Dust off your printer and play the Oldervik series!
After a lengthy sea voyage, during which you skillfully aided the various crew of the SS Oceanic Star, you finally reach Kantawe. By communicating with other vessels en route you were able to narrow down Felipe’s last known location to an archaeological site that surely hides the Venus Emerald.
The fourth chapter in the Oldervik online series, Digging in Disguise continues the story that has developed since chapter one (A Jewel in Jeopardy), through chapter two (Operative Onboard) and chapter three (On Course for Kantawe). Technically I think you could play these games in any order but if you really want to get engrossed in the story then playing them in order makes the most sense (plus you may get some spoilers if you play out of order). From what I understand, there are due to be five chapters to the Oldervik Online series, and we are very much looking forward to that final instalment.
Digging in Disguise, like the other Oldervik games, is a print and play game but don’t let that put you off, these games have so much more going for them than you may think. I know Print and Play aren’t the most popular game style right now as everyone wants online games, but give this one a try and you will enter a world of great puzzles, clever mechanisms, and an engrossing story.
Unlike the other three Oldervik games, we actually decided to play this one as a team of two, in the same location. The other games we played remotely with other teams mates, and it still worked fine, but this time we felt like a change. It wasn’t just us who felt like a change, Co-Decode changed up the interface with this game and massively improved it from the other games, but more on that later.
Digging in Disguise arrives as a ten-page PDF document, but really you can get away with only printing eight of the pages, and they are all greyscale so won’t cost you a fortune in ink. We got everything prepared, read the instructions, and then were once again ready to enter the world of Oldervik.
We’ve always been impressed with the system that Co-Decode have created, utilising QR codes in a very clever way to drive the game forward, and Digging in Disguise continues with the clever system but takes it to the next level. On previous games we had to scan QR codes and play the digital aspects of the game on our phones, now they have a ‘Companion App’ system in place that means you can scan the code and then enter a code on your computer and play through that.
This improved system also opens up a new inventory system that makes it easier to see what you have unlocked, who you have met, and where you need to go next. If we had one criticism of Chapter 3 it was that it became quite tricky to keep on top of everything and know where to go (while getting lost in a sea of tabs), in this chapter, there were no such issues.
While the old QR scanning method was to use the native camera/app on your smartphone, now all the scanning is done through a browser, which again keeps the experience slick and with minimal distractions (it’s hard to remove/control adverts on apps etc). Once you scan a QR code you are given a numerical code that you can then enter in the interface on your computer (or stay working from your phone). The added bonus of this is that you can share the code with your team and they can enter it on their end too.
Ignoring the mechanics of the game for a moment, everything fitted well together, including the story and the puzzles. Co-Decode have produced two of the most highly rated physical escape rooms in the UK, with an attention to detail that is second-to-none, so it’s no surprise that this meticulousness has appeared in their online games. Oh, and one more thing, the Oldervik games are all available in both English and German – sehr gut!
This game contained a lot of puzzles, but when the gameplay is estimated at 3-4 hours that is what you would expect. All the puzzles fitted perfectly with the theme and helped to push the story forward. You’ll need to think outside the box with some of them and work out how items you find can be combined to become useful. Other than that you’ll encounter; wordplay, spatial awareness, observation, searching, logic and pattern recognition – basically pretty much everything.
I wouldn’t say the puzzles were easier than the previous chapters of Oldervik, but thanks to the Companion App they were easier and more satisfying to work on. Out of all the puzzles, I think we perhaps got stuck on one for quite a while, and it became rather infuriating. We spoke with the creators after we played and they have built a clever system that, on this particular puzzle, makes it easier the longer you take on it – so learn from our mistake, don’t hit refresh!
There isn’t too much to say about the clue system for this game, because it works, and it works well. There is nothing fancy about it but Co-Decode have gone for a simple system that is available on all puzzles and gives you a gradual help system. The first Hint (once clicked on) will expand so you see only that hint, if you need more, you can click on the others, but there is no way you should be able to accidentally see a hint.
If the hints don’t get you back on track then in the same section you will have access to the answer, clearly labelled ‘Answer – *Spoiler Alert*’. So even if you get really stuck you’ll still be able to finish the game.
The games by Co-Decode seem to be under-the-radar due to them being Print and Play, but really they are gems waiting to be discovered. Digging in Disguise, thanks to the improved interface is our favourite Oldervik game so far. It’s hard to beat the Oldervik series for value for money.
- Printer (or choose print + post before buying)
- Device capable of scanning QR codes
- Internet Connection (we used mobiles)
- Glue / Sticky tape
Value for Money
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 3hr 15 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.