Review – The Wilson Wolfe Affair by Simulacra Games
Website Link – https://simulacragames.com
Price – N/A currently out of print. We paid approximately $330 USD for the platinum version in June 2019 from the Simulacra Games website.
Disclaimer: we purchased the game with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.
The Wilson Wolfe Affair is a massive at-home puzzling experience that delves deep into the secrets and mysteries behind a classic cartoon.
The premise has players stumbling upon an old box of Wilson Wolfe memorabilia and goodies, including posters, newspapers, journal entries, games, letters, toys, artwork and more. It won’t take long to see that there is something deeper going on with what’s been found, possibly something more sinister. This is where players will discover that there are numerous codes, puzzles, and hidden messages throughout the boxload of components. What is the truth behind the Wilson Wolfe cartoons and what exactly were its creators involved in?
Released as a Kickstarter by Simulacra Games, The Wilson Wolfe Affair was sold at three different tiers: silver, gold, and platinum. The higher levels added more goodies to go through, more lore to explore, and more puzzles to crack. Our review will be of the platinum level which included all the designers had to offer.
The game is appropriate for teens and older. The designers were unwilling to commit to a predicted gameplay length but no matter which level a player chooses, there is a guarantee of hours upon hours of gameplay included.
We tackled The Wilson Wolfe Affair as a four person group. Our group gathered for multiple full day (5 hour+) play sessions that focused solely on solving the Wilson Wolfe mysteries. With so much time and effort invested, was it worth it? Absolutely!
The game begins with a quick and basic letter to set up the premise and vague goals, and then let players go from there. There is very little obvious signposting. The game wants players to truly feel like they stumbled upon a box of memorabilia and documents that were never meant to be put together and solved by outsiders. This creates an interesting balance between the joy of successfully hunting down leads which build to solved mysteries and the danger of feeling completely lost.
When we had gameplay elements clicking and answers coming together, we felt amazing and truly appreciated the depth of design the game offered. There were also moments where we spent large chunks of time simply reading through what we had and familiarizing ourselves with the content because we had no clue what else to do. Wilson Wolfe is definitely a game best tackled by seasoned puzzlers who are willing to persevere and work hard. (The one suggestion we might offer potential Wilson Wolfe adventurers is to start with the animator’s diary. It works as a nice backbone to large sections of the game). The actual gameplay doesn’t hold your hand and expects players to either know how to crack certain puzzle types or be willing to do a bit of research on their own. As an extra bonus to the game, we learned a lot about puzzles.
Thankfully, the game does have a website which provides a very thorough and well put together progressive hint system that carefully outlines puzzles and gives players as much or as little help as they might want.
The game has a lot of narrative to go through, which we thought was well done and very interesting. It also helps that the story is presented in so many different ways (art, writings, videos, etc.) and that there is the fun of deducing elements of the story. Whether you’re a fan of classic animation or not, the story should still be pretty accessible and engaging. Again, there is a lot though, so it’s easy for the story to feel all over the place or disjointed if you don’t take notes, keep track of story threads carefully, or make sure to share what you’ve found with your team.
Speaking of teams, this is definitely a game that works well with a group. Since there is so much material to sift through, we never felt like we were getting in each other’s way or leaving someone with nothing to do. Whether we worked individually, collaborated in small groups, or pooled all our efforts together, the game worked well as a team effort.
We would also like to applaud the actual quality and variety of components this game includes. The designers did a wonderful job of creating a vast array of items for players to explore. Along with standard fare such as letters, newspapers, and journal entries, players will get to work with playhouses, puzzles, viewfinders, and other really unique components. Everything is of the utmost quality while still capturing the feel of items leftover from the 1930s.
Our Wilson Wolfe experience was memorable and mostly fun (frustration did set in as we got stuck a few times). The game offered tons of bang for our buck. Simulacra Games put together a fantastic experience and if they ever do put out another game, we wouldn’t be able to resist getting it.
If you can get your hands on a copy of The Wilson Wolfe Affair, we would definitely recommend it. Other than components that get assembled, which shouldn’t impact players’ ability to solve anything, assuming items are not handled with unnecessary roughness, the game should be fully resettable. Hopefully you get the chance to experience the game someday, or hopefully other publishers dare design games as sprawling and deep as The Wilson Wolfe Affair in the future.
Official C&C Rating:
Overall Fun: 4/5
Total Averaged Rating: 4.5/5