With the UK lockdown in force until at least May, many people are finding they have plenty of spare time on their hands. While playing video games is a very worthwhile pastime, some are using these extra hours to discover hobbies they haven’t tried before or learn new skills.
Not only have I been able to knock a few titles off my gaming backlog, I’ve returned to a cross-stich kit that I bought about a year ago but never got around to starting properly. I’ve also been making bread by hand for the first time now that yeast is back in stock at the supermarket, thanks to some handy tips from the gorgeous Teri-Mae from Sheikah Plate. Unfortunately though, eating all the results has caused me to put on a bit of weight so who knows: I might even start running again next week too.
I’m finding that so much of my life right now – keeping up with family, work, socialising and entertainment – is taking place on a screen, that it’s been nice to spend some time away from my laptop. My other-half and I decided to keep this going by doing a jigsaw puzzle a few weeks ago instead of picking up our controllers. You may have seen us start it during our 50-day challenge for GameBlast20 but not finish due to several cat-related incidents so, keeping Zelda to one side, we went back in for a second attempt.
The jigsaw in question was Space Observatory from the Ravensburger Exit Puzzle range. This was suggested to me by Katie from Musings of a nitpicking girl in December after I mentioned gifting my stepson an escape-room-in-a-box for Christmas. The concept appealed to me straight away because, after completing my first escape room at the start of 2019 with the awesome Tim and Jake from Timlah’s Text & Unity3D Tech, I became hooked and went on to do seven over the course of the year.
Each of the puzzles has a loose narrative to get you in the mood. The leaflet in the box told us that ours began when we noticed a strange light in the sky during an evening stroll. Out of sheer curiosity, we headed to the astronomy section at a nearby library and found a piece of paper hidden in a book entitled Discovering Outer Space. The note gave an alarming message from Professor F. Gamomaeus about a meteorite racing towards Earth and it was up to us to prevent the collision.
The official website advises that puzzles are unique because the cutting process means the 759-pieces can fit together in multiple places, allowing you to form items to assist in your escape. The first part of the challenge is to finish the jigsaw and this took Pete and I several hours over a two-day period. I’m pleased to say that although the cat made a few appearances, all pieces were present and so you can rest assured that no animals were harmed in the writing of this review.
The image you’re trying to create is slightly different to the one on the box but it’s possible to use this as a guide to get started. You’ll then notice six clues hidden within the picture once it’s complete and solving these will give you a list of numbers. I’ve played plenty of adventure games over the years and Pete is a great player-two for the genre so we felt pretty confident, but both of us struggled a little here because you’re not given any indication of where to start or what to do.
We had to resort to visiting the escapepuzzlesupport website for guidance. Once we’d seen how the first clue worked however, we found that we easily solved the others – except for one. Making the puzzle pieces fit together in multiple places sounds like a great idea, but I can confirm that it’s not when you’re trying to find star constellations and then realise they don’t match any of the options you’re provided with. It was slightly frustrating having to break up a section of the jigsaw and redo it.
Each border piece has a number worked into its image so once you’ve solved your clues, you must find the associated part. These then fit together to form an object to help you escape the situation in the storyline and, in our case, this was a laser used to shatter the meteorite. It’s once again a clever idea that didn’t really work in practise. It would have been more entertaining if the leaflet that came with the puzzle hadn’t told us that this was the item we were searching for so we could have figured it out for ourselves.
Although we needed the website above for guidance this time around, I don’t think it would be necessary to check it again for future entries in the Escape Puzzle range because we now know what’s expected of us. We just needed a little push in the right direction, that’s all. But both Pete and I agreed that we got more enjoyment from completing the jigsaw itself than the escape element. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, because that’s the majority of what this experience involves.
We had fun though and it was nice doing something together away from our laptops for a while. There are several activities you can do that don’t involve playing a video game but still give you the same feeling, and this turned out to be one of them. We haven’t yet tried the Monochrome Inc. entry from Kosmos Games’ Adventure Game series which I purchased at the same time as the jigsaw. Perhaps that will be next and if so, I’ll write up another review to let you know how it goes.
The Escape Puzzles are currently sold out in most places thanks to the lockdown but I’ve pre-ordered the Witch’s Kitchen version and will hopefully receive it soon. Who knows, there might be another jigsaw stream coming – and I wouldn’t be surprised if Zelda tries to ‘help’ again.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.