Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to calm down, but if you’re looking for one with a bit more challenge, I strongly recommend the new Escape Room: The Game ‘Puzzle Adventures’ set, The Secret of the Scientist. It’s the first in a new franchise combining the calm mindfulness of jigsaws with escape room-style logic puzzles — and it’s great.
Here’s how it all works.
You start off the game with a mysterious puzzle box (pictured above) that can only be unlocked by putting together jigsaw pieces and solving the mysteries found in the rooms you create. The first puzzle you uncover is about organising paintings and identifying which person is on each artwork via clues in a mysterious book. When you find the right order, each painting’s number clue helps to unlock the code for the next puzzle box compartment. Inside, you’ll find everything you need to create the next room.
As you solve puzzles, you uncover more jigsaw pieces and travel further into the mysterious house explored in the game.
It’s a great system and creates a puzzle-jigsaw that’s incredibly well-paced. The game does have a timed mode, but frankly, the ‘zen mode’ is much better. Here, you can kick back, take your time, build out your jigsaw puzzle and then take breaks to work through the challenges presented in each room.
The above room, for example, requires you to complete four distinct puzzles, with each of them unlocking part of the code you need to advance to the final room. There are clues if you get stuck, but for the most part you’re reliant on your observation skills, minor clues and any brain cells you can muster along the way. You’ll need to examine every crack and crevice in your surroundings to find the code you need to advance.
Some puzzles are very logical, while others you’ll need to think about, sketch out or test before you commit.
The good news for everyone who struggles with ‘escape room’ type challenges is puzzles in the game are genuinely clever, and rely on observation and knowledge over trickery. If you think long enough about each puzzle, you should be able to come up with a suitable solution. I say this as someone who frequently had to cheat on the Unlock! games (which feature similar puzzle mechanics).
Each puzzle compartment gives you just enough clues that you won’t ever feel stupid or lost while playing the game. It does mean the game isn’t particularly difficult, but the gameplay is enjoyable enough so it doesn’t matter.
If you’ve played an Escape Room game before and you’re worried about having to ruin parts along the way, the even better news is you don’t have to ‘destroy’ any pieces to complete this puzzle. There is one particular challenge where you can write on a card to solve it, but you can either skip this by working out the solution on a seperate piece of paper or you can just reprint it via the Escape Room website.
Once you’re done with the puzzle, you can simply put it away to be completed at a later time or you can pass it on to a friend with all the pieces intact. Everyone should be able to jump in and enjoy this one, so it makes for a great little gift.
By the end of my Puzzle Adventures journey, I’d completed all but one puzzle without assistance. While I did spend two afternoons completing it, the game’s zen mode meant this was a legitimate, guilt-free way to play the game. It gave me space to think about what I was doing, and to enjoy the process of putting together each room’s jigsaw layout.
It makes for a very enjoyable experience.
The Secret of the Scientist has just the right amount of challenge for me — even if it felt a bit too easy at times. The mix between jigsaw and puzzle challenges is great, and it means the game unfolds at a great, engaging pace. Should the franchise continue, I’d love to see more entries in the Puzzle Adventures series.
Whether you just like jigsaws and you’re looking for one with a twist or you want a simple escape room-style adventure to cut your teeth on, The Secret of the Scientist is fantastic. The secret of the game’s creepy laboratory awaits you.