The Enigma Emporium - "Predator or Prey (Series 1)", "Cycle of Learning (Series 2)", & "Carte Rouge"
Updated: Feb 22
Photos provided by The Enigma Emporium
Company: The Enigma Emporium
Country: USA 🇺🇸
Type of Game: Puzzles By Mail 📬
Date Played: 2/17/2021
Size of Team: Unlimited
Time: Unlimited (Suggested 10+ hours)
Game: Predator or Prey (Series 1)
Difficulty (based on 2 players): 8/10
Price: $50 or purchase individual episodes for $15 each
Your friend seems to be in trouble. All you have are these mysterious postcards that's been send to you with clues on it. It won't be an easy task to find out what they've been up to but they are desperately in need of your help. After helping them in the trilogy series, you might want to also check out the spinoff copycat case? The FBI needs your help to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.
If you purchase the entire series, you'll receive 4 envelopes. Each envelope contains 5 post cards. "Wish you were here", "Blowback" and "Parabola" should be played in order as it's a trilogy. You are able to follow a narrative in this set. "Copycat Files" can be played separately as it's a spinoff from the previous storyline. If you backed them on Kickstarter, you'll also receive a bonus card in the "Wish you were here" envelope. We didn't receive the "Parabola" game in our reviewers copy so our review will be excluding this game. Each postcard has a glossy finish in the front and a matte finish in the back. These postcards can be replayed or gifted if you're careful to not write on the cards.
🆃🅷🅴 🅶🅰🅼🅴 🅿🅻🅰🆈
Each envelope contains 5 postcards. Each postcard will have a theme. It's best to discover what that is first. It'll make your lives much easier. Do not be shy about using the internet. It was a bit hard to discover that initially since we were unfamiliar with the format of the game play and there's no directions that came with the game. Once you've solved the first card, we suggest to check the answer on their "clue" site to make sure they are correct. This way you'll know what you'll need to look for on the rest of the postcards. The cards can be played in any order. There'll be a website that you'll need to enter the answers in at the end but you won't be able to do so until you've solved all the cards. There's a nudging hint system on their website. We found that the nudges are not very clear and many times we had to use back solve from the solution instead. Even with that we still have puzzles we're unable to solve till this day. If you've gotten their bonus card in the "Wish you were here" pack, there's no hint system for that on the website. You'll need to email the creators if you need assistance.
Most of the puzzle type used in this game are various ciphers. There are occasional email and video encounters with the characters in the game. A lot of the other times are spend on Googling information that were presented on the postcards as it'll give you a more clear direction on what the numbers or letters are referring to. If you are familiar with a particular theme (literature or Math theory), it would probably make the association for that particular puzzle a bit easier. Or else the internet and hint system would be your best bet. Although each card can be solved on its own and you can divide and conquer, we suggest you playing this as a team. As some ciphers are quite long, it might be smart to take them in parts and decode them together. Googling will also take some time so it's best to divide information among the team to do the searches.
The copycat files is our favorite one out of this series. There's a business card that was included in the game pack that clearly informed the players on what they would have to look for.
Game: Cycle of Learning (Series 2)
Difficulty (based on 2 players): 8.5/10
Price: $50 or purchase individual episodes for $15 each
you're looking to apply for a position at the prestigious Infiniti Institutes but first you will have to pass their entrance exam. Once you become a member, it's time to help the institute with some peculiar cases. Are you ready to track down artifacts around the world, discover mythical creatures, reveal the secrets of the cosmos and identify unknown cryptids?
If you purchase the entire series, you'll receive 4 envelopes ("Trial by Ciphers", "Migratory Patterns", "Cryptic Cryptids", and "Veritas") . Each envelope contains 5 post cards. You might notice some Easter egg references to their first game series. Each postcard has a glossy finish in the front and a matte finish in the back. This game can be replayed or gifted if you're careful to not write on the cards.
🆃🅷🅴 🅶🅰🅼🅴 🅿🅻🅰🆈
Since we've played series 1, series 2 did become a bit easier for us in terms of knowing what we are looking for. The main theme of the postcards are always titled on the envelope and each envelope will be subdivisions of that theme. It's important to identify the theme as it'll help you on what information you'll need to search for. There'll be a lot of Googling for this game. The hint system did improve from the previous series but we're still unsure of some answers as the last passwords were not revealed. It's hard to know if we had finished the game or not as we didn't get a conclusive ending. We did enjoy the interactive parts of the game on the website portal which is a new addition to series 2.
"Cycle of Learning" felt like a perfect title for series 2. We definitely learned a lot about how to play Enigma Emporium's games. The puzzle design was pretty much the same as in series 1. You'll encounter a lot different types of long deciphers and internet searching. The different themes that each postcard had was intriguing as we opened each envelope. There's always something new to be discover. The ciphers were difficult in the sense that there were many mixed factors that were added to the regular cipher rules and in almost every postcard, you'll need to decipher long sentences or paragraphs. Definitely prepare a magnifying glass for this game as there were many areas with very small fonts or visual impairments caused by colors on the postcards.
Game: Carte Rouge
Difficulty (based on 2 players): 9.5/10
A full deck of cards containing a mystery to be unraveled...
We received this beautifully designed full deck of cards (52 plus the 2 jokers) in a small cardboard box in the mail. One you open the deck, you'll also receive an intro card with the backstory. The cards have a glossy finish. The colors provided a feel of royalty especially with the gold emboss.
🆃🅷🅴 🅶🅰🅼🅴 🅿🅻🅰🆈
This game needs you to be good at observation. Having good eye sight will also help a lot. Definitely take breaks in between this game as you'll get blurred vision from playing it for too long. Although there are 54 cards, most of the puzzles will only be on 14 of them. Once again there's really no clear starting point in this game so it was a struggle for us right from the beginning. Don't be shy about using the hint system on their website. It's essential to determine that first step as many will follow the same pattern after.
There's a lot of code deciphers in this game as well. If you don't use hints you'll find yourself staring at these for long hours. It was quite satisfying when we solved a few without using the hint system and those gave us that "wow" moment. We are still not fans of having to decipher long ciphers that uses the same rules as it does become tedious and repetitive. The narrative will slowly reveal as you solve the puzzles but it was hard to connect them together without a sense of direction on what's been solved and what haven't been solved. It's imperative to take good notes with this game.
Enigma Emporium definitely has a type of game design that you'll need to get used to when playing their games. We struggled a lot at the beginning as there were many items to be discovered on a single postcard or a playing card. We never know if we're finished with something as there's no place to really submit answers to check if they are correct or not other than checking the clue system. Most of them did give a solution but there are some that still remains a mystery. As a player I would like to have a more direct type of hint system and solutions to all the puzzles. It's definitely frustrating to spend 2+ hours on a game and can't even get to an ending.
For the value, we definitely feel like we've got a lot out of one small postcard or a single playing card. As for the puzzles, you definitely need to be a patient decoder. There were many long ciphers that you'll need to get through. For us, we would've probably preferred shorter answers instead of translating an entire narrative paragraph.
I do have to say, this game taught us a lot of information that as experienced puzzlers we haven't even encountered before. There were also a lot of historical people, theories, myths, languages and cipher types that we've learned along the way (mostly through Google). If you are a patient player, love deciphering various types of codes and want to retain knowledge that you might need while attending a trivia game show one day, then you've landed on a jackpot!
Check out our interview with the creators to understand more on the development side of these game:
(If you do decide to try this game, give us a shoutout or tag us on social media so we know you heard it from "ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)
Disclosure: We thank The Enigma Emporium for providing us with a sample of their game. Although a complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.
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