#650 – The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks [Spoiler-Free]

Box

Base price: $35.
1+ players.
Play time: 2 – 4 hours.
Buy directly!
Logged plays: 1, as is the case with most escape rooms. 

Full disclosure: A review copy of The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks was provided by Bluefish Games.

Back with more escape room games! This is a particularly good set of games to go through, since, I’ve been testing which games work online and trying to find good titles to play with my friends. Thankfully, online escape room games have been a good fix for that particular problem, since often we can take photos of the components and share them around so that my friends can work on them even without being in the same room. This particular one, The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks, also has a mild online component, which will hopefully improve our standing even more. Let’s dig in and see what’s going on with it.

Famed inventor Stephen P. Hincks has sent you a mysterious package, inviting you to participate in his new puzzley maze. Using the “Internet”, players will compete to reach the end by solving puzzles to gain passwords that will move the elevator to a different floor, like most elevators but a bit more obnoxious. Should you solve them all, you’ll earn his favor and a name for yourselves as puzzle aficionados, which is pretty much all anyone could possibly ask for. Do you have what it takes to beat this famous puzzlemaster at his own game?

Contents

Setup

Setup’s not too bad. You basically just need the box contents:

Stuff

This isn’t all of it.

It may help to have a pen or something to take notes with, unless you want to doodle in the margins of the box content. Either way, once you’re ready, navigate to the webpage and get started!

Gameplay

The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks plays pretty similarly to a lot of escape room-style games currently on the market. Essentially, the game begins at the lobby; you’ll use the site to go up to a new floor, and the floor numbers are essentially random (as elevator-owners tend to be kind of whimsical).

On each floor, you have a puzzle that your group is presented with. Solve the puzzle, and you’ll get a password that will help your group move to the next level on the elevator. The puzzles vary in scope and complexity, from tactile puzzles to logic puzzles to math puzzles to word puzzles to decoding puzzles and everything in between. Work with your friends to solve them so that you can generate that password.

As you progress through the game, you’ll eventually arrive at the final floor. Solve the puzzle there, and you’ll be able to reach the top floor and see Mr. Hincks, himself!

Player Count Differences

Not a ton, since I played this one online. I handled all the tactile components myself and took relevant pictures for them, so that was fun (so that my friends could see it). I think, personally, I’d probably cap this one at four. While the puzzles aren’t technically modular (since you have to do one before you can do the next one), they’re generally splittable within the puzzle itself, so that players can work independently to solve multiple components, which is always a good look for a puzzle game. This means if you’re playing solo, you can solve them all yourself and that’s fine, but if you’re not playing solo, then you can divide and conquer to arrive at the floor’s next password. I think more than four, though, and you’re going to run into too many cooks in the kitchen and it’ll be hard to effectively divide up the puzzles. That’s my take, at least. Anything four or fewer, though, probably fine! I just personally don’t like doing these games with only one player because I’d rather have my friends around to help me solve it, even if it’s just over video call.

Strategy

As with the other escape room games I’ve done, this is going to be a fairly light / broad section, given that I don’t want to spoil anything for y’all.

  • Make sure you have all the components for the puzzle you’re trying to solve. This baffled us for the first puzzle, and we couldn’t find something resembling a rulebook or an intro sheet, so we kind of clowned our way through it before realizing that we could just use the first hint on each floor to check what components we needed to solve the puzzle. That’s a super useful initial hint, and I love that they do that.
  • Also don’t forget to check the present for each floor; there’s usually something in there. You generally need the information in each floor’s present to solve the floor’s puzzle, so, don’t skip it. It is tempting to try and see if you can avoid it and just solve the puzzle, but the extra information it provides is usually pretty key, I’ve found.
  • Leverage all the resources available to you. Don’t pass up something just because you don’t think you need it; the game’s designed to be an all-in-one experience, so, make sure you’re not overlooking anything. I definitely avoided using something because I didn’t see its value and I ended up regretting it. Just tryna save y’all a bit of pain!
  • Again, no penalty for hints in this game, so, might as well use them if you need them. It’s a nice hint system since you can choose any of the many hints per puzzle; the first hint is always the components you need for the puzzle, as I mentioned above, so honestly I usually look at that when I hit a new floor just to make sure I’m getting off to a good start. If you think you’re decently far ahead, you might be able to skip a few hints; you don’t have to look at them all, if you don’t want to, but they’re hidden enough that you won’t accidentally see a hint if you’d prefer not to, as well. To that end, yeah, I kind of just used hints as I felt like they were necessary, which is what I always recommend.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

