The Glasshouse Ghost is entirely web-based and requires players to be in the same location.
The other two games (The Bewitched Circus, Mysterious Map Heist) are also web-based, but offer players the ability to play individually, as a team in the same location, or as a team over multiple locations. For those two games, you also have the option to communicate through SMS or by using the messaging portal on the website. Our experience for all three games was played in a single location with just the two of us sharing a single computer; we also used the built-in messaging portal.
We played all three games back to back, from the newest release (The Glasshouse Ghost) to earliest (Mysterious Map Heist). While all three games are different, there are some similarities between all three that we wanted to highlight before giving our thoughts on each one.
The puzzles across the three games range from the easy to medium range. You’ll definitely have to put some clues together, but nothing should leave your brain completely fried. The Society of Curiosities’ website describes their games as appropriate for ages 12+ and we agreed with the age range. The puzzles are fun for experienced gamers, but a younger crowd should be able to solve most of them with little to no help. The puzzles and stories are also very linear, so it would be hard to get lost or too far from where the game is trying to lead you. This could be a plus for players or groups which find too many puzzles at once distracting or don’t like the idea of being handed a lot of information with no direction.
Each game has you messaging an a.i. which represents someone out in the field doing what you tell them. The messaging system is well done. It never got stuck on trying to get us to give super specific responses and it understood our orders quite well, whether we were more detailed or just gave a few key words. If the a.i. doesn’t understand your message or thinks you’re way off base, it will respond with “***” which is simple, but it works well. The responses from the a.i provide forward momentum while keeping players immersed in the story. However, we did find the a.i. humorous sometimes with how dense the character it represented could be. Obviously, we as players are meant to be the ones actually solving the mysteries so it is to be expected, but it’s funny when the answers start to come together and the a.i. is still completely dependent on you.
The games all also offer a tiered hint system to slowly lead you toward the correct answer if you need help. We felt we had a good handle on the majority of puzzles, so we only used it once. The hint system did its job when we called upon it.
With that said, on-to the individual reviews!
The Glasshouse Ghost
Time Spent: A Little Less Than 1 Hr
As the newest experience from the Society of Curiosities, it’s probably not a surprise that The Glasshouse Ghost definitely felt the most polished and technologically advanced of all three digital games. The story behind the mystery is engaging and it’s fun that it is in collaboration with the real life Winchester Mystery House. We especially liked that our helpful a.i Taylor actually had a voice associated with him – it made the experience feel all that more interactive and engaging (and also more enjoyable to make fun of him as we solved the puzzles he couldn’t).
The puzzles themselves were relatively straightforward, but the story had a good flow and we enjoyed the experience of watching everything unfold. We also liked that artifacts vanished once no longer useful, so you didn’t have to wonder whether a piece of information was still helpful or not. It was so enthralling that when we finished, we immediately decided to purchase the other two games and play them on the spot. We have a pretty big backlog of puzzle options, so it says a lot about the game that it grabbed our attention so intently.
The Glasshouse Ghost was Confetti’s favorite of the three games.
The Bewitched Circus
Time Spent: About 1 hr exactly
This outing had us looking into witches and the mystery of a missing hand. The story did a good job of creating and giving character to both a small town and a circus. Unlike Glasshouse Ghost which had all its elements in one place, The Bewitched Circus will have you looking for and using clues found outside of the game’s own website. This does a better job of making you feel like you’re dealing with a true-life case and pulling elements from the real world. We enjoyed the story’s humor, especially when it came to the circus’ advertisements.
Between all three games, this one probably had the hardest puzzles (it was where we used a hint – a true d’oh! moment for us; we’d solved it but then significantly over thought it) and ones that felt more like traditional puzzles you might typically see in these types of games.
The Bewitched Circus was Chaos’ favorite of the three games.
Mysterious Map Heist
Time Spent: About 30 minutes
Mysterious Map Heist is the simplest and shortest of the three games. It definitely feels like an earlier iteration of what Society of Curiosities does with their other digital experiences. After playing the other two longer games, this one felt like it flew by.
Here, the society has found a coded book and needs your help cracking its mystery. Again, you’ll use a mix of what the game provides you directly and what you can track down online to solve the case. This experience leans a little more deduction based. It also has a mechanic we haven’t seen in other online puzzle games, which was a fun surprise.
Our overall impression is that all three games were worth it, especially for their low price and easy to jump into nature. The games are well programmed and the puzzles are integrated nicely into their stories. We might suggest that these experiences are best for one or two players. We’re not sure there is enough to really justify a larger group tackling the game together, but your mileage may vary. We would definitely recommend starting with the Mysterious Map Heist, as it is definitely the most simplistic of the three experiences, and then moving on to The Bewitched Circus and/or The Glasshouse Ghost.