- Played July 2017
- Length of time depends on player
- Can be played alone or in a group
- $16.19 on Amazon.com
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- What People Say
For 28 weeks, nothing happened, but on the 29th week a research team at a top secret excavation site mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Journal 29 is the only remaining research book found where the team was last known to be, and chronicles the team’s last known discoveries.
Described as an “interactive book game”, Journal 29 is a great collection of puzzles that can scratch that puzzle itch for puzzle enthusiasts. The main advantage, of course, is being able to work on it at a desk, on your couch, or in your bed. You can put it down if you need take a break (there’s no 60 minute timer here!) and pick it back up at your convenience. You can play it alone for an extra challenge or in a group as we did.
The quality of the book is fairly standard: it’s no leather-bound hardcover masterpiece, but instead reflects a more realistic “softcover research notebook with notes scrawled inside” style of book. The cover and the artwork inside are beautiful but eerie; it immersively sets the tone of the game.
The 63 puzzles vary in difficulty, with some dead giveaways and others requiring prior knowledge (or a fair amount of googling) to solve.
One of the more fascinating aspects of Journal 29 was finding out who knew what tidbit of trivia that was relevant to completing the puzzle. While one player may find Puzzle #1 easy and Puzzle #2 impossible, a different player may think the exact opposite! Either way, each player who completes Journal 29 will get personalized experience. It makes the “”what-did-you-think-of-puzzle-X”” conversation a lot of fun. The experience is reminiscent of riddle apps like none* or Abstract.
There is a heavy emphasis on technology throughout the pages of Journal 29. The main game mechanic, which involves typing each level’s password into your phone, requires an internet connection to play. Other puzzles branch out into the real world, by requiring props that are commonly found throughout the home. While Journal 29 is playable from the comfort of your living room, it would be hard to finish on your subway commute or camping trip.
The left page of each puzzle is a massive QR code and a ton of unused white space. While this is useful the first time, these QR codes take up half the book with instruction / directory. While the book may be 120+ pages long, you can only solve 63 single-page-puzzles because every other page is the same instruction. You’d also need a separate app to scan the QR code, so typing in the link would probably be faster, or simply pressing “next” after you’ve solved a puzzle will take you to the next page. This makes the jaunting QR codes rather redundant.
This is a confusing design choice because the book’s art is beautiful and detailed; the experience pulls you in, but only on half of the pages. Each two-page spread dedicates one page to a puzzle left behind by disappearing scientists, and one full page reminding you to go to the website to type in your solution.
This design flaw would’ve been a quick fix too: almost all of the puzzles could easily have been stretched out to expand over two pages, or written notes that developed the story could’ve been put where the QR codes were.
In the end, Journal 29 is not an escape experience, but exactly what it says on the tin: an Interactive Book Game. It is really good at what it does. The puzzles are brilliant, the art is beautiful, and the experience is a lot of fun. Don’t expect too much in the way of story-telling though, because this is a game that is best for puzzle-enthusiasts through and through.