More Stuff

Pros

  • Whimsical theme! Much more family-friendly than, say, A Death in the Red Light or The Catacombs of Horror. As you might expect. There’s definitely some novel themes for puzzles (there’s a whole puzzle about stock tickers!), but I think the entire thing is a nice little jaunt for the puzzle-inclined group. Besides, who doesn’t want to solve some weird man’s upbeat and colorful puzzles? The game does a good job presenting him as one of those dudes who’s got a very weird energy and probably says “cartograph” instead of “map”, which, at some deep level, I respect. Whimsy is always good in these kinds of things.
  • I really like the tactile components of the game. I think, in general, tactile components do a lot to lift up an escape room game. There’s something genuinely satisfying about manipulating pieces and putting them to use to solve the puzzles. There was a particularly exciting one that I was very impressed by; I love when these games do novel stuff.
  • The puzzles are pretty varied as well. Overall, I felt like the game tried to be an amalgamation of a bunch of different styles of puzzles (as you’d expect from most escape room games; it would be weird if they were all the same type), and I think it succeeds on that front. I’m always a big fan of an escape room game if I learned something new, and that happened! It’s clever. I really like the idea that there are a lot of escape room boxes floating around encouraging
  • Another puzzle game with a good hint system! Don’t get me wrong, the puzzles all requiring tricky word answers is reminiscent of the mythical sphinx (but in a funny way), but, thankfully, the hint system is robust enough to match it. I really appreciate
  • A fair number of solid word puzzles! The last one I played was much more logic puzzles; I enjoyed getting to come back and play with more word puzzles. I don’t always get a lot of word puzzles in escape room games, so this was like little holiday from the math…ier logic games.
  • We spent a pretty long time playing and the game never felt like it overstayed its welcome. I was definitely getting a smidge hangry by the end, but, that’s mostly on me for trying to play through two escape room games in one day with no breaks. Who could have predicted that? This is on the longer side, though — I think we were playing for at least two hours, possibly three.
  • I like that there’s always part of a puzzle hidden behind the website. It sort of allows for the same thing as the EXIT Games, in that you can’t necessarily solve the puzzle without having certain components available to you. It gives the site a reason to exist and a strong gameplay tie-in.
  • Very replayable. I think I ended up not really needing to use the refill kit at all; the puzzle is very ready to be played by someone else. I might let my housemates try it? One component is a little touch and go, but, you know, can’t tell you which! No spoilers.

Mehs

  • Yeah, this one doesn’t play well remote if you only have one copy. Yeah, I ended up being kind of like Atlas, carrying most of the tactile weight on my back since, you know, doesn’t translate well over video. I think we could have split the work more if we had multiple copies between us, but, to my friends’ credit, they solved a few puzzles that stumped me.
  • It would have been cool if there were more things to do with the website. This is my general gripe with games that have web components to them; give me more that involves the computational side.
  • I also would have liked to see a bit more from the box, just because, you know, photography. The intent is clearly to make a box that can be easily shipped, and that’s good and all, but I do like more box art and such when I’m trying to do photography. Alas. I still need to figure out what I’m going to do for the actual featured photo for this one. Probably the logo?

Cons

  • We got a bit stuck at the beginning because we weren’t sure what the starting puzzle was. That’s a scaffolding issue, but it’s fixed pretty quickly by the very-good hint system. I just would have liked if it had been easier to find.
  • A couple of the puzzles rely on slightly missable things. One in particular is an audio clue with no transcript, which is tough for a lot of different players. It would have been nice to have had some written version of the clue so that we didn’t need to repeat it a bunch of times.

Overall: 8 / 10

Overall, I thought The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks was a great time! I definitely will admit that I would have enjoyed it more if I were in person with my friends, but, honestly, most of these games I’ve been playing would be more fun for me if I were able to see my friends. “I miss my friends” is a true, relatable, but not explicitly super relevant statement, alas. Barring that, though, I think this particular escape room game has a lot of good things going for it. It’s got a great hint system, which I think is really going to be critical for a lot of escape room games moving forward. If you’ve got a really robust hint system, the game can be as hard as you want it to be (The Emerald Flame, for instance, has amazing hints, but is really tough). And that’s awesome! Plus, this one has the nice benefit of being extremely family-friendly, which is always good for a quick puzzley game. I don’t know any kids, so, I can’t really say if they’d really gel with the theme or the puzzles, but that’s why other content creators with different perspectives to mine are valuable. It’s a great tactile puzzler, though, even if that makes it harder to play remotely, but I do wish the box they sent it in contained a more upbeat and colorful box so I could photograph it. Currently, it doesn’t look like much beyond a shipping box, which is not that exciting to me. Either way, though, I think it’s a great (and surprisingly substantial; took us over two hours) escape room title, so if you’re looking for a great way to puzzle the day away, I’d recommend checking out The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks! I had a lot of fun.


If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

One thought on “#650 – The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks [Spoiler-Free]

  1. Appreciate the spoiler-free review and the reminder that I need to get this to the table. The lack of a timer is probably an easier sell for this one and I’ve heard nothing but good things so far about it. I just haven’t gotten it out to play.

    Liked by 1 person

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