Cottage in the Woods
Cottage in the Woods
- Played January 2021
- 1-2 hours
- 2-4 players
- What People Say
This game is played where the team downloads a PDF that is full of text and pictures. There is a secondary link where the team then enters the answer to the puzzle to see if it is correct before continuing on to the next puzzle. For the story narrative, we enjoyed the illustrations that were included. Every picture played a role and this helped to make the puzzles solvable. The images made a good effort to connect to the story and overall game play. We found though that, understandably, this game was very heavy with screen time. Often, some of the fonts or key images were very small or the colours were indistinguishable so we were staring at our screens quite a bit! Rather than have one link, where the players have to be strolling up or down constantly to find something important in the story, we would recommend that Wacky Wheels find a way to embed more links in the story narrative so the player can have multiple tabs open at once with key clues and puzzle pieces rather than having to search throughout one sole document. We do ask that the game creators review the hint system. At times, we would click on a hint for one puzzle, and it would give us either the answer right away, or a hint to another puzzle that we weren’t even solving. This would then affect our overall score because for every hint taken, or puzzle revealed in advance, end game points were removed. The hint system required the team to be very specific with case sensitivity, so we would recommend that the hint system be less vague with what is required for the players to enter. For example, the hint system could tell the team more specifically what they need to type in (whether it is a colour, number, 10-word sentence, or have a drop down menu, etc…)
Cottage in the Woods made a good effort to create a story line with a focused narrative. There were some enjoyable aspects tied to real-life historical themes, but overall, we found that the story line was not as engaging as it could have been. The game was very heavy on text reading, and this took away from the immersive experience even though it was trying to convey a storyline. While playing, we found that rather than have so much text to read through, we would love to see the game creators provide links to online videos showing the storyline acted out, or links to music to set the mood and tone of the story. With more audio and visual components added to the story line, this would help to reduce the amount of text and help to improve the immersion experience.
There were a decent variety of puzzles in the game. There were enjoyable logic, visual, and spatial puzzles and some very unique puzzles not seen before! The puzzles were solvable, and all the solutions to the puzzles made sense to the team. While the puzzles were enjoyable, they weren’t thematically connected to the story and it felt like the story was happening outside of the puzzles. However, we did find that there were some tedious puzzles that seemed to just take up our time rather than drive the narrative further. We would love to see a ‘less is more’ approach with the puzzles. Instead of having many puzzles, it could be great to refine and improve a select few of the puzzles to tie them strongly to the narrative and storyline.
Overall, the team enjoyed playing this game. We would love to see the storyline edited and pared down so it is less text heavy and provides more opportunity for audio and visual links to be added to improve the storyline. We found at times the game seemed choppy, such as read the text, do the puzzle, now repeat the process. We’d love to see more cohesion between the puzzles and the story so the game unfolds more seamlessly. We understand what Wacky Wheels was trying to complete here, and for making an online story puzzle escape game, they did a good job! We found playing this was similar to reading a puzzle book, so we would love to see the addition of videos and sound links built in to make the story line stand out more to the players. We look forward to seeing what Wacky Wheels has next!