It’s Print and Play, but not as you know it
Almost as soon as the train departs, you drift off and succumb to nervous dreams. Felipe is only metres ahead in the jungle, clutching the Venus Emerald in one hand as he jeers and taunts. You run faster and faster, but can never quite catch up. You summon all your strength and throw yourself at the smuggler in one final attempt to capture him…
*bang* *bang* *bang*
You are suddenly pulled back to the land of the living by loud knocking at the door of your compartment. Startled, you turn on the light and squint at your watch as the darkness disappears all too quickly. It’s 1am! What could someone want at this hour? Moments later you open the door to see a man in a smart cap and waistcoat. “Sir, there has been an… incident,” he says in a serious voice, “Come find me at the front of the passenger car once you are dressed and I will tell you more”. Whatever has happened, it can’t be good!
Prior to this game, we’d played three games by CoDecode; Professor Dunstan, Sub Terra, and Oldervik Part 1, and we enjoyed every one of them, so hopes were high that Oldervik Part 2 would live up to the quality of those other games.
Oldervik Part 2 – Operative Onboard is, as you may expect, set on a train and your end goal is to identify the culprit who stole Oldervik’s journal. As this is a print and play we made sure to get everything printed and ready to go before we got started so we could focus on solving the puzzles. So with everything printed, scissors and glue at the ready, and supplemental pages hidden away, we began.
We played this game as a team of four in two locations, and it worked well. We used Zoom so we could communicate and we both had copies of the printing in front of us. This is how we played the first game and it made for a good collaborative experience. We were told that this was a long game and could take around three hours, so we prepared accordingly. In the end, it took us 1hr 45min to get through it all, but be ready for this to be a lengthy game!
Oldervik Part 1 was good but it wasn’t without its flaws so it was good to see that the creators had taken feedback on board and tweaked some things to make the game run smoother. In Part 1 we found the QR codes a bit fiddly and getting them lined up correctly was tricky, in this game the QR codes were larger and lined up much better.
There are so many online escape games available now that it’s often easy to see gameplay styles get copied/imitated, but the games by CoDecode are unique in the way you play them, and it’s rather clever.
There are only seven pages of printing required to play this game and CoDecode have set it up to be printed in black and white so you won’t waste a fortune on ink – nice touch. You may spend a little bit of time cutting while you’re playing but it’s pretty minimal and some of it you can sort out before you start.
This game isn’t just paper-based though, you’ll need a device capable of scanning a QR code as that will take you into the Oldervik online world; a world where you interact with puzzles, meet characters, and manipulate devices to help you solve puzzles.
As we have come to expect from CoDecode, we found a good variety of puzzle styles in Operative Onboard. Obviously the overriding theme of the game is to identify a culprit of the crime, so there is a lot of logic and reasoning involved. Other than that, you will need to do some decoding, searching (sometimes quite detailed searching) and paper-manipulation.
None of the puzzles felt shoe-horned in just for the sake of adding another puzzle, and they all worked to progress the story. When CoDecode creates experiences they make sure the story is the heart of everything and then they build the experience around this.
One puzzle we found a bit fiddly and we spent a very long time on it; although I say puzzle, it was more a system for interacting with a number of puzzles in one go. It would have been useful to make it larger and see more at once, but I think they probably decided to make it the size it was just to make it a more challenging search experience.
I could probably just copy and paste what I wrote for Part 1 – A Jewel in Jeopardy as it was basically identical, and why not? The clue system works well so why spend time reinventing something that already does what it needs to do, and does it well. Each puzzle has a gradual clue system so you can get up to three gradual nudges in the right direction and if you still aren’t getting it you can see the solution. For us, this seems to be one of the best ways to do a clue system as it means you can progress through the game even if you get stuck.
This game improved on the first and those subtle changes made for a smoother experience. If you’re looking for a print and play that is slightly different from the rest, then this is it. There’s a do-or-die ending, so make sure you take some time to read through all the evidence as you don’t want to implicate the wrong person!
When you get to the end of the game (allow a good amount of time for that) you can see a detailed explanation of events or a quick summary. This was a nice touch as we apparently missed a lot of information yet evidently got lucky with our accusation.
As an added bonus, this game is also available in German, and a portion of the purchase price goes to charity.
- 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: 4 players
Time Taken: 1hr 45minutes