Carte Rouge

6.1 Overall
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From the creative minds at The Enigma Emporium a new immersive, puzzle, card game is coming your way… Carte Rouge! In this game you’ve been asked for help from an associate who needs you to unravel the mystery of her latest acquisition…a deck of cards! “Wait, did you say a deck of cards? As in a standard deck of cards?” Yup that’s correct, but your associate encourages you to look closer because she can’t shake the feeling there’s something far more important about this particular deck of cards… Can you discover what’s different about this deck of cards and can you unlock the hidden puzzles, riddles, and messages contained within….Carte Rouge?

This was an interesting one to say the least. The component quality is pretty much what you’d expect from the prologue…it’s a deck of cards…no more, no less. The deck is nicely designed, but the biggest drawback here is the sizing of the font and the cards themselves, (we’ll continue more about this a bit later). What makes this game a bit funny is that you can use these cards as a regular playing deck. Some people may not even realize there’s a game contained within because of the artful style and design of the graphics. In any event, apart from the size and font, there’s nothing particularly bad about the cards, but it’s all you’ll receive which may leave some people wishing there was more.

The immersion is where we spent most of our time in reflection after playing this game. There’s an impressively planned immersive component to this game. The problem is you may never reach it or get to experience it because it’s blocked by a lot of complex puzzles. We certainly don’t want to give any spoilers, but it’s important to know in advance these puzzles do lead to something ‘else’ that opens up a deeper (and continuing) story when you’ve hit a certain point. It took our team about 5-6hrs of hard puzzle grinding to get there however. Was it worth the wait, and did the immersive aspect of the game itself keep us going? If we’re being honest, it’s mostly ‘no’ with a hint of ‘yes’. The end interesting and engaging, but as you can imagine, the process of grinding our way there was difficult in keeping our interest levels, attention span, and feeling ‘in the moment’. The size of the cards also played a role in our feeling disconnected because it was impossible to have two people studying the same card at the same time. Non-USA audiences should also be made aware there’s a fairly high degree of American based information. Thematically, the cards could have also been a bit larger and more ‘aged’ looking to fit with the overall narrative. The occasional ‘’Aha!’’ moment did provide a temporary interest boost, but that’s more of a puzzle flow reflection…

We should probably state the obvious first: This game is designed for the enjoyment of puzzle enthusiasts. Again, it took a team of 3 ERA puzzle enthusiasts 5-6hrs to crack some (not all, but enough) of the puzzles contained within the deck of cards. The problem of not having an immediate or interactive hint system that goes hand in hand with the game is also going to slow most people’s progress. Don’t get us wrong however, if you love puzzles…really complex puzzles designed specifically for hard core puzzle enthusiasts who don’t mind spending hours looking at the same piece of information and/or pattern, then you WILL get your money’s worth here. In our case this level of interest applied to some of us, but not all of us. Among us we had one member who after an hour of not feeling like we progressed fast enough, became frustrated and disengaged. This was again in part because of the font and size of the cards themselves which don’t allow more than one person to examine them at a time. The second member was able to keep their interest heightened for a couple hours, but couldn’t take being stationary for that long and eventually had to move around to the point where they became disengaged. Our final hard core puzzle enthusiast stuck it out until they were able to gather enough information to unlock what we needed. Which brings us to our next point, and one we couldn’t fully understand from a game design aspect. The Carte Rouge puzzles are impressive, well planned, and complex… but we were surprised to find out they weren’t all necessary. You only need a certain amount of information contained within the cards in order to proceed to the end. It might be intentional design to allow players to unlock and reveal different pieces of information in a non-linear fashion, but we can’t help but feel the Enigma Emporium team really robbed themselves of the praise they rightly deserve. They clearly put a LOT of work into this game, but when the game took several hours to complete and most of our team had already lost their concentration levels, it was a no-brainer to skip the parts we didn’t need to complete (we guesstimate it being 1/3 of the game). If there’s one thing the ERA team believes in most, it’s that owners & designers ALWAYS deserve recognition for the hard work they put into a game (the game may or may not be to people’s liking, but the amount of work always deserves to be recognized and applauded in our opinion – and far too often self-proclaimed critics forget this). We loved the effort shown in making these puzzles…but we were heartbroken much of it will go unrecognized because of the way the puzzle flow is designed.

So is this a game we recommend? If you’re a die-hard puzzle enthusiast who enjoys spending hours figuring something out with momentary ‘’aha!’’ moments to keep you going…then yes this game is for you. If however you’re a casual puzzle enthusiast, or don’t have much experience with puzzles requiring deep levels of concentration we’d strongly suggest either playing Carte Rouge with someone who is, or perhaps veering towards another game and working your way up to this one. We always want to end on a positive note, and it does need to be said that we couldn’t stop admiring the level of planning and execution of this game (particularly as it related to the story and puzzles). We all agreed Carte Rouge is a good game, it just needs to be more accessible for the common person. We’re excited to see what the Enigma Emporium has coming up next as they continue their adventure…

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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