Review – Parallel Lab by Eleven Puzzles
Website Link – https://elevenpuzzles.com
Price – $20, but currently available for $16 if you’d like to pre-order (game officially releases on 4/28/22)
Disclaimer: while we were very kindly provided with a free game experience to review, all thoughts are our own!
Parallel Lab is a follow up to Eleven Puzzles’ previous cooperative puzzle adventure: Unboxing the Mind of a Cryptic Killer. While the story continues from their first experience, the puzzles themselves do not require any background knowledge from the first game, so completely new players should have no issue jumping in.
Each team will need their own separate devices as players will be split onto two parallel paths working their way through a mysterious electronics shop (lab). Teams will attempt to solve puzzles using their smarts and communication skills. During each level, the teams will be presented with similarly themed but different information and objects to work with. Players need to figure out how the different clues fit together and what to do with what they discover.
If the players solve all the puzzles in their room they will be able to advance to the next set of puzzles until they finally reach the end of the narrative. The game experience is advertised as lasting about 90 – 120 minutes.
We were excited to tackle the next installment of the Cryptic Killer story, and were happy to find that this game is a worthy continuation of the first. The overall play elements of splitting and sharing information stayed the same, but the puzzles themselves and interactive elements have evolved enough to not feel like a retread. Parallel Lab is a fun cooperative experience that should have players delighting in their shared adventure.
The puzzles of Parallel Lab require players to communicate and describe what they see, but the puzzles don’t simply revolve only around descriptions. Once teams match up elements on their screens and share intel, they need to actually solve the puzzles together and get one another to do whatever is required for success. The shared information experience really helps each team feel involved and essential. You never have to worry about a single player dominating the puzzle solving.
Players who specialize in different skills should all feel welcome as the puzzle types vary with what they need: spatial reasoning, deductive prowess, riddle mastery, language skills, and more. Though the puzzles do take thought, the difficulty level remains overall pretty friendly and should be doable for the average player. If anyone does need help, the game has an easy to use built in hint system that is only a click away.
While the puzzles are standalone for this game, the narrative does continue from the first. New players could easily catch up and follow along or ignore the story all together if they are mainly focused on the puzzles, but we do suggest playing the first because it’s a fun experience in itself. We liked how the story was presented in a comic book style with panels and word bubbles, while still having voice actors perform the roles of the two detectives. The story created fun interludes between puzzles.
Fair warning, since this is neither the beginning nor the start of the Cryptic Killer saga, this is more like a chapter from a story than a complete tale on its own. We’ve enjoyed the series so far and we look forward to the next chapter when it arrives.
Our play time with Parallel Lab came in at about a little over two hours (time picture above is edited to avoid spoilers). We did have a slightly fussy baby along for the adventure, but we do feel the overall experience should take the advertised 90 minutes.
So far, Eleven Puzzles has impressed us with their cooperative puzzle adventures. They are great options whether you’re in the same room (like we were this time) or playing with friends further away (like we did with the first game).
Official C & C Rating:
Overall Fun: 4.5
Final Average Rating: 4/5