The Scattered Cards
The Scattered Cards
- Played December 2020
- 3-4 hours
- 2-4 players
- Subscriptions offered
- What People Say
The ERA team enjoyed playing this game created by the Enigma Fellowship. As the review will explain, there were some strong points to this game, however, we do offer our feedback to help the creators further refine and develop this game experience.
The scene is set when we opened the very first manila envelope. You are working with the police department to solve various kidnappings. As is to be expected with this kind of work, a paper trail naturally ensues. However, we found that there was an exorbitant amount of paper and reading throughout the whole game. We recognize that the incentive for a paper driven game is to help reduce shipping costs and environmental impact. The envelopes and some paper samples, such as a newspaper, were very authentic. For the most part, every envelope was filled with typical printer paper and undistinguishable font or images that lead to a very cluttered playing table. The game has a good website to drive the story line forward and navigate the hint system. While there were some fun audio clips, both the online narration and hint system were very wordy and took a long time to read through to sift for the necessary information. The team sees that the potential is there for good game quality, and we would recommend that the paper usage is reduced with more online videos and physical objects and less text to read through.
The Scattered Cards has the foundation for an engaging storyline. However, we found that it was very challenging to be immersed because there was too much paper and content to sift through. We recognize that this heavy reliability on paper does fit the theme of being a detective, however we’d suggest developing further audio and visual recordings to supplement the paper usage. The puzzles didn’t connect very well to the storyline either, and we found that there were many steps and a lot of leg-work to complete even just one puzzle. By the time the puzzle was solved, the urgency of solving it in relation to solving the kidnappings was lost and the solutions at times didn’t further the storyline. We would love to see the Engima Fellowship take on a “less gum, more chewing” approach: scale back on the breadth of the storyline to focus on diving deep with refined content to help build an immersive experience.
In addition to having a lot of paper and reading in this game, there were a lot of puzzles. For every puzzle to complete there was a lot of legwork, smaller puzzles and a few red herrings that resulted in some unsatisfying payoffs when arriving at the solution. After completing the game, we were questioning if we even used every envelope to complete the story. Apart from having one puzzle that used photography, every other puzzle lacked connection to the storyline. Although the game appears to start off in a non-linear fashion, it became clear to us that there was a certain intended order of completion. While we appreciate the enthusiasm to make a jam-packed experience, we found that the puzzles need to be pared back and that the solutions need to be very clear to show how to navigate the game play. We relied on the hint system extensively to help navigate not only the puzzles, but the sheer volume of text as well. Some puzzles were broken because even after receiving all the hints to a puzzle, and reading what the solution was, we still struggled to understand it. We hope that the Enigma Fellowship will be able to tweak the pace and flow of the puzzles and to provide clear solutions to the player on how to advance the game further.
Overall, we enjoyed some aspects of the game but felt bogged down with the sheer amount of paper and reading, both on physical print and online. This game was “consistently inconsistent.” For example, some puzzles were clear to complete whereas others seemed to have no impact on the storyline and were a struggle to complete. The quality was good; however, the overuse of regular paper took away from the experience. The online hint system seemed very glitchy and inconsistent case sensitivity put a few pauses on our game progression. Despite being a clunky game, we did enjoy this experience. We wonder if this would be tough to play in a large group because of everyone having to gather to read the papers together. We think if this game were scaled back, or divided into smaller installment games, with a refined storyline and puzzle experience, that this would help to improve the overall game play.