Jigsaws with a twist
Jigsaw puzzles always make me feel nostalgic.
They remind me of being a kid during school holidays. Many afternoons were spent at the table in my nan’s house where we’d sit together looking at the pieces. An old film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would be on the television in the background while a slice of fruitcake waited nearby.
I made a return to jigsaws, like many people, during the COVID-19 lockdowns here in the UK. After working solely from home for months and spending days staring at a screen during conference calls, it was nice to be able to do something away from my desk. That period also allowed me to discover that it didn’t have to be just about putting an image together any longer.
I’ve continued collecting puzzles since then and over the past several years, have found several series where forming the picture is just the beginning. It can incorporate a twist which leads to the second part of the game. An image might contain clues which point you towards an escape from a mysterious room, the culprit of a horrible murder, or a humorous situation.
Such jigsaws have made a few appearances on the Later Levels’ Twitch channel in recent times, usually with Zelda rolling around on the table or trying to steal the pieces. I’ve also had the pleasure of doing cooperative puzzle streams with friend-of-the-blog Darkshoxx during which his kitten crow has caused just as much mischief. If you’re looking for something a little different to pass the time this long Easter weekend, why not consider trying one of the following?
My stepson usually comes over to help if I’m at the table with a jigsaw. So, when he started reading Agatha Christie novels last year, I decided to pick up the Murder on the Nile version from University Games’ Murder Mystery Party series. You’re provided with booklet with a short story about Hercule Poirot’s trip to Egypt before being tasked to create the image and figure out whodunnit. The puzzle is far more difficult to solve than the mystery itself so this one is better for classic jigsaw enthusiasts.
It was the Space Observatory version of the Ravensburger’s Escape Puzzle range which first got me into jigsaws with a twist. These consist of pieces which fit together in multiple places so you can form objects which will assist in your ‘escape’ from the depicted scenario. I’ve since tried the Witch’s Kitchen and Wolf Stories versions too and they’ve all been quite hard, so it’s best to check the difficulty rating on the box before making a purchase. This is a range which is probably better suited to experienced adventures.
Exit: The Game
After playing a couple of Thames & Kosmos’s EXIT: The Game escape-rooms-in-boxes, I was excited to pick up The Deserted Lighthouse jigsaw version while visiting the UK Games Expo in June last year. Putting together the puzzle and solving the clues within the image allows you to move on to the next scenario and progress the story. This range seems to have a particular kind of logic to it which takes a little while to grasp. So stick with it, and make sure you listen to the atmospheric soundtrack on the associated mobile app while you play along.
Murder Most Puzzling
The Clairvoyant’s Convention version of Chronicle Book’s Murder Most Puzzling range is perhaps the easiest option on todays list. A murder has been committed and you can help the detective find the perpetrator by putting together the visual clues within the picture. While there isn’t a lot of challenge here for experience adventures, it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon. It doesn’t feel as though it drags on for too long, is relatively easy to solve and its packaging is some of the nicest I’ve seen for a puzzle.
Murder Mystery Party: Case Files
When trying to find something on Amazon one day, the Murder on the Underground version from University Games’ Murder Mystery: Case Files series appeared in the suggestions. I decided to purchase it on a whim and didn’t regret it. The box contains one large puzzle showing a police investigation board, along with five smaller ‘evidence’ jigsaws and a folder full of supporting documents and items. The trail of clues left within all of these will eventually lead you to the killer and solve the case.
Scene of the Crime
The Stolen Necklace Mystery version of the Scene of the Crime series by Goliath is my most recent jigsaw purchase. I even managed to persuade Darkshoxx to pick up a copy for a collaborative stream a few weeks ago. We’re only halfway through at the time of writing this post but it’s turning out to be one of the weirdest puzzles I’ve ever put together. Some pieces don’t interlock and only align by straight edges and, instead of one large jigsaw, there seem to be several smaller ones in a triangle shape. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.
The Talking Jigsaw Puzzle!
I’d never heard of Buffalo Games’ The Talking Jigsaw! puzzle range until Darkshoxx suggested I pick up the Office Building version for a stream together. These can be hard to find as they’re rather old, so eBay is your friend if you’d like to track them down. You first put together smaller scenes consisting of four pieces each, and then have to figure out the placement of these within the larger scene based on the conversations being had by the characters within them. We’ve both managed to track down The Beach version too so expect another stream soon.
Friends-of-the-blog Tim and Jake very kindly sent me the A Typical British Barbecue version from the WASGIJ puzzle range for Christmas several years. This series is less serious than the others in today’s list and relies on comedy to make it fun. The image depicted on the box is slightly different from the one you’re trying to create, so you must use your imagination and the clues provided to piece together what happens next. There are plenty of options available on the website along with hints in case you get stuck.
While finding the relevant links for this post, I came across another series I’d never heard of: The Alphabet Murder Puzzle Series by TDC Games. These contain two separate puzzles for a ‘before’ and ‘after’ crime scene – but all the pieces are mixed together in the same box and there’s no artwork to guide you. I have a feeling that the A is for Arson version might be my next purchase (might as well start at the beginning) and there could possibly be some more jigsaw streams on the Later Levels’ Twitch channel soon.
Are there any jigsaws-with-a-twist you can recommend? I’d love to hear your suggestions and expand my collection even further.