*Unboxing The Mind Of A Cryptic Killer – Eleven Puzzles – Home Play Game*

Present (ish), January 2021, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant, Lioness

Another monster of a title! Come on, guys, help me out here! Referred to henceforth as UTMOACK, this is the only game (online or physical) from Eleven Puzzles, a collective of board and video game-loving friends, but it’s a good ‘un. A crime story with a cartoon noir feel, an interesting split dynamic and some genuinely tense jeopardy, we found it fresh and unique.

The crux of the game is that teams are split into the camps of two detectives working the case of a serial killer; Polish grizzled veteran “Old Dog” and brilliant Scottish investigator Ally – former partners now dealing with mirrored crime scenes in their respective cities. Members of the team pick their ‘tec and from then on only see the evidence from that location, from either Old Dog or Ally’s point of view. This makes for a “Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes” experience, where communication is key.

UTMOACK is very much a ‘test your worth’ game, where the killer has laid out traps and brainteasers to taunt the police, so the game makers can get away with very puzzley puzzles, rather than needing to find real life explanations for all the locks and riddles. It also makes for an entertaining narrative; the atmospheric graphics, animations and voice clips are fun and definitely add to the mood of the game. We may have screamed at one point!

Puzzles are a good mix, something for everyone here, with the overarching theme of teamwork (and possibly pirates, for some reason that I can’t quite recall). Took us a little while to understand that each player can only see one half of each puzzle, despite this being fairly well explained in the website blurb! Obviously, this isn’t a suitable game for solo players, and I would suggest that an even number works best. As a three, we felt a bit lopsided, and could certainly have completed more quickly in pairs, as the open style means several problems can be worked on simultaneously. Our finishing time of one hour 24 minutes felt good value for money though.

The interface was easy enough to use, and the split style of the game elevated it from being just another point-and-click computer adventure. UTMOACK is closer to a puzzle box (breaking in) game than it is to an Escape Room, but all-in-all a satisfying brain workout. News of any further cases for Old Dog and Ally would definitely be worth investigating.

  • Storyline: Strong backstory for the narrative, complete with mini-biographies of the characters on the website. Maybe not all necessary, but a nice touch.
  • Theming and Virtual Set: Fun, pop-art, cartoony style of detective-noir and nice voice-acting too.
  • Googling: Not needed.
  • Puzzles: Not super-challenging, but plenty to do and wide-ranging. Just keep talking!
  • Physicality: None.  
  • Scare factor: We did have a moment, but this is not a horror game.
  • Age suitability: Maybe a little dark for young ones? Teens who like crime stuff would enjoy it.
  • Timed?: Yes, it gives you the time taken. They suggest one to two hours, and the game can be stopped and resumed.
  • Requires: PC/laptops/tablet, plus good additional comms. Pen and paper helped, printer not needed.

Eleven Puzzles website