The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks
Designer: Ace Ellett, Anna Ellett
Publisher: Bluefish Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Playing Time: 120-140 min
Main mechanic / Theme: Deduction, Puzzle, Cooperative / Solve the Puzzles
From the Publisher:
An adventure awaits those who are up to the challenge. The renowned — and somewhat eccentric — puzzle-maker Stephen P. Hincks has finally opened the doors to an invention he calls "The Curious Elevator." Like an ordinary elevator, this one travels up and down; however, Mr. Hincks couldn't resist including a bit of mischief in his contraption. The Curious Elevator will take you to whichever floor it deems appropriate, and there you will remain until you solve its puzzle. Fortunately, Mr. Hincks is a sporting fellow, and he's left a series of clues behind that will help you on your journey.
Players begin the adventure of The Curious Elevator of Mr. Hincks with a package of physical materials engineered by Hincks. At each floor, the players utilize their "cryptic parcel" to discover the secrets of that floor. Mr. Hincks has also left a gift on each floor that will be the key to unlocking the puzzle. Players use a simple online interface to view each gift and then to input their answer. A correct answer will take the players to another floor, while an incorrect answer won't budge the elevator.
Mr. Hincks is waiting on the top floor, ready to inscribe your name on his leaderboard. Will you be able to steer the Curious Elevator through enigmas, puzzles, and conundrums to claim your rightful title of Master Puzzler?
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
The game is played in concert with the website and consists of the players going from floor to floor of the building by being shown an elevator door and a very limited clue. The website does contain clues to the puzzles if you get stuck and will lead you to the answer one step at a time, but of course we tried to only use those very sparingly. The first clue of every floor is a list of the materials from the box that you will need to solve the particular puzzle. It's an ecclectic mix of items containing business cards, horoscopes, tractor feed printer printouts and many other items. Using these items and the limited clues given on the site, it's your job to solve the puzzle and gain a code word that you enter to move to the next level.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout (optional)
Everything included in this game fits very well with the theme of this game. All of the game pieces look and feel like actual "artifacts" that could have easily come from a real building and they interact very well with one another (the only excepton are the keys, which are shaped like real keys but are flat plasticard. Not a problem what-so-ever.) The graphics on the website are not distracting and some of the items have colorful and/or playful illustrations. It is really an intersting mix of media that works very well with the theme of the game.
In this instance, I really enjoyed the interaction with the website and the physical, tactile feel of the components. The site works well and if you quit the game before completing all of the puzzles (I played through solo as well as with some friends) as long as you write down the password for each floor, it's super easy to zip through to where you left off. As I mentioned, the components are all top notch and manipulating them by hand to discover what they were hiding was extremely satisfying.
Overall, this was a really unique and interesting game similar in scope to an Escape Room game. I think that anyone who enjoys solving brain teaser and deep thinking puzzles will really enjoy this game. For me, I enjoyed it a lot when playing with others who could contribute their own takes on things. When playing on my own, I had to rely on the hints much more than I would have thought (I guess I'm not as smart as I thought!) Either way though, it was fun and I found the puzzles and the manipulation of the game pieces to be fascinating.
Stefan Yates is a professional in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Kansas State University. Finding ways to work gaming into work, he serves on the university’s Alternate Reality Game Committee and is a co-Faculty Advisor for the Board Game Club. He is also a PhD student whose field of research is Gamification in Student Programming. He enjoys playing (and mostly losing) almost any type of game and likes to work in multiple game sessions per week whenever possible. An avid solo gamer with an additional interest in tabletop miniatures games, the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic were not particularly concerning as there was always painting to do and terrain to build. Stefan is also a book and movie collector and a huge football fan (go CHIEFS!)