Review: Scarlet Envelopes 1 -3

Review – Envelopes 1 through 3 by Scarlet Envelope

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Price – ​​$30CAD (approximately $23.57 USD) per game

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

The Product:

The Scarlet Envelope is an at-home puzzling experience made up of both digital and physical components.  Players will be sent an envelope containing several puzzles and resources that will help them solve a mystery.  A cool and unique aspect of The Scarlet Envelope is that while each of their games can be played as standalone experiences, they can also be played as part of a larger story and mystery.  In total, there will be thirteen chapters.  Eight of them have been released so far with the ninth coming soon.

The envelopes can be purchased individually or as a monthly subscription.  They also offer a catch-up option where players can get all the released envelopes so far and then receive the remaining experiences as they are released.

Players will need an internet enabled device to play the games and to submit answers.

We have previously played and reviewed the 8th chapter: Dinner with Anonymous.  After enjoying it, we decided to go back to the beginning of the series and see how it all started.  This review will focus specifically on the first three chapters: Newspaper. Intro to Mysteries, Cabaret in Lapin Blanc, and Distress Call From Outer Space.

The game offers two levels of difficulty: starter and experienced.  We opted for the experienced level. The premises of our adventures will include an introduction to the Scarlet Letter adventures, a mysterious disappearance from a cabaret, and potential interplanetary war.

Our Thoughts:

As we stated above, we have previously played Scarlet Envelope’s Dinner with Anonymous and it ranked as one of our favorite puzzling experiences.  Going back to the beginning of the series, we went in with high hopes, but also with the understanding that these might not be of quite the same level of quality and refinement since they are earlier in the series.

We are happy to say that while none of the first three envelopes quite reach Dinner with Anonymous’ benchmark, they are all great adventures in their own right.  We really appreciate that each game feels like a solid stand alone game and unique from one another, but we’re also excited to eventually solve the puzzle that works as connective tissue between all thirteen games.  Players should feel good picking up any of these games individually, but from what we’ve played so far, the series seems worth going all in on as well.  

The Scarlet Envelope does a strong job of packing a lot into each envelope.  Each game took us about 90 minutes to two hours.  The components are of high quality and every game offered a good number of puzzles.  

Playing at the experienced level, we found the difficulty great for ourselves.  The challenge definitely had us thinking, but also mostly seemed doable in a way that made us feel satisfied when we finally cracked puzzles.  

We will admit that we did have to peek at the hints once or twice, but what we love about the hint system is that players need to solve a puzzle to get to the hints.  We find that both funny and enjoyable.

Every game had its own mini-story that the puzzles were themed to fit.  The games set up the premise and then interweave story clues and revelations throughout the experience.  None of the stories are overly complex, and they should be easy to follow along with as information is discovered.  It also makes us feel a bit better about taking a hint.

All of the adventures also come with a Spotify playlist specifically crafted for the experience.  This an extremely welcomed touch  It sets the mood perfectly and has introduced us to quite a few songs to save for later. 

The Individual Games:

I. Newspaper. Intro to Mysteries

As the chapter’s title suggests, the first game acts as an introduction to the series and system as a whole.  The story here is a little more barebones, but that is made up by the fact that the puzzles themselves are of high quality.

The cluing here is well done, so it shouldn’t take long for players to figure out what their end goal is and what they’ll have to solve to accomplish their journey.  The game made great use of the provided components.

Scarlet Envelope creates an intriguing intro to their multi-part adventure and it may be hard for players to not want to keep going after this first taste.

II. Cabaret in Lapin Blanc

The second chapter has players looking into the disappearance of a cabaret star.  This time around, the puzzles stay just as solid, but the story is given more attention as well.  Players should have fun learning more about the characters as they piece together clues.

This game has players working digitally a bit more, but still offers a lot to do with the physical components too.  We are happy to say the digital aspects are well-designed and easy to navigate, which perfectly complements the quality physical pieces provided.

This is a strong outing, especially for those who may enjoy puzzles placed in a more classic and vintage setting.

III. Distress Call from Outer Space

Chapter three has players dealing with both a distress call and the possibility of interplanetary war.  This outing also heavily features world-building and story.  This one also involves a lot more non-linear online tinkering and exploration.  We found that to be a bit less enjoyable personally, but it was not a deal breaker.

Thankfully, the puzzles remained solid and the physical components still delivered in terms of quality and puzzles.  

Of the three games we played, we preferred this one the least, but not so much that we would suggest anyone skip it (unless you really hate space and computers).

Final Thoughts:

The Scarlet Envelope series has been a great journey for us so far and we look forward to completing the other four chapters we’ve missed before continuing on with the story as it’s released.  We highly recommend these games as either standalone or as part of the larger series.

Official C&C Rating:

Narrative: 4/5

Puzzles: 4/5

Overall Fun: 4/5

Total Averaged Rating: 4/5

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